SPORTS

Playoff contenders chase: Indians, Mariners win

09/27/2014 02:06 EDT | Updated 11/26/2014 05:59 EST
The Cleveland Indians sent their ace Corey Kluber to the mound Friday in their bid to stay alive in the hunt to play beyond baseball's regular season.

Meanwhile the Seattle Mariners, back home after dropping three of four games in Toronto, turned to their second best starter Hisashi Iwakuma as they hosted the Los Angeles Angels. Like the Indians, the Mariners needed to capture their final three games all the while hoping and praying that the Oakland A's would continue their September swoon and fail to win any other their final three games.

It was win or go home for the Indians who returned to the playoffs last season under manager Terry Francona and for the Mariners who haven't visited the post-season since 2001 when they lost the American League Championship series to the New York Yankees in five games.

- CLINCHED DIVISION: Orioles, Angels, Nationals, Dodgers

- IN PLAYOFFS: Tigers, Cardinals, Pirates, Giants, Royals

- WILD CARD HOLDERS: A's

- STILL ALIVE: Seattle

Corey Kluber more than lived up to his end of the bargain. Through eight scoreless innings the powerful right-hander shut down the Tampa Bay Rays. He ended the eighth inning with his 11th strikeout of the game, helping the Indians to break the Major League record for strikeouts in a season, 1,429. It was one better than the mark established by the Detroit Tigers just last year. Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save as Jose Ramirez's first-inning homer provided the only run of the game.

However Cleveland's reprieve was short-lived as first Kansas City clinched at least a wild card spot with a 3-1 victory over the White Sox in Chicago. Jeremy Guthrie tossed seven scoreless innings to pace the triumph. It meant that the Royals were headed to post-season play -- they still have a chance to catch Detroit for the Central Division title -- for the first time since 1985, the longest drought in North American major sports. Then Oakland, occupying the second wild card, spot ended the Indians' final hopes. They, too, rolled to victory, 6-2 in Texas as Scott Kazmir picked up his 15th win of the season and Josh Reddick had three RBI. Cleveland was out.

Last team still standing outside the playoff circle was the Seattle Mariners. The Oakland win cut their tragic number to 1.

A Mariner loss or one more A's win would finally reduce the American League playoff field to five.

After opening a 4-0 lead over the Angels, Seattle hung on. Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth but closed out a 4-3 win. The tragic number was still one.

Another day off the calendar and another contender -- this time Cleveland -- eliminated. 

Now only Seattle has a chance to join the post-season party. Two games to go. No room for error. An exciting way to wrap up the regular season after game number 160.

PLAYOFF SCENARIO: This we know for sure.

- Washington and the Los Angeles Angels have wrapped up home field advantage for the National and American League, respectively.

- Those two teams, the National and the Angels, will meet the winner of the game between the two wild card teams in their league.

- Baltimore will host the AL Central Division winner, still to be determined.

- The Los Angeles Dodgers will meet the NL Central Division winner, still to be determined. 

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