Wild-Card Roundup: Rangers, Mariners both win, stay one game behind Blue Jays

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The Toronto Blue Jays maintained their pace in the AL Wild-Card race, remaining in second place thanks to a fourth-straight win in their series opener against the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

With the victory, Toronto stays a game ahead of the Texas Rangers, who finally got back in the win column, and the Seattle Mariners, who beat the lowly Oakland Athletics 7-2.

The Mariners and Rangers are tied for third in the wild-card race. The fourth-place team will not make the playoffs.

Meanwhile, with just two wins in their last five games, the Houston Astros have seen their lead in the AL West shrink to just a half-game with their divisional rivals picking up victories.

MARINERS 7, ATHLETICS 2

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Even out on Puget Sound during an off-day fishing excursion last week, Luis Castillo did his share of winning: He pulled in the most salmon and left Mariners manager Scott Servais in awe and admiring his skill set yet again.

No surprise to anybody in Seattle the way Castillo’s spectacular season is going.

“I’m a guy who loves to fish,” Castillo explained with a smile after his latest pitching gem. “There’s always been the saying out there that in the sea life is sweeter. It was a happy moment with Scott and the pitching coach. We had a beautiful morning.”

J.P. Crawford homered in the ninth inning and Jarred Kelenic hit a pair of RBI singles to support Castillo’s eighth consecutive winning decision, leading Seattle past the Oakland Athletics 7-2 on Tuesday night.

Castillo (14-7) struck out eight over seven innings, topping 200 Ks while pushing toward 200 innings — a mark that will mean more to him given it shows how dependable and competitive he has been.

In all 31 starts, Castillo has lasted at least five innings.

“He loves to fish,” Servais said. “The little things about players, the things that you can connect with them with are so valuable. That’s what it’s about, it’s about relationships, trusting guys. And we trust the Rock, anytime, against anybody, in any situation. It’s fun to get to know him because there’s a lot going on inside. He caught more fish, but it was a great experience. It was a lot of fun.”

Castillo has won three straight starts and is 8-0 over his last 12 since a July 14 loss to Detroit. Castillo needs one win to match his season high, set with Cincinnati in 2019.

Seattle (83-68) remained tied with Texas for the last AL wild card berth and closed within a half-game of AL West-leading Houston (84-68).

“Wow, I can’t say enough about the season Luis Castillo has had,” Servais said. “He just keeps adding on, awesome outing tonight. He has been so solid. He is the rock. Every time out there he’s given us great effort, a chance to win and he’s on a great roll right now. … I hope he’s got a few more outings like that in him, we’re going to need it here down the stretch.”

The A’s (46-105) lost their sixth straight and fell 59 games below .500 for the first time since the Philadelphia A’s were 47-106 on Oct. 2, 1920.

Oakland manager Mark Kotsay was ejected in the fifth by first base umpire Jansen Visconti for arguing a check swing. Then later that inning Julio Rodriguez’s single was overturned upon review after the A’s challenged. Rodriguez then singled in the ninth for his first hit at the Coliseum this season in 16 at-bats.

The game was played under smoky skies from wildfires in Northern California and Oregon.

Crawford and Teoscar Hernandez each added RBI doubles for Seattle, which jumped on A’s starter Paul Blackburn (4-6) early. He is 5-12 over 27 career games versus AL West teams.

He appreciated Castillo’s day, too.

“It’s fun to watch that guy pitch,” Blackburn said, “and when he’s on, he’s definitely hard to hit.”

The A’s, who avoided being shut out for the 16th time after a 5-0 defeat Monday, are 1-11 against Seattle this season with one game remaining.

STEAL AWAY

A day after Esteury Ruiz stole two more bases to give him 61 on the year, the Oakland outfielder was caught stealing following a third-inning single _ just his 11th time being caught all season.

Ruiz needs six more to break Kenny Lofton’s AL rookie record of 66 set in 1992.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: C Cal Raleigh returned to the lineup following his first day off since July 26 in Monday’s series-opening shutout. He added an RBI single in the seventh and also scored a run on a wild pitch by Easton Lucas.

Athletics: OF JJ Bleday, sidelined since Aug. 14 with a sprained left knee, ran the bases with sliding incorporated and hit early batting practice off the machine. He is scheduled to repeat that baseball activity Thursday then begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday playing seven innings of defense before serving as designated hitter Saturday. He could rejoin the A’s for their series in Minnesota beginning Tuesday.

UP NEXT

RHP George Kirby (10-10, 3.57 ERA) pitches Wednesday afternoon’s series finale for Seattle having gone 2-0 for his career vs. Oakland over five previous starts, while the A’s send RHP Joey Estes to the mound for his major league debut. He will be the 61st pitcher in Oakland history to start in his debut and fifth this season.

RANGERS 6, RED SOX 4

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Josh Jung hit a tiebreaking single in a two-run seventh inning, and the Texas Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 6-4 on Tuesday night in their bid for an AL wild card.

