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Long live the fun differential. The Seattle Mariners swept a crucial four-game series against the Oakland Athletics, with a 6-5 win on Thursday afternoon; the Mariners have now won five straight games. Starter Yusei Kikuchi worked a rough three innings, yielding three runs, and walking four. The Mariners were faced with a three run deficit in the fourth inning, but Abraham Toro helped get the party started with an RBI double that plated Kyle Seager, Cal Raleigh, Mitch Haniger, and Luis Torrens subsequently went deep to bring the Mariners to a thrilling bounce-back victory. After strong relief performances from Joe Smith, Casey Sadler, and Diego Castillo, Paul Sewald locked in his 10th save of the year.

The Mariners have managed to stay afloat in a rather torrential American League Wild Card race, with an 84-69 record and curiously, a -53 run differential. Seattle is now two games back of the Toronto Blue Jays (who have a +166 run differential) for the second Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs marks the Mariners at having a 5.4% chance of being bestowed a Wild Card berth – but in baseball, anything can happen. Seattle has now won nine straight games against Oakland — and 12 of 15 played in 2021, with a culminating three-game series remaining next week at T-Mobile Park.

As for the upcoming three-game series versus the Angels which begins Friday, Logan Gilbert will get the start. The Mariners will fish for six straight wins, with nine games left to play in the regular season.

Pitchers with an EDGE

Zac Lowther vs. Rangers

5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 32% CSW

A shutout performance from Lowther helped the Orioles to a 3-0 victory. He threw 94 pitches, 58 of them for strikes, including 14 swings-and-misses.

Patrick Corbin vs. Reds

6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K, 29% CSW

Though his command faltered at times, Corbin excelled at run prevention, taking a shutout into the seventh inning. The slider looked crisp, luring 14 whiffs, contributing to a strong 37% CSW on that pitch.

Adrian Houser vs. Cardinals

6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 27% CSW

Houser departed this start with a four-run lead, but that wasn’t enough to secure him a win. He picked up the no-decision despite a solid performance where he yielded one run in six innings.

Hitters with an EDGE

Cal Raleigh vs. Athletics

2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

The surging Mariners completed a sweep of the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, keeping their playoff hopes alive and well. Seattle’s lineup contributed well all around in this 6-5 victory, but some bottom-of-the-order heroics from Raleigh in particular helped, including the 24-year-old’s second home run of the year.

J.T. Realmuto vs. Pirates

3-for-3, 3 R, 4 RBI

The catcher hit a two run homer — his 16th of the year, in the seventh inning. He also hit an RBI single in the eighth inning to bring the Phillies to an eventual 12-6 walloping of the Pirates.

Tim Anderson vs. Cleveland

3-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI

The all-star shortstop went deep twice in the matinee of Thursday’s doubleheader: a leadoff homer in the first inning, and a three-run shot in the second inning to contribute to a 7-2 win over Cleveland – and a clinch of the American League Central. The White Sox are the first team in either league to clinch their respective division.

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Closing Time

Tyler Wells vs. Rangers

1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (4th save)

The 27-year-old right hander threw a scoreless ninth to secure the shutout victory for the Orioles. The rookie has converted four out of seven possible save opportunities.

Ralph Garza, Jr. vs. Blue Jays

1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K (1st save)

The 27-year-old earned his first save in a Twins uniform, entering in the eighth inning and pitching a hitless ninth.

Kyle Finnegan vs. Reds

1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K (11th save)

A tense ninth inning including a single and a triple, followed by a groundout allowed two runs to cross the plate, but Finnegan was able to lock things down and work out of the jam, for his 11th save of the year.

J.B. Wendelken vs. Braves

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (2nd save)

Usual Diamondbacks closer Tyler Clippard was unavailable as he threw 22 pitches last night, so Wendelken was used for this save situation.

Paul Sewald vs. Athletics

1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (10th save)

Sewald’s only mistake was allowing a two-out homer to Matt Olson, but he was able to slam the door on the A’s by forcing Jed Lowrie to pop up for the final out. He’s now converted 10 out of 14 save opportunities.

Blake Treinen vs. Rockies

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K (6th save)

Treinen pitched the 10th inning; Kenley Jansen was used in the ninth with the score tied, and was granted the win.

Giovanny Gallegos vs. Brewers

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (12th save)

Gallegos pitched a perfect ninth for the red-hot Cardinals. He’s picked up nine saves this month, including seven during the 12-game win streak.

Priority Pickup

LaMonte Wade, Jr. – 1B/OF, San Francisco Giants – Available in 85% of Yahoo Leagues

The Giants face the Rockies in a three-game series this upcoming weekend, and Wade should benefit greatly from that; this year, he has a 1.045 OPS over 11 plate appearances at Coors Field. The 27-year-old has had a successful season, with an .858 OPS including 18 home runs and six stolen bases in 347 plate appearances over 99 games. Interestingly enough, he carries a .922 OPS versus right handed pitching. The Rockies will feature three right-handed starters in their series with the Giants, so picking up Wade should yield some great dividends.

Friday’s Matchup of the Day

Dylan Cease (12-7, 4.09 ERA, 212 K, 1.26 WHIP) vs. Shane Bieber (7-4, 3.28 ERA, 130 K, 1.25 WHIP)

The White Sox may be riding a post-clinch hangover after securing the AL Central title in Cleveland on Thursday, but the regular season isn’t quite over yet. Dylan Cease takes the mound tomorrow for Chicago, and had a nice bounce-back outing in his last start versus the Rangers, where he tossed five scoreless innings, and entered double-digit strikeout totals for the eighth time this year. Opposite Cease is Shane Bieber, who returns to the Cleveland rotation for the first time tomorrow since being sidelined with a shoulder injury in June. The former AL Cy Young Award winner has a 3.28 ERA and 130/33 K/BB ratio through 90 2/3 innings (14 starts).

American League Quick Hits

Yordan Alvarez made an early exit from Wednesday’s game against the Angels due to general soreness. … White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Carlos Rodon (arm) is on track to start next Wednesday against the Reds. … White Sox activated OF Andrew Vaughn off the 10-day injured list. … Yordan Alvarez (soreness) is out of the lineup Thursday against the Angels. … Thomas Hatch was removed from Thursday’s game against the Twins with right hamstring discomfort.

National League Quick Hits

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Chris Taylor (neck) is probably unavailable again on Thursday. … Reds manager David Bell said Tyler Naquin (ribs) is likely done for the remainder of the regular season. … Giants placed 1B/OF Darin Ruf on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 20, with a right oblique strain. … Phillies placed LHP Matt Moore on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. … Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters that Devin Williams has not been available due to a calf injury.

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