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Athletics magic number: 4, games to watch Tuesday Sep. 23

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A look back at Monday's scoreboard, and a look ahead to Tuesday's games around the American League Wild Card race.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletics made yet another two-game jump toward a place in the American League Wild Card game by defeating the Los Angeles Angels after the Toronto Blue Jays walloped the Seattle Mariners.Just as a reminder, the magic number is the number of A's wins and opponent's losses needed to clinch a better record than that opponent. Because Seattle is the first one missing the postseason, the magic number against Seattle represents the number to reach the postseason.

Here is your American League Wild Card scoreboard as of the end of play on September 22:

W L GB 9/22
OAK
Magic Number
Head-to-head
W-L
Games remaining
WC1 OAK 86 70 +1.0 Win 2 vs. LAA, 4 at TEX
WC2 KC 85 71 -- L, W 6 2-5 2 at CLE, 4 at CWS
SEA 83 73 2.0 Loss 4 9-10 3 at TOR, 3 vs LAA
CLE 82 75 3.5 W, L 2 4-2 2 vs KC, 3 vs TB
NYY 81 75 4.0 Win 2 4-2 3 vs BAL, 3 at BOS
TOR 79 77 6.0 Win Elim. 4-3 3 vs SEA, 3 vs BAL
Division Leaders
West LAA 96 61 Champ Loss 9-8 2 at OAK, 3 at SEA
East BAL 93 63 Champ Loss 4-2 3 at NYY, 3 at TOR
Central DET 86 70 +1.0 Loss 7 2-5 2 vs CWS, 4 vs MIN

Monday's recaps

The Mariners were pounded into dust by the Toronto Blue Jays before the A's even took the field Monday night, lowering the magic number to reach the AL Wild Card game to five. The A's win made that number four, now with six games to spare, and also prevents the Blue Jays from catching Oakland.

The Royals and Indians completed the suspended game from August with the Indians hanging onto their win, but not before turning it into a one-run game. In the nightcap, the Royals shutout the Indians 2-0.

This works out in a way because it means the Royals will continue to have something to play for, the AL Central title, all the way to the end of the year. Trailing the Detroit Tigers by just one game now after Detroit lost to the Chicago White Sox, the Tigers and Royals will need every start they can get from their top of the line starters, and will not have a chance to rest any starters if they want to rearrange their rotations.

The A's may be able to eliminate the Yankees and Indians from any hope of passing them tomorrow. For now, enjoy these excerpts of Monday's game recaps from around the SBNation network.

AL Wild Card Contenders

Indians 4, Royals 3 (10) (Game 1)

From Jason Lukehart of Let's Go Tribe:

Nori Aoki probably thought about bunting, but with two outs, he apparently decided against it, and singled to left instead, making it a 4-3 game. He was then replaced by a pinch runner, who also stole second, this time because Yan Gomes made a bad throw. At that point I'm sure I wasn't the only Tribe fan with their face in their hands, but on his 19th pitch of the inning Atchison got Omar Infante to hit an infield fly ball for the final out of the game.

Royals 2, Indians 0 (Game 2)

From Josh Duggan of Royals Review:

Monday's full tilt between the Racists and Royals was every bit the low-scoring affair one would expect given the match-up between starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Duffy. Both Clevelander and Kansas City's batters had difficulty getting good wood on Duffy and Carrasco's offerings.

From USSChoo of Let's Go Tribe:

I don't fancy myself much of a defeatist but, perhaps, the hope has all run out.

...

Oh, I lied, the other bright spot was that Seattle lost 14-4 to Toronto who, out of the race, showed up and played some solid baseball anyway. Hope lives with quietest murmur of a heartbeat, but it lives. Somebody call a doctor.

Yankees 5, Orioles 0

From Caitlin Rogers of Pinstripe Alley:

Tonight's game kicked off Derek Jeter's final series in New York, and the Captain continued what is now a six-game hitting streak. The offense had a pretty good night altogether, with Jose Pirela making a fantastic MLB debut. Even more impressive was Michael Pineda, who pitched a nearly perfect game as the Yankees went on to shut out the Orioles.

Blue Jays 14, Mariners 4

From Scott C. of Bluebird Banter:

That was just not a good game of baseball for the neutral observer. Luckily most of us reading this recap are not neutral observers in the slightest and enjoyed the absolute pummelling that the Blue Jays put on the Seattle Mariners tonight. J.A. Happ had a pretty good start, although the humongous big run support didn't hurt things.

...

The loss drops Seattle to 83-73 and they now sit 2.0 games back of Kansas City for the second Wild Card. It will certainly be a disappointment for Mariners fans to miss the playoffs with stars such as Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Robinson Cano on their team, but HEY look at the Jays!

From Matt Ellis of Lookout Landing:

I don't really know what to write. I'm not sure I even really need to describe anything that just happened. Just look at that score and date combination, because it's all the information you really need to know about this.

White Sox 2, Tigers 0

From Catherine Slonksnis of Bless You Boys:

Despite two White Sox errors and several scoring opportunities the Tigers were unable to take the lead, let alone get on the board. While the offense outhit Chicago 6-5, they left eight men on-base and were 0-6 with runners in scoring position. Only Victor Martinez finished with multiple hits, finishing 2-2 with a double and a walk.

Tuesday's games to watch

Tuesday's games feature the four o'clock quadruple-header of Royals-Indians, Orioles-Yankees, Mariners-Blue Jays, and White Sox-Tigers. If I had to pick one, it would be Mariners-Blue Jays for that main magic number factor, though keep an eye on the Indians to chase that second wild card spot. The A's would do well to leave them in the rear view mirror.

The day ends at seven o'clock with the Athletics and Angels in the second game of the final three-game set against the Los Angeles Angels.

Time (PT) Starting Pitcher Notes
4:05 PM Royals Yordano Ventura (13-10, 3.19) M# vs. KC = 6
Indians Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.02) M# vs. CLE = 2
4:05 PM Orioles Ubaldo Jimenez (5-9, 4.90)
Yankees Brandon McCarthy (10-14, 3.93) M# vs. NYY = 2
4:07 PM Mariners Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.07) M# vs. SEA = 4
Blue Jays R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.82)
4:08 PM White Sox Scott Carroll (5-10, 5.01)
Tigers David Price (14-12, 3.37) M# vs. DET = 7
7:05 PM Angels Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 5.24)
Athletics Sonny Gray (13-9, 3.28)