Texas, which ended a four-game losing streak, closed within a half-game of AL West-leading Houston. The Rangers began the night tied with Seattle for the third wild card.

Texas plays the Mariners in seven of its last 10 games. The Rangers are one game behind Toronto for the second wild card.

“It’s going to be a fight every night,” said Jung, who returned Monday after missing 37 games with a fractured left thumb.

Aroldis Chapman (6-4) retired five consecutive batters in the seventh and eighth innings, striking out three, and Jose Leclerc pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in eight chances.

Chapman’s 1,145 strikeouts are 10th among relievers.

“I think the addition of that sinker, he’s making it tougher for everybody,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.

With the score 4-4, Marcus Semien was hit by a pitch from Chris Murphy (1-2) leading off the seventh and took second on Corey Seager’s single. John Schreiber relieved with one out and Jung grounded a single to center. Schreiber forced in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Jonah Heim.

Boston, last in the AL East, has lost five of six.

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy was ejected in the seventh by plate umpire Ben May after a ball four to Luis Urias. Alex Verdugo followed with a potential inning-ending, double-play grounder to shortstop but Seager’s throw to second sailed into right field for an error that tied the score 4-4.

“I was kidding the staff now: `Hey I need to leave the dugout a little bit more,”’ Bochy said.

Adolis Garcia’s career-best 35th homer, his first since coming off the injured list, put Texas ahead in the second. Justin Turner hit a tying RBI grounder in a three-run third that included Masataka Yoshida’s two-run single.

Semien hit a run-scoring single in the fifth, and Texas went ahead 4-3 in the sixth on Leody Taveras’s run-scoring single and Heim’s RBI double.

FOR STARTERS

Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed three runs, four hits and three walks in five innings. It was his fourth start since coming off the 15-day injured list on Sept. 5. He didn’t go further than 3 1/3 innings in his previous three outings.

Boston’s Tanner Houck gave up two runs, three hits and four walks in four innings.

THE BAND’S BACK TOGETHER

Tuesday’s game was Texas’ first since July 18 featuring all six of its 2023 all-stars: Eovaldi, Garcia, Semien, Seager, Jung and Heim.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: OF Wilyer Abreu (sore hand) is day to day. ? An MRI revealed 1B Triston Casas, who won’t play anymore this season, has bursitis in his right shoulder.

Rangers: Bochy said RHP Josh Sborz (biceps tendinitis) is close to returning after throwing Monday.

UP NEXT

Wednesday afternoon’s rubber game will match Rangers RHP Jon Gray (8-8, 4.05 ERA) against Red Sox RHP Brayan Bello (12-9, 3.71). Gray is 0-3 in his previous six outings. Bello comes off a loss and hasn’t lost consecutive starts since early June.

RAYS 6, ANGELS 2

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Osleivis Basabe hit a tiebreaking two-run double in a four-run eighth inning and the playoff-bound Tampa Bay Rays beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-2 on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay loaded the bases with one out against Aaron Loup (2-3) before Basabe lined his hit to center over the head of former Rays’ player Brett Phillips. René Pinto followed with a single that drove in two more runs.

“I was a little anxious going into that at-bat, especially after having a couple strikeouts earlier in the day,” Basabe said through a translator. “I knew I had hit it well. I didn’t realize he was playing so far in. Once I saw that he was running back, I was hoping it would score those runs.”

Basabe was called up from Triple-A Durham last month when Wander Franco was placed on administrative leave indefinitely by Major League Baseball while authorities in the Dominican Republic investigate the Tampa Bay Rays’ All-Star shortstop for an alleged relationship with a minor.

Randy Arozarena homered for the AL wild card-leading Rays, who started the day 2 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. The Orioles, who were playing the Houston Astros, hold the tiebreaker.

“We’re playing for the division,” Arozarena said through a translator. “The 10 games from here on out are very important for us in order to win that division.”

Logan O’Hoppe and Zach Neto homered for the Angels, who have lost six in a row.

Los Angeles left fielder Randal Grichuk departed with two outs in the ninth after being hit by a high pitch by Shawn Armstrong.

Angels manager Phil Nevin said the pitch got Grichuk “pretty square” on the helmet extension that protects the face.

“He seems to checking out fine,” Nevin said.

Tampa Bay needed just five pitches to take a 2-0 lead in the first when Yandy Díaz had a leadoff double and Arozarena followed with his 23rd homer off Patrick Sandoval.

Díaz had three hits to lift his batting average from from .319 to .323.

O’Hoppe made it 2-1 on a fourth-inning solo homer off rookie Taj Bradley. Neto tied it at 2 against Robert Stephenson (3-4) in the eighth.

Sandoval allowed two runs and five hits in five innings.

“After the first three hitters, I thought he threw the ball very well,” Nevin said. “It’s just the pitch count (of 100) got high. No reason to push him any further.”

