Wild Card Watch: Key matchups and storylines for AL contenders – Sportsnet.ca

The race for the two wild-card spots in the American League heats up on Tuesday night with five contenders in action at four sites.

The Boston Red Sox hold the first wild-card spot, 1.5 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays, who are just a half-game up on the New York Yankees for the second and final berth.

The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners also are in the mix, trailing the Blue Jays by two and three games, respectively.

Here is a look at the four games that affect the race on Tuesday:

Texas Rangers (55-95) at New York Yankees (84-67), 7:05 p.m. ET

The pitching matchup is favourable for the Yankees.

New York left-hander Jordan Montgomery (5-6, 3.63 ERA) is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in his past seven starts.

Texas righty Dane Dunning (5-8, 4.28 ERA) makes his first start since Aug. 20.

New York won the series opener 4-3 on Monday night.

Toronto Blue Jays (84-66) at Tampa Bay Rays (93-58), 7:10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet, SN Now

The Blue Jays hope rookie right-hander Alek Manoah can pick up where he left off.

Manoah allowed no runs and just one hit while striking out 10 in eight innings as Toronto beat visiting Tampa 8-1 in his last start on Sept. 13.

The Jays opted to give Manoah (6-2, 3.39 ERA) extra rest after that start.

Tampa counters with righty Drew Rasmussen (3-1, 3.00 ERA).

Rasmussen was sharp at Rogers Centre in his last start on Sept. 14, pitching five scoreless innings while giving up just two hits in a 2-0 Tampa victory.

New York Mets (73-77) at Boston Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET

Former Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman (9-12, 2.88 ERA), New York’s starter, can help out his old team with a strong performance at Fenway Park in the opener of a two-game mini series.

Stroman has picked up no-decisions in his past four starts.

The Mets have tumbled out of NL playoff contention after going 3-7 in their last 10 games.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (11-8, 5.00 ERA) starts for the surging Red Sox, who have won five in a row.

After the Mets’ visit, the Red Sox host the Yankees in a three-game series.

Seattle Mariners (81-69) at Oakland A’s (82-68), 9:40 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One, SN Now

The Mariners beat the A’s 4-2 on Monday in the opener of a critical four-game series.

Mariners starter Marco Gonzales (8-5, 4.05 ERA) is 5-0 with a 2.84 ERA over his past seven starts.

A’s starter Paul Blackburn (1-2, 4.94 ERA) was promoted from triple-A Las Vegas last month.

The same teams meet again for three games next week in Seattle.

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