WASHINGTON (AP) — Christian Vázquez tripled house the tiebreaking run within the ninth inning and the Boston Crimson Sox moved to the brink of a postseason berth with a 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Boston is tied with the Yankees for the highest AL wild card coming into the ultimate day of the common season. The Crimson Sox will ship ace Chris Sale to the mound Sunday needing a victory to punch a playoff ticket. In the event that they win, they will host Tuesday’s wild-card sport no matter New York’s consequence as a result of Boston received the season sequence 10-9.
“We know what that means if we win,” Boston supervisor Alex Cora mentioned.
If the Crimson Sox lose Sunday, they’ll nonetheless be assured entry right into a tiebreaker sport Monday. The Crimson Sox are a sport forward of Toronto and 1 1/2 away from Seattle, with the Mariners set to play the Angels on Saturday evening.
“Total team effort,” Cora mentioned. “It wasn’t easy. … It hasn’t been easy all season.”
Tanner Houck pitched five perfect innings, striking out eight, but Washington tied it at 1 in the eighth inning on Juan Soto’s long, bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center off Austin Davis (1-2).
J.D. Martinez led off the ninth with a walk for Boston, and Vázquez drilled a ball to right off closer Tanner Rainey (1-3) that easily scored pinch-runner José Iglesias for a 2-1 lead with two outs. Travis Shaw singled to drive in Vázquez, then Kiké Hernández homered into the Boston bullpen against Mason Thompson to push the lead to 5-1.
Washington’s Andrew Stevenson hit a two-run homer in the ninth before Hansel Robles finished the game for his 14th save.
The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the eighth after center fielder Hunter Renfroe lost a fly ball in the twilight, leading to a double, and Adam Ottavino walked two. Soto hit a soaring ball to deep center to tie it, but Josh Bell followed with a soft lineout to end the threat.
Soto said he thought Davis was “lucky” the ball was an out instead of a grand slam. Soto also said Davis was “talking trash” throughout the at-bat.
Rafael Devers’ thirty sixth homer of the season put Boston in entrance 1-0 within the fourth. Devers struck out towards Rainey with the bases loaded and two out within the eighth.
Houck zipped by the Nationals’ lineup, needing simply 53 pitches to strike out eight among the many 15 consecutive outs he recorded. Washington hit one ball out of the infield earlier than Houck was lifted for pinch-hitter Christian Arroyo within the sixth.
Houck, a 25-year-old rookie, twice threw 90 pitches amongst his 13 begins this season. Each got here in late August. He had not thrown greater than 42 pitches in his final three appearances, all of which have been in reduction.
Earlier than the sport, Cora mentioned there have been no limitations on Houck, who pitched 5 innings thrice earlier this season. He pitched into the sixth as soon as, on Aug. 29.
“Didn’t struggle at all,” Cora mentioned of the choice to take away Houck. “(Saturday) actually the plan was to see where Soto was and see where we went. He did an amazing job.”
“I’d much rather this team get a win and continue to go forward,” Houck mentioned of the choice.
Gerardo Parra’s pinch-hit single within the sixth towards Garrett Richards produced the Nationals’ first baserunner. Washington loaded the bases with two out within the seventh towards Ryan Brasier, who was pitching for the fourth consecutive day, earlier than Jordy Mercer struck out seeking to finish the menace. Mercer was ejected for arguing plate umpire Phil Cuzzi’s name.
Washington starter Josiah Grey pitched six innings, struck out seven and allowed a run.
NATS PITCHING COACH TO RETURN
Nationals supervisor Davey Martinez mentioned Saturday pitching coach Jim Hickey, who Washington employed within the 2020 offseason, will return for the 2022 season. Hickey and Martinez had a earlier relationship from working collectively in Tampa Bay from 2008-2014. The Nationals entered play on Saturday twenty fourth in workforce ERA.
Nationals: P Josh Rogers (hamstring pressure) was positioned on the 10-day injured checklist Saturday. OF Parra (knee) was activated to take Rogers’ spot.
Crimson Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock (proper pectoral pressure) was not activated Saturday after throwing a bullpen session Friday. Whitlock could also be activated Sunday relying on how he recovers, based on Cora.
Sale (5-1, 2.90 ERA) will make his ninth begin of the season within the finale after lacking many of the 12 months following Tommy John surgical procedure. RHP Joan Adon will likely be referred to as up by Washington to make his main league debut after spending many of the season at Excessive-A Wilmington.
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