MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Indians moved into the AL wild-card lead on the next-to-last scheduled day of the regular season, beating the Minnesota Twins 5-1 Saturday behind Scott Kazmir’s strong start to extend their winning streak to nine.
Seeking their first postseason appearance since 2007, the Indians (91-70) took a one-game lead over Tampa Bay and Texas (both 90-71), who both lost Saturday.
Cleveland is assured of at least a tie for the AL wild card. With three teams seeking the two wild cards, Sunday’s results could decide the matter or lead to one or two tiebreaker games at the start of next week.
Blue Jays 7, Rays 2
TORONTO — The Tampa Bay Rays dropped into a tie with Texas for the second AL wild-card berth, losing to Toronto as Ryan Goins and Kevin Pillar hit two-run home runs for the Blue Jays and J.A. Happ won for the first time in four starts.
The Rays (90-71) lost their second straight following a seven-game winning streak and dropped a half-game behind Cleveland (90-70), which was playing at Minnesota. The regular season is slated to end Sunday.
Adam Lind had two hits and three RBIs and Brett Lawrie reached base four times as the Blue Jays continued to make life tough for the Rays, who start left-hander Matt Moore (16-4) in Sunday’s series finale against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Todd Redmond (4-2).
Rangers 7, Angels 4
ARLINGTON, Texas — Craig Gentry doubled, scored and bunted in a run, helping the Texas Rangers beat the sloppy Los Angeles Angels and reach the final day of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
Texas (90-71) won its sixth straight — and second in less than 24 hours. Cleveland and Tampa Bay started the day tied for the two AL wild-card spots at 90-70, a game ahead of the Rangers.
The Rangers were down three batters in, but the Angels made five errors for a game for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, also at Texas.
Mariners 7, Athletics 5
SEATTLE — Brad Miller hit a pair of home runs, including his first grand slam, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics in a game that decided division-series matchups in the American League.
Boston clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason with Oakland’s loss. The AL West champion A’s will play their playoff opener at home next Friday against AL Central champion Detroit, and AL East winner Boston will start at Fenway Park against the team emerging from the wild-card playoff: Cleveland Tampa Bay or Texas.
Brandon Maurer (5-8) gave up two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He had been 0-1 in three starts and three relief appearances since beating the A’s on Aug. 20.
Rivera done, A-Rod just starting
HOUSTON — Mariano Rivera says he won’t pitch again before retiring on Sunday.
When asked if he’d pitch in either of the two games the New York Yankees have remaining against the Houston Astros, the 43-year-old closer said: “I’m done guys, I’m done.”
Rivera last pitched on Thursday night in the season finale at Yankee Stadium. He made a tearful exit to a standing ovation when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came from the dugout to remove him with two outs in the ninth inning of a loss to Tampa Bay.
Rivera had expressed interest in playing center field earlier this week. But on Saturday he had a change of heart, saying that he didn’t think his knee was up to it.
And Alex Rodriguez says dealing with his 211-game suspension stemming from baseball’s Biogenesis drug investigation has been a “big burden” and adds he’s ready to face it “head on” when the arbitration hearing on his grievancel begins Monday.
Rodriguez is with the New York Yankees in Houston this weekend, though he doesn’t expect to play again this season because of soreness in his legs.
He says he’s excited to get the hearing started and that he plans to be there every day because: “I’m fighting for my life and my whole legacy.”
Rodriguez was suspended by MLB the day he returned from hip surgery on Aug. 5.
The 38-year-old is hitting .244 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in 44 games this season and is six homers shy of tying Willie Mays’ 660 for fourth place.