Late-inning drama at Target Field, Rangers Ballpark and Yankee Stadium left the AL wild-card chase bunched going into the final weekend. A tangled trio of NL Central teams took the night off. With three days left in the regular season, a quick look at baseball’s playoff picture:
STREAKY: The Rays and Indians each have won seven games in a row, keeping them on top in the AL wild-card race. Texas has won four straight and trails Cleveland by one game, Tampa Bay by two.
CLOSING TIME: Tampa Bay won 4-0 in Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium. In a neat touch, longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte walked to the mound to pull Rivera with two outs in the ninth. “It’s time to go,” Jeter appeared to tell him. … After closer Chris Perez gave up four runs in the ninth, Cleveland held off Minnesota 6-5. Asked if Perez would keep his job, manager Terry Francona hinted at a change. “You know what? I think we’ll always figure out a way to win.”
ON DECK: The Pirates and Reds don’t seem to like each other very much, and that makes for a heated rivalry worth watching. Going into their three-game series at Cincinnati, both teams are assured playoff spots. Pittsburgh holds a one-game edge over the Reds for the NL wild-card lead — if they wind up tied, the Reds will host the one-game matchup to see who advances.
REDBIRDS READY: Every division title is locked up except the NL Central. Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals can clinch it with a win this weekend against the Cubs, or a Pittsburgh loss.
WALK THIS WAY: Pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar homered leading off the bottom of the ninth, lifting Texas over the Angels 6-5. It was a sweet replay, of sorts, for the Rangers: They swept the Angels in late July on consecutive walk-off homers by Geovany Soto, Leonys Martin and Adrian Beltre.