One AL team just entered the second Wild Card slot while an NL team remains in the hunt.
Oakland Athletics (73-53, 2nd AL West, T-2nd WC)
The A’s remain in the hunt for the Wild Card after a recent stretch of important games. After taking three of four from the Astros, the A’s welcomed the Yankees to Oakland this week for a three-game series.
Now tied for the second wild card spot with the rays, the A’s have a fairly easy remaining schedule to wrap up the regular season. With the Rays also playing consistently well, the Athletics will need to continue this hot stretch to have hopes of securing the second WC spot over Tampa come late September.
The A’s continued their home stand with a matchup against the Yankees on Monday. Homer Bailey took the mound for Oakland against the young and talented Domingo German of the Yankees.
The Yanks took a quick lead in the first frame after a solo homer from Gary Sanchez, but the A’s answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Matt Olson hit a two-run homer to give the A’s the quick 2-1 lead, and Mark Cahna followed Olson with a homer of his own for back to back dingers.
Homer Bailey would allow just one run, as he went 5.2 innings while striking out eight. Domingo German was pulled at 5.1 innings after giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks.
In the sixth, the A’s would extend their lead on a Stephen Piscotty RBI single. Thanks to an error from Cameron Maybin, another run would cross the plate. The Yanks would plate one more of their own on a 467-foot Aaron Judge solo homer in the 8th, but the A’s would go on to win the game, 6-2.
The flaming-hot Mike Fiers (pun intended) took the bump for the A’s on Wednesday looking to continue his dominance in the second half of the season. The Yankees plated a run in the top of the 2nd inning from a Mike Tauchman RBI single. But the A’s responded yet again thanks to a Khris Davis two-run bomb. Oakland didn’t look back as Marcus Semien cranked another two-run homer for the A’s in the third inning.
Mark Cahna drove in a run in the 5th, and Stephen Piscotty hit a solo shot in the 6th to give the A’s a 6-2 lead. After a Didi Gregorius RBI double and a Mike Ford solo homer, the lead was cut down to 6-4. However, Liam Hendricks entered the game in the 8th and completed the five-out save to help give the Athletics a 6-4 win.
Tanner Roark is slated to pitch tonight for the A’s against Masahiro Tanaka. Roark, acquired by the A’s from the Reds at the deadline, has posted a 2.55 ERA in his three starts for Oakland on the season. The A’s look to sweep New York and take sole possession of the 2nd wild card spot tonight.
Philadelphia Phillies (66-60, T-3rd NL East, 1.5 WCGB)
The Phils’ season has been up and down. Since Philly re-hired Charlie Manuel as a hitting coach, the team has been playing great baseball. Last week they had a big series sweep against the Cubs, which featured one of the greatest home run trots, or sprints, that we’ve seen when Bryce Harper MASHED a walk-off grand slam and sprinted around the bases.
The Phils are getting hot at the right time as their lineup and pitching are playing great team baseball.
The Phils took to Boston to play the depleted Red Sox for a two-game series. Aaron Nola took the bump for the Phillies against Brian Johnson in Game 1. Jean Segura kicked things off in the first inning with a two-run RBI double. Shortly after, Scott Kingery drove in Segura to give the Phillies a quick 3-0 lead. In the third inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer for the Sox to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Both pitching staffs were spotless from there on out. The Red Sox bullpen showed up for once and didn’t allow a run in their 5.1 innings pitched, while Aaron Nola would go on to pitch seven frames striking out seven and allowing just four hits. The Phils’ pitching got the best of the Boston lineup and would go on to win 3-2.
The Red Sox jumped ahead quickly in Wednesday’s affair. Rafael Devers drove in Mookie Betts in the first inning on an RBI double, and they would extend the lead in the 2nd with a solo homer from Jackie Bradley Jr. But the lead would be taken by the Phillies in the 5th inning, highlighted by a two-run jack from Bryce Harper. Corey Dickerson later plated a run on an RBI single in the 9th en route to a 5-2 Phillies W and two-game sweep.
The Phillies travel to Miami this weekend for what should be an easy three-game series against the Marlins. Vince Velazquez is slated to face Hector Noesi in Game 1 on Friday night.
Waiver Wire Targets
Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks (32.3% owned/ESPN)
Ahmed won NL Player of the Week honors last week. His seven homers and .323 average helped give him the POTW award, but his 1.145 OPS and .403 OBP are what really stick out for the D-Backs shortstop this month. Now with 17 homers and 70 RBI’s on the season, he makes for a decent bench SS, or if you’re like me and waiting for the unlikely return or Adalberto Mondesi, you may want to plug him into your lineup.
Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers (22.4% owned, ESPN)
The Dodgers churn out good pitchers like no other organization in baseball except for, maybe, the Astros. This Tony Gonsolin guy is actually good. Through his 18 IP in four starts, he’s struck out 15 batters and allowed six runs, four of which came from his first start. He’s a good value pitcher and is great for depth on your bench for sure, especially if he keeps making efficient starts for the Dodgers.
Retired Little League baseball utility player.