It’s never too early to scoreboard watch, and this year in particular has a lot of teams vying for a select number of playoff spots. If the Yankees want to be holding one of them by the end of the year, they’ll have to outpace teams from across the league, so why not follow along and get a glimpse of how the competition is doing? With that in mind and May underway, we’ll be giving you a quick recap of how the contending teams did the previous night here at Pinstripe Alley so that you know where the good guys stand in comparison.
The AL East is loaded with talent, and most of it will be getting featured here — the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox will all start off getting mentions here. Sorry Orioles, but for now, you’ll only see the spotlight when one of these teams are playing you. As for the other divisions, since it’s early, we’ll only be looking out for the top team in each location, but as the season progresses we may throw in another contender or two. Also, since we’re going off of FanGraph’s playoff odds for who is most favored to win their division, we’ll be featuring the Astros for now and not the Angels — but perhaps if their hot start is sustained, they can claim their spot here!
Now that we’ve set the parameters, let’s get into this:
Toronto Blue Jays (14-8) vs. Houston Astros (11-10)
The biggest threat from within the division took on the main threat from the west on Saturday, with the Jays grabbing the lead off the bat and never letting go. George Springer led off the bottom of the first and welcomed Luis Garcia to the game with a solo shot 376 feet to left-center. Then, in his next at-bat in the third, Springer got to him again, this time rocketing one 424 feet out. That would be all the support that José Berríos needed, though he had to work himself out of trouble several times after allowing seven hits. Yordan Alvarez did manage to tag him for a dinger, but it was just a solo shot — the Blue Jay bullpen managed to contain the Astros the rest of the way en route to the 2-1 victory.
Tampa Bay Rays (12-9) vs. Minnesota Twins (12-9)
For the first five innings, this had the makings of a pitcher’s duel, with former Ray Chris Archer evading trouble for the Twins and Shane McClanahan mowing down batters for Tampa. Things took a turn when Carlos Correa led off the top of the sixth with a single and Kyle Garlick smacked a two-run blast, however, and from there on it was all Minnesota. The Twins added two in the seventh with a Trevor Larnach double and a Max Kepler single, then poured on four more runs in the ninth with the final blow coming on a Kepler two-run homer. Minnesota’s bullpen combined to give up just two singles in five innings of work, completely smothering Tampa’s chances of a comeback. Final score: 9-1, Twins.
Boston Red Sox (9-13)
The Sox are expected to hang around, but as their current record indicates, it’s not going well up in Fenway at the moment. They certainly won’t stay in contention if they give away games like they did last night, losing on a throwing error in extra innings to the Orioles. The decisive play came after Boston intentionally walked pinch-hitter Ryan McKenna to set up a first and second with no outs jam in the 10th inning, and Robinson Chirinos decided to bunt the runners over. Boston pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura fielded the ball quickly and attempted to fire over to third, but wildly overshot it and allowed the winning run to score:
This game especially burns for Boston, considering Nathan Eovaldi pitched a gem, tossing seven shutout innings before Matt Barnes took over for the eighth and promptly coughed up the lead.