LEADING OFF: Yanks, Sox, Jays and Mariners in tight WC chase

Sports

New York Yankees’ Brett Gardner reacts after hitting an an RBI-single in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

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LET’S GET WILD

Four teams are separated by two games in the AL wild-card chase, with the Yankees clinging to a one-game lead for the top spot with two games remaining.

New York will face Tampa Bay rookie Shane Baz (2-0, 1.69) in his third big league start. The 22-year-old struck out nine Miami batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his previous outing, sparking speculation he could crack the Rays postseason rotation even though he didn’t debut in the majors until Sept. 20.

Boston is a game behind the Yankees with two games left against last-place Washington, while Toronto and Seattle are two games back. The Blue Jays have two games remaining versus lowly Baltimore, and the Mariners are closing things out against the Angels.

BAYSIDE BASH?

The Giants can lock up an unexpected NL West title with a win over San Diego or a Dodgers loss to Milwaukee. San Francisco ensured itself at least a tie for the division crown and matched a franchise record with its 106th win Friday against the Padres, but Los Angeles spoiled its hopes to celebrate an outright clinch by rallying to beat the Brewers.

Kevin Gausman (14-6, 2.87) will start for the Giants against San Diego’s Joe Musgrove (11-9, 3.22) in the afternoon, with the Dodgers hosting Milwaukee on Saturday night.

DODGER DOWN

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw isn’t sure if he’ll be able to pitch in the postseason after leaving his start Friday with left forearm discomfort. The left-hander didn’t pitch from July 4 to Sept. 12 while on the injured list with left forearm inflammation and acknowledged after Friday’s game that “it’s not looking great for October right now.”

Kershaw is 10-8 with a 3.38 ERA, his highest mark since a 4.26 ERA as a rookie in 2008.

The good news for Los Angeles is that its rotation is deep, and left-hander Julio Urías has a chance to become the majors’ only 20-game winner this season in a showdown against NL Cy Young Award contender Corbin Burnes of the Brewers.

Urías (19-3, 3.01) hasn’t lost since June 21, and Los Angeles has won each of his past 10 outings dating to Aug. 1. He’s 7-0 with a 1.81 ERA in that span.

Burnes (11-4, 2.29) leads the majors in ERA and has been in a tight race for the top pitching prize with Dodgers ace Max Scherzer and Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler. Urías might pick up some consideration with old-school minded voters with win No. 20.

STAT WATCH

Several individual stat races are coming down to the wire, including an NL batting crown that’s likely to go either to Dodgers infielder Trea Turner or his former Washington teammate Juan Soto. Turner is hitting .327, just ahead of Soto’s .317. They were both Nationals until Turner and Max Scherzer were dealt to LA in July.

Kansas City’s Salvador Perez is trying to close out the major league home run title. He leads with 48, two ahead of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and three clear of Shohei Ohtani. Perez also has the most RBIs with 121 and is vying to become the first primary backstop to lead a league in RBIs since Philadelphia’s Darren Daulton took the NL crown with 109 in 1992.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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