Saturday was just another day in the apparently blissed land of the 2022 Yankees, as their B-lineup beat the man who entered the day with the best ERA in the American League, Alek Manoah. The 4-0 triumph ensured the Yankees’ 17th series victory of the season out of 21 (compared to two losses and two ties). They are now 49-16, an impressive 12 games ahead of the Jays, their closest AL East competition.
Toronto’s not the only threat out there, though. Here’s how everyone did.
Tampa Bay Rays (36-29) vs. Baltimore Orioles (29-38)
The Orioles are still the worst team in the American League East and they also remain a clear sub-.500 team, but I appreciate that they’re no longer an all-but-guaranteed W on the schedule for their opponents. The 2018-21 period was bleak as hell (and made the Yankees’ eight losses to them last year all the more galling). Is that such a devastatingly low threshold that the limbo bar is almost on the floor? Yes, but well, for the sake of my Oriole fan friends’ well-being, I’ll take it.
Anyway, the O’s and Rays played a tightly-contested ballgame at Camden Yards on Saturday afternoon. Baltimore landed the first blow with a two-run double by Robinson Chirinos in the second, but Tampa struck back hard with a pair of two-run doubles of their own in the third from Manuel Margot and Harold Ramírez. Ji-Man Choi then sent Kyle Bradish to the showers with a two-run bomb in the fifth to make it 6-2, Rays.
Showing some fight, the O’s came back with a fury the the home half, ensuring that Jeffrey Springs would have a short start, too. A three-run rally keyed by four singles siphoned the Rays’ lead to one, and after a two-out error by Taylor Walls in the sixth, an RBI hit by Anthony Santander off Ryan Thompson knotted it up at 6-6.
The outcome ultimately boiled down to who the next reliever to falter would be. Enter Dillon Tate, who simply didn’t have it in the ninth. A Yandy Díaz walk, Choi single, and Randy Arozarena hit by pitch loaded the bases; Ramírez scored Díaz with a sacrifice fly. Colin Poche tossed a perfect ninth and the Rays escaped with a narrow 7-6 victory.
Chicago White Sox (31-32) vs. Houston Astros (40-25)
Justin Verlander been almost untouchable at age 39, even in his first few months back on the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2020. Aside from a recent sweep of the hapless Tigers, the White Sox have been slumping something fierce. The preseason AL Central favorite has instead been mediocre since the second week of the season; Chicago hasn’t fallen out of the race or anything, but Tony La Russa’s club hasn’t even been above .500 since May 25th.
Naturally, the White Sox torched Verlander for seven runs on nine hits in just 3.2 innings of work — by far the future Hall of Famer’s worst start of the season. His teammates didn’t help him out either, as Jose Altuve let a grounder slip through his legs as part of the rally ...
... and the Astros’ lineup got absolutely stymied by the resurgent Johnny Cueto. The Dominican right-hander silenced Houston’s lineup over seven innings of two-hit ball, completing seven for the first time since June 25th of last year. It was all White Sox in a 7-0 win that had to stun the fans a Minute Maid Park who likely expected to witness dominance from their starting pitcher instead.
St. Louis Cardinals (38-29) vs. Boston Red Sox (35-31)
Speaking of Yankees rivals getting blown out at home, the Cardinals laid an even heavier whooping on Kutter Crawford and the Red Sox. Nolan Arenado set the tone with a two-run blast over the Green Monster in the first, and after Dylan Carlson doubled one in an inning later, the other Nolan — Nolan Gorman — clubbed a 440-foot to dead center in the fourth.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox countered with a couple runs off Dakota Hudson, but they squandered opportunities for more in the process. Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the second, and Jarren Duran rolled over in his own bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth.
So the Cardinals kept their 4-2 lead, and after the sixth, the ballgame would be all but over. Hansel Robles and Hirozaku Sawamura were clobbered for six runs on five hits, two walks, and an error, putting St. Louis up by eight. The Cards added one more as a cherry on top in the ninth, good for a final score of 11-2, St. Louis.
Minnesota Twins (38-29) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (31-36)
We end the roundup with another blowout, but clearly the least surprising of this trio. The D-backs gave Luke Weaver the ball for his first start of the 2022 season after missing the first two months and change with elbow inflammation. He’d made a couple relief appearances, and manager Torey Lovullo and company considered him ready to go.
Well, as even the Yankees’ vaunted pitching staff learned earlier in June, this Twins lineup can be quite difficult to face, and Weaver was not up to the task. In just 3.2 innings, Minnesota dropped 9 runs on 10 hits and a walk. Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, and Gio Urshela each delivered RBI doubles, and Gary Sánchez clubbed the biggest jaw-dropping blow of all in the top of the third, when he plastered a pitch from Weaver 456 feet to the back wall of the bleachers in left-center field:
Yeah, that sounds like Gary all right.
Not to be lost in the Twins’ carnage though, Dylan Bundy turned in a very nice start. The right-hander threw eight innings and allowed just one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking none. It was Bundy’s longest outing since a complete game in August 2020, and the Twins took it, 11-1.