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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Blue Jays’ misery continues in Seattle

The Blue Jays got swept away, while the Astros took care of business as usual.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees had a rare frustrating weekend, dropping two crushing games to the Red Sox at Fenway. Even with those missteps, the rest of the AL East remains distant in the rearview mirror, though the Astros remain a threat in the race for the best record in the Junior Circuit. Here’s what happened around the league.

Cincinnati Reds 10 (32-54) vs. Tampa Bay Rays 5 (45-40)

The Rays sent young righty Shane Baz out to try and salvage this series finale and avoid a sweep at the hands of the lowly Reds. Baz si a very talented pitcher who’d had success in his first eight major league starts, but things did not go as planned on Sunday.

Baz suffered through a hellish third inning, in which the Reds scored seven times thanks to three homers, one each from Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, and Mike Moustakas. The Rays relieved Baz with the impeccably-named Phoenix Sanders, who allowed three more runs in the third to give Cincinnati a 10-3 lead.

The Rays pulled a bit closer in the eighth, with Josh Lowe and Rene Pinto each roping solo homers, but Tampa failed to rally and lost their third straight. Nick Lodolo started for the Reds and gave up nine hits over five innings, but limited the damage to three runs for the win.

Texas Rangers 5 (39-44) vs. Minnesota Twins 6 (48-40)

These two teams played another back-and-forth game in what’s been a pretty fun series. Neither club had a top starter on the mound, with the Twins starting Dylan Bundy and Texas throwing out Dane Dunning, and it showed in the form of a chunk of early runs. Byron Buxton started things off with a solo shot in the first, his 23rd of the season, with the Twins tacking on two more in the third for a 3-0 lead.

But the Rangers struck right back in the bottom of the second, with infielder Josh Smith clearing the bases with a game-tying, three-run double:

Smith was once a solid prospect in the Yankee system, before getting flipped for Joey Gallo at last season’s trade deadline.

Dunning hit Jose Miranda with a pitch with the bases loaded to put Minnesota back up 4-3, ending Dunning’s day after 2.1 innings pitched and four runs allowed. Texas’ bullpen fared better, mostly holding down the Twins’ lineup, with veteran standout Matt Moore in parctiular looking sharp, lowering his ERA to 1.88 with 1.2 scoreless.

The Twins carried a 6-4 lead late in the game, with Corey Seager hitting a solo shot in the eighth to cut the lead in half, but the Rangers couldn’t find another run to send the game to extras. Usual closer Jhoan Duran gave up the homer to Seager, with Tyler Duffey coming on for his second save of the year.

Houston Astros 6 (56-29) vs. Oakland Athletics 1 (29-58)

It’s not controversial to say the Yankees have played the best baseball of any team in the league this year. Outside of New York, though, the Astros have looked more threatening than perhaps any other club. They took care of business against a moribund Oakland team, taking the series with the A’s via an easy 6-1 victory.

Jake Odorizzi has not set the world on fire as an Astro, with an exactly average 100 ERA+ to show for his 32 appearances in Houston. But he was more than good enough to flatten the Athletics, shoving for seven shutout innings while striking out seven and walking just one. Cole Irvin started for Oakland and was solid through six, allowing just two runs, but the Astros tagged reliever Austin Pruitt for four runs between the seventh and eighth to put the game out of reach. Korey Lee did the most damage with a two-run double in the seventh, and Kyle Tucker added a solo homer in the eighth.

Seattle Mariners 6 (45-42) vs. Toronto Blue Jays 5 (45-42)

The Blue Jays have shockingly plummeted in the standings, entering this game having dropped eight of nine and looking just to avoid a four-game sweep in Seattle. They had a lead late, but somehow found a way to squander another one, losing again in crushing fashion.

This was a game of solo homers to start, with George Springer, Carlos Santana, and Raimel Tapia trading solo jacks across the first four innings, setting up Toronto with a 2-1 lead. They extended their advantage in the fourth on a two-run single from Bo Bichette. Seattle tied it at four, but Bichette put the Jays ahead again with a solo homer in the seventh:

With a 5-4 lead through seven, it looked like Toronto might finally put a stop to the bleeding. But Santana stepped into the box once more in the eighth:

The veteran took Adam Cimber deep for his second homer of the game. Paul Sewald came on for the ninth and finished off the Blue Jays, who sank even further back in the AL East race.