Rangers clinch home advantage, Bluejays slip up

By Joe Rodgers, with Iain Strachan 1 October 2016 62
Rangers clinch home advantage, Bluejays slip up

The Texas Rangers secured the best regular-season record in the American League and the number one seed for the MLB playoffs with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Carlos Beltran and Rougned Odor went deep for Texas while Yu Darvish hurled six innings of one-run ball with 12 strikeouts for his seventh win of the season, securing post-season home advantage for the first time in the Rangers' history courtesy of the AL's All-Star Game success.

Elsewhere, a tiebreaking two-run homer from the retiring David Ortiz in the bottom of the seventh fired the Red Sox to a 5-3 win over Toronto Blue Jays, who dropped into the second AL Wild Card spot.

Boston preserved a half-game lead for home-field advantage in the AL Division Series over Cleveland Indians, who defeated Kansas City Royals 7-2, Ryan Merritt recording his first Major League win in his first start.

Three homers in a six-run fifth saw Baltimore smash New York Yankees 8-1, the Orioles moving ahead of the Jays in the race for the top AL Wild Card berth.

Former Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 5 with two homers and three RBIs as Detroit Tigers moved within a half-game of the Jays, beating Atlanta Braves 6-2.

And the Seattle Mariners also remain in the hunt for the second Wild Card spot, having beaten the Oakland Athletics 5-1. 

New York Mets secured at least a tie for the National League Wild Card spot by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies by the same score.

A stunning seven-run sixth inning saw San Francisco Giants upset Los Angeles Dodgers 9-3 to occupy the second NL Wild Card spot.

NL East leaders Washington Nationals are yet to secure home-field advantage after going down 7-4 at home to the Miami Marlins.

In other matches, Chicago Cubs overcame Cincinnati Reds 7-3, Chicago White Sox saw off the Minnesota Twins by the same score and the Milwaukee Brewers went down 4-1 at Colorado Rockies.

Los Angeles Angels thumped Houston Astros 7-1 and Arizona Diamondbacks defeated San Diego Padres 5-3.


Health issues? A change is as good as a Holliday

In possibly his final at-bat in a Cardinals uniform - and despite still suffering from a broken thumb - Matt Holliday hit a pinch-hit farewell homer as St. Louis defeated Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0.

Yet another Ortiz late show

As the 40-year-old's farewell season draws to a close, Ortiz connected with his 36th go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later in a Red Sox uniform, tying Carl Yastrzemski for second-most behind Ted Williams. 

On the flip side, the Blue Jays bullpen has now lost 32 games this year. No MLB team has reached the postseason with more than 30 such losses. 

Rodon ties AL record 

White Sox southpaw Carlos Rodon struck out the first seven Twins batters he faced, tying an AL record. Rodon finished with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work. 


Tigers turn to fit-again Zimmermann 

With the Tigers playoffs hopes on the line, Jordan Zimmermann (9-6, 4.88 ERA) takes the mound for just the third time since June 30 as he recovers from neck and control issues. 

Luckily he will face a familiar foe, Aaron Blair (1-7, 8.02 ERA) and the Braves, whom Zimmermann faced 16 times with the Nationals, going 7-3 with a 2.55 ERA.