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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Blue Jays keep rounding into form

The Yankees’ rivals up north swept away the White Sox, while the Rays also won to keep the pressure on in the East.

Chicago White Sox v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Yankees had a busy day yesterday, taking Shohei Ohtani (the pitcher) to task in the afternoon, then seeing Jameson Taillon shove in the nightcap. They emerged with a doubleheader sweep, thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind victory in game two.

But there was more action to behold on Thursday, with the Yankees’ most important AL East rivals both in action. Did they keep pace? Let’s take a look.

Detroit Tigers (20-30) vs. Minnesota Twins (30-22)

The Twins have had a nice 2022 campaign thus far, and they’ve staked themselves a lead in the AL Central. That said, they may kick themselves by the end of the year for dropping games to some of their lowly division rivals. The Tigers downed the Twins 3-2 for their third straight win in a row over Minnesota.

The Twins actually looked to be in control for most of the day, coaxing a fine start out of a mostly-washed Chris Archer, who managed five innings while allowing one run on three hits. Gio Urshela had given the Twins their first run with an RBI double in the third, and Nick Gordon put them ahead 2-1 with his own RBI double in the fourth.

That score held until the bottom of the eighth, when outfielder Daz Cameron stole the game for Detroit:

Gregory Soto closed things out quickly in the ninth for his tenth save of the year.

Tampa Bay Rays (30-21) vs. Texas Rangers (24-26)

When the Rays signed Corey Kluber to a one-year deal last winter, it seemed like the kind of move that could yield dividends. The Rays specialize in molding competent pitchers out of all kinds of raw clay, and in Kluber, they had a once-great veteran who likely still had something to offer. If there was a place for Kluber to succeed at the end of his career, it was Tampa.

Kluber got off to a rough start in 2022, but he’s starting to come around. He held the Yankees in check last week, and fired six innings of one-run ball against the Rangers yesterday to propel the Rays to a 3-1 victory.

Tampa staked Kluber to an early lead and never looked back. Vidal Brujan drove in a run with a second-inning double, and the Rays added two more with RBI from Yandy Diaz and Isaac Paredes in the third. Texas could manage just a Marcus Semien solo shot against Kluber and the Tampa bullpen. That was only Semein’s second dinger on what’s been a miserable year for the star shortstop.

Chicago White Sox (23-25) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (29-20)

This has been a fun series between two talented teams, and this game featured an odd pitching matchup; the precocious Alek Manoah for Toronto, and the inexplicably still-effective Johnny Cueto for Chicago.

Cueto managed another useful start for the White Sox, limiting Toronto to three earned runs across six innings, striking out five while walking none. On the other side, Manoah was typically strong, working 7.2 innings and allowing three runs.

The Jays entered the eighth clinging to a 4-3 lead, but they blew things open from there, much as they did in Wednesday’s night game. Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, and Bo Bichette all drove in runs in quick succession, and in a flash Toronto led 8-3. They closed things out in the ninth to finish off a strong sweep of Chicago. The Blue Jays had some uneven stretches over the first two months of the season, but they’re starting to click now, a development that should concern the Yankees a bit.