Rays and Indians both win to maintain their respective leads in the AL Wild Card race

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The Rays defeated the Orioles 3-1 this afternoon behind a strong start from Enny Romero in his Major League debut. The left-hander, who spent most of the season with Double-A Montgomery, shut out the O’s in four and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit while walking four and failing to record a strikeout. The Rays scored in the first on a David DeJesus solo home run and tacked on two more in the sixth. Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth but was able to record his 36th save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Indians had an easy time against the Astros. After falling behind 2-0 in the fourth, the Indians put up a three-spot against Astros starter Erik Bedard. They added a four more in the sixth, three of which were charged to Bedard, who couldn’t record an out in the inning. Corey Kluber had a strong start, allowing just the two runs in five and one-third innings of work. Seven Indians relievers combined for three and two-thirds shutout innings behind Kluber.

The 86-69 Rays maintain a half-game lead over the Indians for the first AL Wild Card spot. The 86-70 Indians saw their lead over the Rangers grow to 1.5 games as Justin Maxwell hit a walk-off grand slam against Rangers reliever Joakim Soria.

The Rays will wrap up their series with the Orioles tomorrow afternoon before going on the road to finish the season against the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Indians will play the White Sox twice at home, then travel to Minnesota for four games before the end of the season.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.