Carlos Santana’s homer rallies Mariners for 4-3 win over Yankees

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SEATTLE — Carlos Santana snapped an 0-for-17 slump with a go-ahead two-run homer during Seattle’s three-run seventh inning, and the Mariners rallied to beat the slumping New York Yankees 4-3 on Wednesday.

Aaron Judge hit his major league-leading 45th homer of the season for the Yankees, who have lost eight of 10.

Thanks to two tense, one-run victories, Seattle took two of three from New York for the second straight week to win the season series 4-2. The Mariners won 1-0 in 13 innings on Tuesday night. With the Yankees leading the AL East and Seattle in the first AL wild-card spot, the teams could meet again in the playoffs.

Seattle has not lost a series to a team other than AL West-leading Houston since mid-June, when it dropped four of five to the Los Angeles Angels.

Kyle Higashioka hit a go-ahead, two-run homer on the 115th and final pitch from Seattle starter Robbie Ray in the seventh to snap a 19-inning scoreless streak for the Yankees, and Judge’s longball against Penn Murfee (3-0) made it 3-1 later in the frame.

Murfee then retired D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo, Diego Castillo pitched a perfect eighth, and Paul Sewald worked the ninth for his 15th save.

Ray and New York starter Nestor Cortes were both terrific, following standout performances Tuesday night from the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Mariners’ Luis Castillo.

Cortes struck out 10 and didn’t allow a hit until Sam Haggerty homered off the left-field foul pole with one out in the sixth. He was lifted after giving up consecutive singles to Ty France and Mitch Haniger to open the seventh. Haniger’s hit scored France to make it 3-2.

Albert Abreu (2-2) struck out Eugenio Suarez but left a changeup in the middle of the plate and Santana didn’t miss, hitting his seventh home run since being acquired by Seattle in June.

Ray allowed three hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven but walked a season-high five.

ROSTER SHUFFLE

Seattle optioned OF/DH Kyle Lewis and LHP Brandon Bernardino to Triple-A Tacoma to clear roster spots for the return of Diego Castillo and utilityman Dylan Moore.

Lewis, the 2020 AL rookie of the year, struggled badly at the plate after returning from a concussion. Lewis was hitting .098 with 18 strikeouts in his previous 46 plate appearances.

“Kyle’s tool is the bat and it has been a struggle since he came back up here. Recently, the strikeout has crept in. I do think there’s a role for him on our club. But you need to be productive,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Seattle is also moving RHP Chris Flexen to the bullpen. The Mariners picked up a sixth starter when they acquired Luis Castillo at the trade deadline. Servais said Flexen may come back into the rotation later in the season as Seattle monitors the innings of rookie George Kirby.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Rizzo returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with lower back issues.

Mariners: Seattle remains hopeful CF Julio Rodriguez (wrist) will be activated off the injured list before Friday’s series opener in Texas. … SS J.P. Crawford was given the day off.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Domingo German (1-2, 5.09 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series at Boston on Friday.

Mariners: Seattle has not announced its rotation for the series at Texas that begins Friday.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.