Another day, another team occupying the second wildcard spot in the American League - two actually.
The Kansas City Royals lost to the Red Sox again on Friday night, which allowed Detroit to leapfrog them in the AL Central. That sent KC into the wildcard and into a tie with the Seattle Mariners, who finally moved into the crucial slot with a win over the Oakland Athletics.
The M's used three solo home runs on Friday night to power a great pitching performance from James Paxton and win at Safeco Field 4-2. The win got the Mariners back to .500 at home (38-38) and moved them to 14 games over .500 overall on the season.
Paxton continued his dominance of American League pitching ever since he came off the disabled list in early August.
The Seattle left-hander missed over four months of action with a strained lat that he suffered in very early April. But the Mariners played it safe with their prized young pitcher and they're reaping the rewards down the stretch.
Paxton threw six more innings Friday, allowing just four hits and one earned run. He struck out eight and walked three in the win that moves his record to 6-2. Paxton has lowered his ERA in all but one of his eight starts since returning from the DL. The mark sits at a season-low 1.83 right now.
His emergence gives the Mariners one of the most formidable 1-2-3 punches in the big's right now and makes them a scary postseason opponent. Now, it might not be asking too much to get them to October.
Seattle wasn't able to string much together against Oakland starting pitcher Jason Hammel, but it got by with solo home runs. Robinson Cano hit his 13th in the first inning to give his side a quick lead.
And then Logan Morrison and Kendrys Morales added solo shots of their own in the fifth and sixth innings. Morrison's broke a 2-2 tie and would prove to be the decisive shot, while Morales added some welcomed insurance.
Carson Smith and Charlie Furbush combined to shut Oakland down in the seventh and eighth innings and bridged the lead to Fernando Rodney in the ninth. The Seattle closer did what he's done all year and locked down the victory for save number 45 this season. Rodney did allow two hits, but struck out two in the frame. He leads MLB in saves this season.
These two teams get back at it today with Felix Hernandez dueling against Sonny Gray.
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