Daily Sports: Ninth-Inning Drama In AL Wild-Card Race

Cleveland and Texas both went to the wire before surviving 6-5 decisions on Thursday night, keeping the Indians a game up on the Rangers for the final wild-card berth. And Tampa Bay finished off a sweep of the Bronx to keep their own lead over Texas at two games as we head into the final weekend. Here’s how last night broke down…

Texas 6 LA Angels 5: Jurickson Profar and Craig Gentry have been a part of the Rangers’ offensive woes this season, but both came up big last night. Gentry had three hits, and Profar delivered the game’s biggest hit, a ninth-inning walkoff off Michael Kohn to snap a 5-5 tie.

Cleveland 6 Minnesota 5: You never quibble over a win at this time of year, no matter how ugly it looks. But Terry Francona has got to be nervous about closer Chris Perez, who gave up four runs in the ninth and had to be pulled as Cleveland held off a final Twins rally.

Recall that Perez also blew a save against the White Sox earlier this week before being bailed out by Jason Giambi’s game-winning home run. With three regular season games left, potential tiebreaker games and then Wednesday’s wild-card game, there’s no room for a dysfunctional closer right now.

Tampa Bay 4 NY Yanks 0: Evan Longoria is locked in right now, going 2-for-4 and driving in three runs. James Loney added three hits of his own as the Rays get a win on a night where the final Yankee Stadium for Mariano Rivera was the big story.

All three teams continue with the same opponents throughout the weekend. The last piece of unfinished business in the National League—beyond seeding– is who wins the Central, and that can be settled tonight by either the Cardinals beating the Cubs or the Reds losing to the Pirates. We know that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will play again Tuesday night in the wild-card game and whomever wins this weekend series will host that game.

MLB Network starts its Friday night coverage at 8 PM ET, splitting between Indians-Twins and Angels-Rangers. College football rounds out the daily sports agenda with a good game at the midmajor level, with Utah State and San Jose State at 9 PM ET on ESPN. Both have aspirations of winning the Mountain West in a year where Boise is vulnerable.