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Athletics magic number: 9, games to watch Saturday Sep. 20

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A look back at Friday's AL Wild Card scoreboard, and a look ahead to Saturday's games

Ezra Shaw

The magic number for the Athletics is down to nine, represented by Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. The A's made progress across the board with their victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, and moved ahead of the Kansas City Royals to move up to the first Wild Card position by half a game. The Mariners remain close, trailing Oakland by just one game. The Cleveland Indians are running out of chances to lose, coughing up their lead over the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning and losing in the 10th.

Here are the Wild Card standings at the end of September 19:

W L GB 9/19
OAK
Magic Number
Head-to-head
W-L
Games remaining
WC1 OAK 84 69 +0.5 Win 2 vs. PHI, 3 vs. LAA, 4 at TEX
WC2 KC 83 69 -- Loss 10 2-5 2 vs. DET, 3+1 at CLE, 4 at CWS
SEA 83 70 0.5 Win 9 9-10 2 at HOU, 4 at TOR, 3 vs LAA
CLE 79 74 4.5 Loss 5 4-2 2 at MIN, 3+1 vs KC, 3 vs TB
NYY 79 74 4.5 Win 5 4-2 2 vs TOR, 4 vs BAL, 3 at BOS
TOR 77 76 6.5 Loss 3 4-3 2 at NYY, 4 vs SEA, 3 vs BAL
TB 74 80 10.0 Loss Elim. 4-2 2 vs CWS, 3 at BOS, 3 at CLE
Division Leaders
West LAA 95 59 Champ Loss 8-8
East BAL 92 61 Champ Loss 4-2
Central DET 85 68 +1.5 Win 11 2-5 2 at KC, 3 vs CWS, 4 vs MIN

The "+1" between Kansas City and Cleveland denotes a suspended game to be resumed on September 22 with Kansas City batting in the bottom of the 10th inning trailing Cleveland 4-2.

And by the way, Tampa Bay was officially eliminated from postseason play on Friday.

Friday's recaps

Assuming Kansas City does not comeback in that suspended game, the Indians essentially have one last chance to insert themselves into the Wild Card race, with a three-game series against Kansas City coming up while the Mariners continue their brutal trip around North America. The Indians did not do themselves any favors, however, losing their game to the Minnesota Twins despite leading 4-3 in the ninth inning.

The Yankees are putting the Toronto Blue Jays out of their misery now. The Jays have lost six in a row while the Yankees victory pulls them even with the Cleveland Indians. The Yankees probably need the Indians to pummel Kansas City and win against the Baltimore Orioles to have even a prayer of climbing to the top.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3

From Caitlin Rogers of Pinstripe Alley:

In what could be Hiroki Kuroda's last start at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees did the unthinkable and actually provided him with some run support. Although they did not score a run after the fourth inning, they did enough damage early on to hold onto the win.

From Scott C. of Bluebird Banter:

A back and forth contest in the Bronx ended with the a Yankees victory as the Blue Jays were unable to recover from a rough first few innings. Mark Buehrle didn't pitch like his usual self, although he battled for six innings keeping Toronto in the game as long as he could. The team has now lost six games in a row sinking their record to an all-too-familiar mediocre mark of 77-76.

Mariners 10, Astros 5

From Matt Ellis of Lookout Landing:

But tonight the Astros thankfully opened their doors like the gracious hosts they are, offering their bodies and home plate as collateral in whatever this little dance is that is happening in the American League standings. The Mariners are probably going to owe them the same favor in five or six years. But for now, it's on their tab, and last call is just around the corner.

Tigers 10, Royals 1

From Al Beaton of Bless You Boys:

If it's possible to make a statement to start the biggest series of the season, the first-place Detroit Tigers made the biggest statement possible against the second-place Kansas City Royals. Detroit waltzed to a 10-1 victory, taking first blood in their three-game series in Kansas City. The Tigers came out swinging, landing several haymakers in the early innings, going on to stagger the Royals, who finally threw in the towel by emptying their bench in the sixth.

From ryjo911 of Royals Review:

It wasn't close. It wasn't pretty. The Detroit Tigers, as they have all season, did whatever they pleased with the Royals, rolling Kansas City 10-1 to pad their AL Central lead to 1.5 games. The Tigers outhit the Royals 19-7, prompting the fans to boo their team several different occasions throughout the evening. The Tigers beat down Kansas City with walks, home runs, and extra-base hits - things that Royals executives have publicly admitted that their own team "isn't good" at, and made no effort to fix them. That's the problem here, folks. This organization doesn't understand that what their team doesn't do is what the teams that actually win and go to the playoffs do.

Twins 5, Indians 4 (10)

From Ryan of Let's Go Tribe:

Not only were the Indians sleep-deprived, but the pitchers' arms were tired as well. To take the final game in Houston the Indians needed to play 13 innings, and all the regular relievers were used in that game. So not only did the Indians need a win, they really needed a win by a sizable margin. Neither happened, though for the longest time, it looked like they'd skate by yet again with a tense one-run victory.

Saturday's games to watch

Baseball is at its best when there is a full day of games on the card. At 10 in the morning, the Tigers and Royals bring two aces to the mound in the second game of the three-game showdown for the AL Central lead. Joining the Phillies and A's at one o'clock are the Yankees hanging on to their last gasp at one more Derek Jeter postseason run, against the Toronto Blue Jays. Finally, at four o'clock, the Mariners and Astros face off as well as the Indians and Twins.

Time (PT) Starting Pitcher Notes
10:05 AM Tigers Max Scherzer (16-5, 3.26) M# vs. DET = 11
Royals James Shields (14-7, 3.15) M# vs KC = 10
1:05 PM Phillies Jerome Williams (5-7, 5.03)
Athletics Drew Pomeranz (5-4, 2.53)
1:05 PM Blue Jays Marcus Stroman (10-6, 3.80) M# vs TOR = 3
Yankees Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.55) M# vs NYY = 5
4:10 PM Mariners Chris Young (12-8, 3.33) M# vs SEA = 9
Astros Dallas Keuchel (11-9, 3.00)
4:10 PM Indians T.J. House (3-3, 3.42) M# vs CLE = 5
Twins Trevor May (3-4, 7.71)