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The Juice: Yankees move to within one game of AL Wild Card after defeating and passing Orioles

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The American League Wild Card is a six team race for two positions, but the New York Yankees chances undoubtedly took a hit on Wednesday when it was announced Derek Jeter was done for the season with lingering ankle issues. To their credit, though, they didn’t look like a team deterred by the news on Wednesday night as they connected for three home runs in a 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

After falling behind 3-1 in the fourth inning, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez hit solo shots in the fifth and sixth innings respectively to knot the game at three. Then in the ninth, Robinson Cano hit the biggest of the three, a solo shot off Tommy Hunter to make it 4-3. New York would also get an insurance run on Lyle Overbay’s RBI single, and that one proved important because Mariano Rivera wasn’t exactly lights out in the ninth allowing a run on two hits.

''We get down tonight and come back again,'' manager Joe Girardi said of the win. ''We were able to take the lead in the ninth. We get a huge homer by Robbie and then a huge hit by Lyle that winds up being a lot bigger.''

No doubt it was a hard fought division battle, but the implications were much bigger. As a result of the victory, the Yankees have now leapfrogged the Orioles in the AL Wild Card standings and are within one game of Tampa Bay for the second position. How did the second part come about?

Free falling: Because the Tampa Bay Rays lost for the 13th time in 17 games after dropping a 7-3 decision to the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings. Yes, the Red Sox helped out the Yankees again, but more importantly to them cut their magic number down to eight games in the AL East. Pinch-hitter Mike Carp hit a grand slam off Roberto Hernandez — Boston’s first extra-inning grand slam since Dwight Evans in 1989 — to provide the difference.

Royal pains: Alex Gordon started a three-run first inning for Kansas City by homering on the game’s first pitch. James Shields would give two right back to the Cleveland Indians in the bottom half, but settled in from there as the Royals added single insurance runs in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings to win it 6-2. You know how I said six teams are still in the Wild Card hunt? The Royals are among them at just two games back.

Reds 6, Cubs 0: After being shutout twice by Chicago pitching, Mike Leake and the Reds returned the favor in the series finale.

Pirates 7, Rangers 5: Statement series complete. Pirates finish the sweep and improve to 15-5 in interleague play.

Giants 4, Rockies 3: Colorado’s fourth last at-bat loss during their 1-5 road trip.

Phillies 4, Padres 2: Cliff Lee continued his strong season with eight innings of two-run ball.

Marlins 5, Braves 2: Jose Fernandez did it all in his final start of the season. On the hill, he allowed one run over seven innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.19. At the plate, he connected for his first career home run and was involved in a benches clearing altercation.

Angels 5, Blue Jays 4: Mark Trumbo stayed hot with a two-run homer. C.J. Wilson wins his 16th.

Nationals 3, Mets 0: The good Dan Haren showed up for Washington. They’ve won five in a row and remain on the fringe of contention in the NL Wild Card race.

Tigers 1, White Sox 0: Anibal Sanchez and three Tigers relievers combined on the three-hit shutout.

Cardinals 5, Brewers 1: St. Louis scored four in the eighth highlighted by Matt Adams’ two-run homer.

A's 18, Twins 3: Oakland plates 10 in the fourth en route to a three game lead in the AL West.

Astros 6, Mariners 1: Houston completes their first sweep since June 1-3 against the Los Angeles Angels.

Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 1: Paul Goldschmidt had four hits and two RBIs raising his National League leading total to 109.

''The thing I'm most impressed with is our consistency, our focus and our preparation. It doesn't waver. We didn't come here with sweep on our mind. We came in here to win the first game.''

— Clint Hurdle

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(USA Today)

• Chris Davis became the first player in Orioles franchise history with 40 doubles and 40 HR in the same season.

• Jose Fernandez is the only pitcher to have a double, triple and home run this season.

• The Astros are 18-17 against Angels and Mariners this season, but only 6-29 against A's and Rangers. (Via Larry Stone)

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