As much as we’d like to get right back into Mariners baseball after a thrilling series win in New York, they, like all of us, need their rest - today is a much-needed off day before kicking off a four-game set with the Mike Trout-less Angels. Thankfully, the rest of the league has not stopped. As it stands, while the Blue Jays have a two-game lead on the first wild card spot, the Mariners hold WC2 by one game over the Rays. The Guardians, Orioles, White Sox, and Red Sox are all within three games of that final slot, and with all six of those teams going tonight, there’s plenty to keep an eye on across five games this fine Thursday evening.
Astros at Guardians, 4:10pm PDT
Justin Verlander is going for Houston tonight, while once-speculative trade target Zach Plesac is taking the hill for Cleveland. The Guardians are the closest of all the teams on the outside looking in, at just a game behind Tampa Bay. Facing the ageless wonder, though, it’ll be a tall task for them to gain ground tonight, and it’s unfortunately in Seattle’s best interest for that to happen. Go (gags) Astros.
Rays at Tigers, 4:10pm PDT
Lefty Jeffrey Springs is starting for the Rays, and the Tigers are countering with veteran right-hander Drew Hutchison. Neither team has been great in their last ten games, but Detroit has hit lefties well all season. Hopefully that comes to pass once again tonight. Go Tigers.
Blue Jays at Twins, 4:40pm PDT
In what looks like the most exciting pitching matchup of this slate, Toronto’s Alek Manoah will face off against Minnesota’s Sonny Gray. The Jays’ offense has been on fire lately - even if you take out the hilarious 28 runs they put up on Boston on the 22nd, they’ve averaged just a hair under five runs per game over their last ten. Add in their ace going tonight, and the first-place Twins will certainly have their hands full. Sonny Gray is no slouch, though, and if Minnesota can get to Manoah early, they’ll have a fighting chance. Go Twins.
White Sox at Rangers, 5:10pm PDT
In just about the most lopsided pairing in terms of experience, fifteen-year veteran Johnny Cueto and the White Sox are facing the Rangers’ Cole Ragans, who is making his big league debut. It’s been a grind for Ragans since being drafted out of high school in 2016 - he’s endured two Tommy John surgeries and missed three minor league seasons. He did put up strong numbers in the nuclear offensive environment of the PCL, and with no real book on him, he could fool Chicago tonight. And besides, who doesn’t love the story of a good debut? Go Rangers.
Red Sox at Royals, 5:10pm PDT
The reeling Red Sox are sending out veteran righty Nick Pivetta against the Royals’ lefty Kris Bubic. Although Kansas City sold at the deadline and has been clearly out of the playoff picture for a while, Pivetta had a very rough July, allowing four runs or more in all but one of five starts. If he stumbles out of the gate again tonight, KC might be able to steal a game and drop Boston below .500 once again, and how sweet would that be? Go Royals.