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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Guardians shock Twins again, Jays down the Rays

Cleveland shocked the Twins for the second straight day, while the Blue Jays moved into second in the AL East.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It was a light day of action across MLB, as it often is with many teams typically traveling on Thursdays. The Yankees were one of the teams in play, as they work through an awkward part of their schedule that had them play in New York, in Houston, and in Cleveland on three consecutive days.

They dropped that one game against the Astros, offering up the rare opportunity for their rivals to close the enormous gap in the AL East ever so slightly. Here’s what happened.

Minnesota Twins (43-36) vs. Cleveland Guardians (39-34)

It’s been a fun couple days in Cleveland. On Wednesday, the Guardians won in thrilling fashion, erasing a three-run deficit in extra innings and winning on a Josh Naylor walk-off homer. They replicated feat yesterday, rallying late again and walking the Twins off for the second consecutive day.

Shane Bieber started for Cleveland, and as has been typical for the right-banger this year, he was more good than great. He managed six solid innings, but Jose Miranda got him for a bases-clearing, three-run double in the third. Bieber ultimately exited having allowed those three runs, with five strikeouts against two walks.

Thanks to Miranda’s work, Minnesota carried a 3-1 lead late into the game. There, Tyler Thornburg got to work throwing things away. He loaded the bases thanks to a hit-by-pitch and two walks in three consecutive plate appearances. Myles Straw then tied the game with an infield single, with two runs scoring thanks to a throwing error by Carlos Correa.

The game went to the ninth tied, but Cleveland didn’t let it get to extras this time. After a José Ramirez walk, Andres Gimenez ended the game with a two-run walk-off:

Two days, two two-run walk-off dingers. That’s not a bad way to pull within one game of first in the AL Central.

Toronto Blue Jays (43-33) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (40-35)

The Rays ran a standard-issue opener/follower strategy in this one, running out Matt Wisler for one inning and following with Ryan Yarbrough for bulk innings afterward. Yarbrough was largely effective, holding the Jays to two runs through the first six frames, with Teoscar Hernandez tagging him for a two-run homer in the fourth.

Toronto had a 2-1 lead at the point, though, as Yusei Kikuchi had one of his best starts in a while. Five days after getting battered by the Brewers for five runs in two innings, Kikuchi shut down the Rays to the tune of six innings, four hits, one run and eight strikeouts, with the only damage coming courtesy of a Isaac Paredes solo homer.

Yarbrough faltered in the seventh as the Jays pressed their advantage. Santiago Espinal, quietly a productive player for Toronto this year, hit a two-run homer out to left to knock Yarbrough from the game:

David Phelps and Adam Cimber worked through the final two innings easily, navigating the game to its conclusion without the aid of the Jays’ usual closer, Jordan Romano. The win moved the Blue Jays into a tie with the Red Sox for second in the division at 43-33. It remains staggering that a record as solid as that leaves both clubs 12.5 games behind the Bombers.