February 2, 2023

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The Sports Fanatics

AL wild-card race: Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Mariners collect critical wins; Athletics eliminated

Entering Wednesday’s slate of games, the American League wild card picture remained in flux. The New York Yankees continued their series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a two-game lead for the top spot. The Boston Red Sox, meanwhile, were attempting to fend off the Seattle Mariners (just a half-game back) and end a four-game losing streak against the Baltimore Orioles. The Oakland Athletics, still theoretically alive at the start of the night, had their own reasons for trying to upend the Mariners’ recent run.

How did the night’s action play out? Below you can find all you need to know, as well as relive CBS Sports’ live blog coverage throughout the night.

AL wild-card standings

1. Yankees — 90-68 (+1 G)
2. Red Sox — 89-69
3. Mariners — 89-70 (1/2 GB) 
4. Blue Jays — 88-70 (1 GB)

Blue Jays slug their way to victory

On paper, Wednesday night’s pitching matchup between Gerrit Cole and José Berríos seemed primed to be a low-scoring affair. In practice, it was not. Rather, the Blue Jays’ ever-threatening lineup put on a show as part of a 6-5 victory (box score).

George Springer led off the bottom of the first with a double and the Blue Jays were off and slugging from there. In total, Toronto recorded eight extra-base hits. Bo Bichette was responsible for three of them, doubling and delivering his 27th and 28th home runs of the season. Marcus Semien also homered, setting a record for second basemen with 44 dingers on the year. Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Santiago Espinal provided the other extra-base knocks, all of the doubles variety.

In addition to Semien’s record, the Blue Jays lineup made history of its own. Toronto became the first team since the 2003 Braves to see four players clear the 100-runs batted in mark, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Those four? Teoscar Hernández, Guerrero, Semien, and Bichette.

The win puts the Blue Jays just two games back of the Yankees for the top wild card spot with Thursday’s series finale to go. The Blue Jays did appear likely to gain ground on the Red Sox, however, meaning they’ll remain a game outside of the playoff picture with just four days remaining in the regular season. 

Red Sox down Orioles, maintain wild card lead 

The Red Sox faced a straightforward situation entering Wednesday’s contest against the Orioles: a loss plus a Mariners win would leave them outside of the playoff picture with just days to go in the regular season. That’s because the Red Sox, losers of four in a row, had seen their lead for the second wild card spot reduced to a half game.

Thanks to J.D. Martinez, the Red Sox needn’t worry about the possibility for a little longer.

Martinez put Boston on the board early with a solo home run, his 28th of the campaign. Later, he plated a pair of runs with a double to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. Martinez has now driven in 99 runs on the year, positioning him for fifth career 100-RBI season. Alex Verdugo added two runs of his own in the eighth before Hunter Renfroe homered in the ninth to give Boston an insurmountable 6-0 lead (box score).

The Yankees loss means the Red Sox are now just one game behind the Yankees for the top wild card spot.

The Red Sox will wrap up their series against the Orioles on Thursday before traversing to D.C. for a three-game, season-ending series against the Nationals. 

Mariners stay hot, eliminate Athletics

The Mariners won their fourth consecutive game on Wednesday, edging the Athletics in a 4-2 affair (box score). The Mariners fell behind the Athletics in the middle innings before taking a 2-1 lead in the sixth on a Jarred Kelenic double. The A’s subsequently tied the game on a Seth Brown home run, but Seattle retook the lead when Ty France hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Abraham Toro later homered in the eighth to give Seattle a 4-2 lead.

The Mariners entered Wednesday a half game back of the Red Sox for the second wild card spot. Boston knocked off the Orioles earlier in the night, meaning there will be no change on that front. The Mariners did, however, technically gain ground on the Yankees as New York lost a slugfest against the Blue Jays.

The Mariners will have Thursday off before hosting the Angels for three games this weekend. The Red Sox, for their part, will complete their series against the Orioles on Thursday before taking on the Nationals in D.C. for three games. 

As for the A’s, the combination of a Red Sox victory and their own defeat left them 4 1/2 games back with three to play. Obviously that’s mathematically impossible to make up, and so thehir postseason dreams are over.

Follow along below for live updates, scores, highlights and analysis from Wednesday night in the AL wild-card race.