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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros lock up best record in the AL

Blue Jays blast Boston; Castillo twirls gem against Athletics; Guardians stumble against Royals; Astros outlast Rays

Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Aaron Judge may still be stuck on 61, but Nestor Cortes and the Yankees batting order put up dominant displays in the 8-0 rout of the Orioles at the Stadium. The AL playoff picture is set as all of the teams featured below have already punched their tickets to the postseason. However, seeding is still up for grabs, and several of the results yesterday caused movement in the standings.

Boston Red Sox 0 (75-83) vs. Toronto Blue Jays 10 (89-69)

The Blue Jays bats busted out in a big way against Boston, dropping 19 runs across the last two games vs. the Red Sox. They scored a pair in the second in third innings on ten hits against rookie Red Sox starter Brayan Bello. The Boston bullpen didn’t fare much better, surrendering three in the fifth and another three in the eighth to make this a truly humiliating rout.

Ross Stripling continued his improbable extended cameo as an effective if not dominant starter this year, going six scoreless allowing just four hits to lower his season ERA to 3.01. On the offensive side, George Springer went 3-for-4, Bo Bichette 4-for-4, Teoscar Hernández 4-for-5 with a home run and two doubles, and Danny Jansen 3-for-4 with five runs driven in. With the win, the Blue Jays maintain their hold on the first Wild Card spot.

Oakland Athletics 1 (56-102) vs. Seattle Mariners 5 (87-70)

Luis Castillo was brilliant after logging a pair of duds for the Mariners, limiting the A’s to one run on just two hits against eight strikeouts in six innings. The Seattle offense got off to a flying start, putting up three runs in the first off Oakland opener Adam Oller. Old friend JP Sears followed Oller as the bulk guy and ended up matching Castillo stride for stride, pitching six scoreless allowing just a pair of hits against six strikeouts.

The Seattle bullpen combined for three hitless innings to follow Castillo, with the only run of the game coming in the first on a Jordan Díaz RBI single. Following the pattern of the primacy and recency effects, the Mariners offense would not follow up their first inning outburst until their final turn at bat in the eighth, scoring a pair to close out the 5-1 victory. With the win and the Rays’ loss, the Mariners extend their hold on the second Wild Card spot to 1.5 games.

Kansas City Royals 7 (64-94) vs. Cleveland Guardians 1 (89-69)

The Guardians are one of the AL playoff teams that doesn’t have anything to play for in these final weeks, and it showed against the Royals. José Ramírez got the night off while the rest of the team looked flat at the plate and in the field. Salvador Perez opened the scoring in the third on an RBI single and added a leadoff home run in the seventh as part of a 4-for-4 night.

Kansas City starter Kris Bubic went five scoreless striking out eight while Zach Plesac had a far less enjoyable day on the mound. All three Kansas City runs in the fourth were unearned after an error by Gabriel Arias started a rally, though everything in the inning was legitimate to follow including a string of three straight doubles. The Royals scored a run each in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings as they cruised to an easy 7-1 victory.

Tampa Bay Rays (86-72) vs. Houston Astros (103-55)

Viewers of this game were treated to a battle of two starting pitchers who figure to be in the Cy Young conversation for years to come. Shane McClanahan went five innings allowing two runs, but was out-dueled by Cristian Javier and his six scoreless with seven strikeouts. The Astros scored both their runs in the third with Jeremy Peña driving in Jake Meyers with a single and Jose Altuve scoring on a wild pitch. The Rays were on the brink of being shutout until Yandy Díaz drove in Randy Arozarena on a single in the ninth to bring us to our final score, 2-1.

There was still a chance prior to this game that the Yankees could grab the best record in the AL — which would have necessitated New York winning out and Houston losing out — however this victory guarantees that the Astros clinch the best record in the American League, giving them a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the ALCS should they advance that far.