Detroit and Texas had clinched AL spots, Milwaukee and Arizona had earned them in the NL. But no pairings had been set as those division champions scrapped for home-field advantage, down to the last out.
“We don’t feel like we have anything to lose. We’ve had a great run,” Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist said. “We’re hoping to cap it with a playoff berth.”
Boston stranded the potential tying run at second base in the ninth, holding on for an 8-7 win at Baltimore on Tuesday night. The Red Sox haven’t won consecutive games since sweeping a doubleheader against Oakland on Aug. 27.
Looking for a sign of serendipity, Red Sox Nation? Rookie Ryan Lavarnway, the Yale thinker who never played a big league game before August, started because of injuries to catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek and hit a three-run homer and a solo shot.
“Everybody’s been watching the scoreboard and knowing that we need to win tonight so we can come back tomorrow and fight through it again,” Boston star David Ortiz said. “I hope if I’m still here next year we can make it easier. We’re playing like this is a playoff already.”
At Tropicana Field, the Rays turned a 5-4-3 triple play to beat the Yankees, only the third in franchise history.
“Everybody’s thirsty for offense, and we’d like to score more,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But we’re built around pitching and defense.”
In the NL, Atlanta lost to the best-in-the-majors Phillies on the next-to-the-last-night while St. Louis overcame a five-run deficit to win at worst-in-the-big-leagues Houston. The scheduled finales had the Braves starting about an hour before the Astros.
At Arizona, Ryan Roberts‘ grand slam capped a six-run 10th for a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. The D-backs became the first team to overcome a five-run deficit in extras and win since Pittsburgh against the Chicago Cubs on April 21, 1991, according to STATS LLC.
Roberts channeled his manager, pointing at the Arizona dugout and pumping his fist over and over to imitate Kirk Gibson’s famed home run trot after his game-winning shot in the 1988 World Series.
“That was unbelievable,” Roberts said. “I’ve never been a part of something like that. Everything on this team blows my mind.”
AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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