Yankees vs. Rays score: Yanks lose, fail to clinch playoff spot; Red Sox, Jays, Mariners still on their heels

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We're down to the nitty gritty here with only Saturday and Sunday action remaining in the regular season -- unless a one-game playoff is needed on Monday, which is definitely possible -- and the American League wild-card race is going down to the wire. Four teams are involved in the jockeying for the two spots. All four, obviously, were in action Friday, though unfortunately none of them played head-to-head. 

The top dog here would be the Yankees, who came into Friday's action with a two-game lead over both the Mariners and Red Sox for the top spot. 

The Yankees lost what was once a pitchers duel to the Rays, 4-3. 

Offense was hard to come by in this one until the ninth. Nelson Cruz got the Rays on the board in the first inning with a solo shot. 

That's number 32 on the year for the seemingly ageless 41 year-old-slugger. 

The Yankees would strike right back in the bottom of the first. Gleyber Torres led off with a double and later was plated on a Giancarlo Stanton single.

Rays starter Shane McClanahan went three innings before the Rays' deep bullpen got the game to the ninth with a 2-1 advantage.

The Rays got runners to second and third with two outs in the top of the ninth and rookie wunderkind Wander Franco banged one right back up the middle to score two runs and provide some breathing room for the Rays. 

As it turns out, they'd need it. The Yankees got a double from Giancarlo Stanton, who then took third due to a drastic shift against Joey Gallo. Gallo would also take advantage, sending a bunt single down the third-base line. Gio Urshela and Brett Gardner followed with singles and it was 4-3. Rays All-Star reliever Andrew Kittredge would escape, however. 

With the loss, the Yankees can't clinch a playoff berth just yet, nor can anyone else in this group. 

Key AL wild-card games, scores

Rays 4, Yankees 1 (box score)
Red Sox 4, Nationals 2 (box score)
Blue Jays 6, Orioles 4 (box score)
Angels 2, Mariners 1 (box score)

AL wild-card standings

1. Yankees: 91-69 (+1 G)
2. Red Sox: 90-70 --
3. Mariners: 89-71 (1 GB)
4. Blue Jays: 89-71 (1 GB)

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@Mariners via Twitter
October 2, 2021, 4:25 AM
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@Mariners via Twitter
October 2, 2021, 2:48 AM
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@Yankees via Twitter
October 2, 2021, 2:34 AM
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another single and it's 4-3 Rays. Runners on first and second. One out. Here comes Gary Sanchez as a pinch hitter

October 2, 2021, 2:29 AM
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Brett Gardner to the plate and he's 4-8 career against Kittredge 

October 2, 2021, 2:27 AM
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Tyler Wade pinch runs at first as the tying run. There's only one out. 

October 2, 2021, 2:25 AM
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and now Urshela with a hit and the Yankees bring the winning run to the plate. Hoooo boy

October 2, 2021, 2:25 AM
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Gallo bunts against the shift and he's on. Now the tying run comes to the plate. Drama! 

October 2, 2021, 2:24 AM
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Giancarlo Stanton hit one toward the left-center gap and he was about to stop at first for a second, but Brett Phillips for some reason threw one that ended up almost all the way to first base and was so high no one could cut it, so Stanton is at second. I assume single and error. Now Stanton takes third with Joey Gallo up against an extreme shift

October 2, 2021, 2:23 AM
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and Franco singles up the middle, scoring two runs. What a big blow by the rookie. It's now 4-1 Rays and seems incredibly unlikely the Yankees can pull this one off, which means no clinch. 

October 2, 2021, 2:15 AM
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fielder's choice puts runners at the corners with two out for Wander Franco. The grounder was to Rizzo at first base, so Abreu had to cover first base and he made an excellent scoop to save the runner now on third from scoring to make it 3-1 Rays

October 2, 2021, 2:10 AM
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interesting that Aroldis Chapman was warmed up and Boone went to Abreu anyway. This isn't necessarily a must-win game, but a loss means the Red Sox are back within a game of them and the Blue Jays are only two behind. The Mariners with a win would also be one back

October 2, 2021, 2:07 AM
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two runners on with one out and Boone is removing German in favor of rookie Albert Abreu

October 2, 2021, 2:06 AM
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The Red Sox are probably fine with a 4-1 lead late. The Blue Jays had a 6-0 lead, but the Orioles trimmed it to 6-4 in the eighth

October 2, 2021, 1:48 AM
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