Bradley gave up one run and three hits over five innings and had his winless streak reach 10 starts, dating to June 27.

It was announced before the game that Angels star Shohei Ohtani had elbow surgery Tuesday, and his doctor said he expects the two-way star will be available as a hitter on opening day next season and will return to the mound in 2025.

Ohtani tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Aug. 23, ending his pitching season. He continued as a batter through Sept. 3 until an oblique strain.

ON-BASE MACHINE

Los Angeles 1B Nolan Schanuel walked in the third to reach base in 23 straight games to start his career. It ties the St. Louis Cardinals’ Luis Alicea for the fifth longest run in the majors since 1961.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: CF Mike Trout (fractured left hamate) accompanied the team on the final road trip of the season and took dry swings.

Rays: SS Taylor Walls was reinstated from the paternity list. … RHP Jason Adam (left oblique strain) threw live batting practice.

UP NEXT

Rays RHP Aaron Civale (7-3) will face Angels LHP Reid Detmers (3-10) on Wednesday night. Civale is 2-1 with a 4.43 ERA in eight starts with Tampa Bay since being acquired from Cleveland on July 31. He has lasted 5 1/3 or fewer innings in seven of the eight outings.

ORIOLES 9, ASTROS 5

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HOUSTON (AP) — Austin Hays hit two homers and had four RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles in a 9-5 victory over slumping Houston on Tuesday night, cutting the Astros’ AL West lead to a half-game over Texas and Seattle.

Hays hit a three-run shot off Astros starter Hunter Brown (11-12) into the left-field Crawford Boxes to put Baltimore up 5-2 in the third inning. He followed with a solo shot to deep left-center field in the seventh, putting Baltimore up 8-5.

“It’s just been who we are all year,” Hays said. “It doesn’t matter what happened the day before, good or bad. We just move on to the next day, turn the page and prepare for whatever we’ve got that day.”

Houston entered Tuesday with a 1 1/2 game lead in the AL West over Texas and Seattle with 11 games remaining, but that lead was trimmed to one-half a game by the Astros’ loss and the Rangers’ 6-4 win against Boston. Houston has lost four of its last five games and six of its last eight.

The Orioles have won four straight and have a 2 1/2 game lead over Tampa Bay for the AL’s best record.

“What an amazing game by Hays,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We didn’t play our best baseball. We don’t usually beat ourselves, but our offense picked us up, and we did some good things.”

A two-run sixth inning extended Baltimore’s lead to 7-3 after James McCann scored Cedric Mullins on a bunt single and Gunnar Henderson singled to score Adam Frazier.

Heston Kjerstad also homered for Baltimore in the seventh.

Brown allowed seven runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, while striking out five and walking two.

Orioles starter Kyle Gibson went 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and five hits, while striking out five and walking two. DL Hall (3-0) worked 2/3 of an inning to earn the win, and Cionel Perez earned his second save.

“We’re able to turn things around when we need to,” Gibson said. “This was just a full team win against a really good team who has proven that they’re one of the better teams in the AL. To come in here and do that was pretty special.”

Ryan O’Hearn hit a two-run homer to give Baltimore a first-inning lead. Houston tied it at 2 in the bottom of the inning when Kyle Tucker hit a two-run home run, his 28th of the season.

“I’ve got concern, but concern is not going to solve the issue,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said on the team’s struggles at home. “We’ve got four more games here, and we’re going to have to figure it out. I don’t know exactly what it is. We’ve tried to put our finger on it.”

Alex Bregman hit a homer in the third, cutting Baltimore’s lead to 5-3 and Yainer Diaz homered in the sixth, making it 7-5.

“You’ve got to execute in all three phases if you want to win, and we didn’t do that,” Bregman said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Baltimore: 1B Ryan Mountcastle (left shoulder discomfort) was out of the lineup again for a sixth consecutive game on Tuesday, but Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he’s feeling better and is close to a return.

Houston: RHP reliever Ryne Stanek (ankle) was placed on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land on Tuesday. Stanek suffered a sprained right ankle on Sept. 4.

FRUSTRATION MOUNTING

Astros bench coach Joe Espada was ejected in the bottom of the sixth inning after appearing to complain about a strike call from home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Cuzzi stopped the game to yell back at Espada before quickly tossing him.

ROAD WARRIORS

Baltimore improved to 50-26 on the road this season, marking just the second time in franchise history that the Orioles won 50 games on the road. The club record of 52 road wins was set in 1997.

HE SAID IT

“We’re putting up a lot of runs right now, and our pitching staff just continues to do what they’ve done all year. I feel like we’re clicking right now.” — Austin Hays

UP NEXT

In the series finale on Wednesday, Houston RHP Cristian Javier (9-4, 4.74 ERA) is scheduled to square off against Baltimore RHP Kyle Bradish (11-7, 3.12 ERA).

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