Despite a valiant effort at a comeback this afternoon, the Athletics lost to the Mariners 7-5. The loss drops them to 95-66 and, with one game remaining, locks up home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the 97-63 Red Sox. The Sox will play the winner of the one-game AL Wild Card playoff, be it the Indians, Rays, or Rangers.
Mariners shortstop Brad Miller provided most of the offense, hitting a solo home run in the third inning and a grand slam in the fifth off of A’s starter Jarrod Parker. Trailing 7-2 in the seventh, the Athletics scored three runs on a two-run home run from Brandon Moss and a solo shot from Albert Callaspo, both against Mariners reliever Chance Ruffin. But the rally stopped there and the Mariners held on.
Had the Athletics been able to win today, the Red Sox would have been relying on Jon Lester to pitch them past the Orioles tonight to that clinch home-field advantage.
The Tigers and Athletics will match up in the ALDS, which starts on Friday.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.