Well, after a couple weeks of uninterrupted winning, the Yankees’ winning streak finally came to an end, thanks to a tight, tough loss to the Blue Jays. Though Toronto gained ground in the division race, perhaps the Yankees would be fortunate enough to see their rivals around the AL fail to take the chance to catch up.
Alas, the rest competition in the junior circuit had a fairly successful Wednesday night. Here’s what went down.
Seattle Mariners (12-13) vs. Houston Astros (14-11)
Justin Verlander keeps on keeping on. After missing the entirety of the 2021 season after Tommy John surgery, the 39-year-old continues to resemble his prime, Cy Young-winning self. He shut out the Mariners through the first six innings, before allowing Seattle’s only runs on a two-run shot from Eugenio Suarez in the seventh. Verlander earned his third win, and lowered his season ERA to 1.93 in the process.
A Houston offense that’s been inconsistent so far this year made sure Verlander wouldn’t have to sweat through a pitchers’ duel, with the Astros chasing rookie Matt Brash after just three innings. Alex Bregman went 3-for-3 with three RBI, pushing his season wRC+ to 138, and Michael Brantley chipped in two hits and two RBI in what ended up as a 7-2 Houston win.
Tampa Bay Rays (15-10) vs. Oakland Athletics (10-15)
For the second straight day, the A’s teased us with the possibility of an upset of the Rays. Staff ace Frankie Montas was on the mound in Oakland, and he dominated the Tampa lineup, tossing seven scoreless with six strikeouts against one walk. Run support of any kind would be enough to propel the Athletics.
But the A’s went down feebly against Corey Kluber, who threw six shutout frames of his own. The Rays broke a scoreless tie in the eighth, with a Manuel Margot single driving home two. The rock-solid Tampa bullpen had no trouble closing things from there, cinching the 3-0 win and the series sweep.
Minnesota Twins (15-10) vs. Baltimore Orioles (9-16)
Dylan Bundy suffered through a brutal homecoming. Facing the team that drafted him fourth overall 11 years ago, Bundy was shelled for nine runs in 3.2 innings. Cedric Mullins and Ramon Urias both homered in a six-run third inning, and after the Twins struck back in the top of the fourth for four runs of their own, the Orioles tacked on three more against Bundy.
The O’s led 9-4 as Bundy exited, and that’s where the score would stand until the game’s conclusion. Baltimore avoided a sweep, and finally slowed down a red-hot Twins team that had won 11 of their last 12. Minnesota now leads the AL Central by three games over the Guardians, while the Orioles remain far behind the AL East race.
Boston Red Sox (10-14) vs. Los Angeles Angels (15-10)
Those still wincing from Boston’s heist of Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft, look away. Whitlock has shifted to the rotation, and he performed well against the Angels, striking nine and walking none across five innings of two-run ball. The only damage he allowed as a two-run dinger from Max Stassi in the fifth.
That Stassi long ball knotted things up, though the Red Sox managed to take a 4-3 lead into the ninth thanks to Xander Bogaerts’ solo shot in the eighth. But both Mike Trout and Shohei Othani reached base in the ninth, and with two on, two out, and the count full, Jared Walsh laced a game-tying single to knot up the game once again.
The Angels weren’t finished there. The game went to extras, and after Matt Barnes retired the first two batters in the tenth, 2022 revelation Taylor Ward sent a majestic fly over the Green Monster for a two-run dinger and a 6-4 lead:
Later in the inning, Anthony Rendon added an RBI single, and Walsh smashed the game open with another dinger over the Monster, putting the Angels up 10-4. The game would ultimately finish 10-5, preserving the Angels’ 1.5-game lead in the AL West, and keeping the Sox eight games back in the East.
Editor’s note: As a reminder, we are going by FanGraphs playoff odds to determine our AL Central and AL West picks, so while the Angels continue to lead the AL West, we will be focusing on the Astros for the time being. This disclaimer will remain in all Rivalry Roundup posts as the series gets underway.