The MLB season is a long one, but every game matters at this point of the year.
With the extra wild-card spot in each league, there are more teams involved in the postseason race than ever before. This gives more teams hope deep into September, but some bubbles are very close to bursting based on recent play.
The divisional series in the National League are almost settled, but all of the races in the American League are worth following.
Nearly all of Friday's games have postseason implications, and many of the teams involved are sending their ace to the mound. Here are the games to keep an eye as the season starts to come to a close.
Oakland Athletics 3, Baltimore Orioles 2
With a Yankee loss, the Orioles had a golden opportunity to take over first place in the AL East all by themselves, but failed to do so after losing to the A's. Baltimore is still tied with the Yanks for tops in the division.
A two-run homer from Yoenis Cespedes was the difference in this game, helping to waste what was a solid performance from Joe Saunders. He was outdone by A's starter, Tommy Milone.
The Orioles did manage to pick up seven hits in the game, but only two runs (one unearned) came from their offense. In the end, it wasn't nearly enough to win the game.
Orioles: 81-63 (tied for first in AL East, second in wild card)
Athletics: 83-61 (second in AL West, first in wild card)
Tampa Bay Rays 6, New York Yankees 4
C.C. Sabathia was wild and ineffective as he allowed four runs to the Rays in a losing effort. The Yankees tried to get a comeback going with home runs by Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez, but they ended up falling short.
On the other side, David Price limited the Yankees to two runs in seven innings as he won his 18th game of the year, one short of Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead.
With the win, the Rays are now only three games back in the wild card race.
Rays: 78-66 (third in AL East, fourth in wild card)
Yankees: 81-63 (tied for first in AL East, second in wild card)
Chicago White Sox 6, Minnesota Twins 0
The White Sox stayed one game ahead of the Tigers with a win over the Minnesota Twins.
First-year starter Chris Sale continued his impressive season with six scoreless innings to earn his team-leading 17th win of the season.
Chicago's offense was solid from top to bottom against the Twins pitching staff. Eight different players got hits and five different hitters had an RBI.
Both the White Sox and Tigers have easy matchups this series, so they will need to take care of business to stay ahead in the playoff race.
White Sox: 77-66 (first in AL Central)
Twins: 60-85 (fourth in AL Central, 10th in wild card)
Detroit Tigers 4, Cleveland Indians 0
Justin Verlander had an MVP-type performance when the team needed him most as he pitched seven shutout innings in a winning effort.
The Tigers jumped on starter Corey Kluber and scored four runs in the first two innings. That was more than enough for Verlander, who lowered his season ERA to 2.82.
Now, Detroit must spend the weekend rooting for the Twins against the White Sox to help keep pace in the division..
Tigers: 76-67 (second in AL Central, fifth in wild card)
Indians: 60-85 (fourth in AL Central, 10th in wild card)
Texas Rangers 9, Seattle Mariners 3
In the battle between Japanese pitchers Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma, Darvish got the better of his compatriot as he only allowed two hits and one run in seven innings.
Josh Hamilton hit his major league-leading 42nd home run of the year to pace the best offence in baseball. The Rangers are in good shape in the playoff hunt with the best record in the American League, but they want to clinch sooner than later.
Mariners: 69-76 (fourth in AL West, sixth in wild card)
Rangers: 86-58 (first in AL West)
Los Angeles Angels 9, Kansas City Royals 7
With the Yankees and Orioles losing, the Angels were able to pick up a full game in the AL Wild Card standings, moving to within 2.5 games of both teams for the final playoff spot in the AL.
C.J. Wilson didn't look so great on Friday night, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits over five innings.
But the Angels brought their bats to the stadium in this game and after falling behind 6-4 going into the seventh inning, they scored five runs in the final three frames to take back the lead and ultimately, the game.
Angels: 79-66 (third in AL West, third in wild card)
Royals: 65-79 (third in AL Central, eighth in wild card)
Atlanta Braves 2, Washington Nationals 1
A great pitcher's duel between Kris Medlen and Ross Detwiler ended with a walk-off fielder's choice in the ninth inning. Ian Desmond tried to get the runner at home on Tyler Pastornicky's ground ball but they were unable to make the play.
Medlen struck out 13 batters in seven innings, only allowing a solo home run to Bryce Harper in the sixth inning. These kept his team close enough to eventually get the win over the Nationals.
The Nationals still have a 7.5-game lead in the NL East, but the race can get interesting if the Braves keep winning in this series.
Nationals: 89-55 (first in NL East)
Braves: 82-63 (second in NL East, first in wild card)
Los Angeles Dodgers 8, St. Louis Cardinals 5
With a huge win over the Cardinals, the Dodgers now find themselves only one game out of the final playoff spot in the NL, breathing directly down the neck of St. Louis.
Chris Capuano didn't give the Dodgers the start they needed, but thanks to 4.2 innings of one-run ball from their bullpen, Los Angeles was able to piece together a victory.
Luis Cruz had four RBI on the night to go along with two apiece from Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier.
The Cards did get a decent performance out of Joe Kelly, but their bullpen let them down with five runs over just three innings of work.
Cardinals: 76-69 (second in NL Central, second in wild card)
Dodgers: 75-70 (second in NL West, third in wild card)
New York Mets 7, Milwaukee Brewers 3
The Mets had not scored more than three runs in over a week, but they were able to get home runs from Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy to outscore the Brewers 7-3.
Mike Fiers allowed more than three runs for the fourth time in his last seven starts, while Jon Neise matched his career-high with his 11th win of the season.
Milwaukee is close to falling out of the race completely if it does not win the next few games against this mediocre opponent.
Brewers: 72-72 (third in NL Central, fourth in wild card)
Mets: 66-78 (fourth in NL East, ninth in wild card)
Chicago Cubs 7, Pittsburgh Pirates 4
The Pirates have been falling hard in recent weeks. This is their seventh-straight loss and they fall to 3.5 games out of the wild card.
Chicago was able to come out on top thanks to big hits from two of its young stars. Anthony Rizzo hit a bases-loaded double that scored two runs in the fourth, and then Starlin Castro hit a three-run home run to extend the lead in the sixth.
Pittsburgh needs to find a way to get out of this current rut, or else they will miss out on the playoffs yet again.
Pirates: 72-71 (third in NL Central, fourth in wild card)
Cubs: 57-87 (fifth in NL Central, 15th in wild card)
On Deck for Saturday
Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics, 9:05 p.m. ET
Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees, 4:05 p.m. ET
Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, 1:10 p.m. ET
Detroit Tigers vs. Cleveland Indians, 4:05 p.m. ET
Seattle Mariners vs. Texas Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Angels vs. Kansas City Royals, 7:10 p.m. ET
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves, 4:05 p.m. ET
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, 9:10 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs, 1: 05 p.m. ET
New York Mets vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 7:10 p.m. ET
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