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Rivalry Roundup: Alek Manoah shoves and the Sox stage a comeback

The rivals all held serve last night.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Yankees have a little cushion room between them and the rest of the American League right now, but more room never hurt. New York did its job on Saturday, defeating the White Sox 7-5 to move themselves to a dominant 29-10, but the others still had to do their part to gain some separation. How did the rest of the league hold up?

Tampa Bay Rays (24-16) vs. Baltimore Orioles (16-25)

This game was decisively in Tampa Bay’s favor, but it was significant for the Orioles for a different reason — top prospect Adley Rutschman made his MLB debut in this game and got his first big league hit, a triple in the seventh inning. As far as the game results, Tampa got ahead off the bat with a two-run Randy Arozarena bomb in the first inning and never looked back, winning by a final of 6-1.

Cincinnati Reds (11-28) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (22-18)

Yes, Cincinnati is a terrible team this year after ownership decided to force a fire sale. You still have to play the teams on the schedule, however, and Toronto came into this with no room to give Cincinnati life with a tight divisional race already setting in. Alek Manoah was on the mound for the Jays, and even though he didn’t have the stuff to generate many swing-and-misses, he shoved in this one. Manoah went eight innings and allowed just one run via a double from Joey Votto in the fourth, setting Toronto up for an easy 3-1 win.

Seattle Mariners (17-24) vs. Boston Red Sox (18-22)

Oh, Seattle. A fluke season nearly got them into the postseason despite a negative run differential last year, and they saw room to improve and they made it this offseason — but the wheels are falling off a bit early now that the games are being played. Their latest tragedy occurred in Fenway, where they took a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Both teams added a run in the third, but Boston came storming back in the fifth inning thanks in large part to a Rafael Devers homer.

This game felt like the inverse of Boston’s season up until this point. Garrett Whitlock, who was dealing for them in the bullpen for the past year with no assistance around him, got torched for 10 hits and five runs in just three innings. The Sox ‘pen then stepped in and shut the Mariners out the rest of the way, allowing only two baserunners in six innings of work. Boston pushed across the decisive run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Christian Vasquez single and took the 6-5 victory.

Texas Rangers (18-21) vs. Houston Astros (26-15)

Justin Verlander is an anomaly, man. The dude comes back from missing an entire year to injury as a 39-year-old and hops right back into the Cy Young conversation. Verlander’s latest sample was a six-inning shutout performance against the Rangers, who have been clawing their way back into the middle of the AL West. The Astros didn’t have much run support for their ace on this day, but much wouldn’t be needed — Yordan Alvarez singled home a run in the second and a wild pitch scored a runner from third in the fifth. Texas cut the deficit in half in the eighth, but it was too little too late to stop the Astros from picking this one up.

Minnesota Twins (24-16) vs. Kansas City Royals (14-25)

In a relatively lackluster division, the Twins are hoping to make their splash. Minnesota made short work of the Royals despite Brad Keller giving Kansas City seven innings of work. Old friends Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela hopped in on the beatdown for this one, with Sánchez in particular contributing an RBI double, but the Twins lineup overall was firing on all cylinders this time out. For good measure, they poured on four runs in the ninth to make it a 9-2 blowout.