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Blue Jays and Orioles lose critical games thanks to crushing errors

Welcome to The Walk Off, the nightly MLB recap from Big League Stew. Here we’ll look at the top performers of the night, show you a must-see highlight and rundown the scoreboard. First, we start with a game you need to know about.

The atmosphere for this week’s Blue Jays-Mariners series at Safeco Field and Red Sox-Orioles at Camden Yards have been off the charts. That was no different on Wednesday, as the American League playoff contenders postured for position in two intense games that elevated the atmosphere from electric to mid-October levels of cranziness.

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Unfortunately, both games were also mostly decided by defensive blunders that knocked the wind out of the respective losing team as much as they raised the spirits of the winners.

Beginning in Seattle, Aaron Sanchez and Felix Hernandez went toe-to-toe in a fantastic pitcher’s duel. Sanchez allowed one run over six innings, while Hernandez hurled seven scoreless, but both ended with no-decisions as the game continued into extra innings.

Robinson Cano (middle) celebrates his game-winning sacrifice fly. (Getty)
Robinson Cano (middle) celebrates his game-winning sacrifice fly. (Getty)

Knowing the importance of the game, Blue Jays manager John Farrell went with the all-hands-on-deck approach. That led to starting pitcher R.A. Dickey pitching the 12th inning. It didn’t work out though, because third baseman Josh Donaldson committed a two-base throwing error and then dropped a throw allowing the winning run to reach third base with nobody out. Robinson Cano followed with a walk-off sacrifice fly that gave Seattle a huge 2-1 win.

The pitching was just as good In Baltimore. Ubaldo Jimenez kept Boston’s offense off the board into sixth inning, before leaving with two runners on base. Those runs would ultimately score after Chris Davis fired past a covering Brad Brach on what should have been an inning-ending out at first base.

One batter later, rookie Andrew Benintendi turned the inning into a complete disaster by launching a three-run home run. That gave Boston five unearned runs in the inning, which was more than Boston needed in its 5-1 win. The win went to Clay Buchholz, who allowed one run over his seven innings.

As for the damage in the standings, Toronto and Baltimore fell to five and six games back respectively in the AL East. In the wild card, Detroit and Houston both moved to one-game back of Baltimore for the second wild card spot, while Seattle moved to within two games.

The next 11 days are going to be wild.

TOP PERFORMERS

Yasiel Puig: The Giants will be glad they don’t have to look at Puig again this week. The Dodgers outfielder was in the middle of some hostilities on Monday, and he was a thorn in their side Wednesday, connecting for a first-inning three-run homer in the Dodgers 9-3 win. Puig later added a remarkable running catch in center field as the Dodgers lowered their magic number to five.

Evan Gattis: There would be no celebration in Arlington, Texas. Gattis and the Astros made sure of that before the Rangers even took the field, dispatching the A’s 6-5 in Oakland. Gattis led the charge offensively, drilling his 29th and 30th home runs of the season. His two-run shot in the sixth capped a three-run rally, while his eighth-inning solo blast proved to be a needed insurance run.

Gary Sanchez: A historic rookie season continued as Sanchez hit two more home runs in the Yankees 11-5 win against the Rays. The homers were Sanchez’s 18th and 19th in 45 career games, making him the fastest player to reach that mark in the modern era.

Paul Goldschmidt: Arizona’s first baseman provided all of the offense in a 3-2 win against San Diego. He hit a solo homer in the first inning and a two-run shot in the sixth, both against Padres starter Luis Perdomo. Goldschmidt has 23 on the season.

MUST-SEE HIGHLIGHT

You will not find a bigger or better play than this game-ending home run robbery by Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte. Yoenis Cespedes thought he’d hit a three-run walk-off homer for the Mets. Instead, Inciarte pulled it back and secured a Braves 4-3 win, which completed a huge three-game sweep. Here’s more on how this play could impact the wild card race in the NL.

REST OF SCOREBOARD

Rockies 11, Cardinals 1: A no-contest at Coors Field. Colorado scored five in the second, capped by Nolan Arenado’s grand slam, as the Cardinals lose ground in the NL wild card.

Phillies 8, White Sox 3: Philadelphia sweeps a quick two-game series to send the White Sox to a season-worst eight games under .500.

Indians 4, Royals 3: Ace Corey Kluber notched his 18th win by striking out nine and allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Cleveland lowered its magic number to five in the AL Central.

Nationals 8, Marlins 3: Thanks to Max Scherzer’s 18th win and the craziness in New York, Washington’s magic numbers is down to two in the NL East.

Cubs 9, Reds 2: The Cubs have equaled their 2015 win total of 97 with 10 games left to spare. The team has not won 98 games since its last World Series series in 1945.

Angels 5, Rangers 4: The Rangers magic number stays at two. Mike Trout was the big spoiler here, connecting for a three-run homer in the fifth.

Tigers vs. Twins: (Postponed by rain): The teams will play a day-night doubleheader on Thursday with games at 2:10 and 8:10 p.m. ET.

Pirates 4, Brewers 1: Pittsburgh has won six straight at Miller Park after going 19-64 in their previous 83 games there.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!