Twelve-game division leads in July go a long way toward making your Sundays stress-free, and the Yankees ensured that they wouldn’t really even have regrets on their end about the day itself with a 6-0 win over Baltimore. Not all their rivals were so lucky, so here’s how they fared on Sunday.
Toronto Blue Jays (53-43) 8, Boston Red Sox (48-48) 4
After Boston’s scorching 20-6 June that brought them back into the playoff picture, Alex Cora’s ballclub probably never envisioned that they’d be back to square one in a horrid July, right at .500. The Blue Jays put a finishing touch on their three-game sweep at Fenway Park by surging to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and never looking back. The Red Sox are now 5-15 in July, sinking like a rock, and Chaim Bloom has to at least consider consider selling with even Cleveland ahead of Boston in the Wild Card standings.
Brayan Bello was awful in the first for Boston, but he almost had a chance to get out of it scoreless. The bases were loaded with two outs for Cavan Biggio ... who singled to center to score two runs. After a Matt Chapman walk, Raimel Tapia delivered the most memorable blow for a second-straight day — a bases-clearing triple to right-center.
Boston scrapped back to 5-2 against Ross Stripling, but three Jays runs in the fifth off Hirokazu Sawamura made it a breezy effort for the Jays once more. Much unlike Boston, Toronto has won six in a row and now leads the Wild Card chase.
Minnesota Twins (52-44) 9, Detroit Tigers (38-58) 1
The times are just rough in Detroit right now. The Twins carried their 3-0 first-inning lead all the way through to the win, but they did it wasn’t even impressive — it more speaks to the Tigers’ pure ineptitude. Here’s what happened after one-out hits from Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco:
- RBI fielder’s choice from Max Kepler when Jonathan Schoop’s throw home couldn’t catch Correa
- Error by first baseman Harold Castro scores a second run
- Jose Miranda plunked by Rony García with the bases loaded
Enthralling stuff, right? On the pitching side for the Twins, Sonny Gray fired six innings of two-hit, one-run ball, striking out seven along the way. Minnesota leads Cleveland by three games in the AL Central, while Detroit tumbled past Kansas City to the cellar.
Kansas City Royals (38-57) 4, Tampa Bay Rays (52-43) 2
Speaking of those Royals, the Yankees might owe the lowly team a thank-you card. They played the Rays tough and stole a series from them in their first salvo of the second half. Kris Bubic held Tampa Bay to two runs on four hits and three walks in seven fine innings, and while his 2-0 lead in the second withered into a tie, the Royals took the lead back against the Rays’ bullpen.
Seventh-inning singles by Whit Merrifield, Nicky Lopez, and Hunter Dozier off Brooks Raley gave Kansas City a 3-2 advantage, and they added an insurance run in the eighth when catcher MJ Melendez doubled against Shawn Armstrong to bring home Michael A. Taylor. Meanwhile, Dylan Coleman and Taylor Clarke shut Tampa out over the final two frames to secure the victory.
Houston Astros (64-32) 8, Seattle Mariners (51-45) 5
The Astros are a bunch of bullies, huh? They not only stamped out the Mariners’ pre-All-Star break 14-game winning streak, but they swept them in Seattle (and they didn’t even have Tom Hanks to comfort them). Houston is now 16-5 in July and firing on all cylinders, just a game and a half behind the Yankees for the top mark in the American League.
Jose Altuve homered on Robbie Ray’s first pitch of the game, Jeremy Peña went back-to-back with a bomb of his own, and the offseason addition didn’t even last into the fourth inning for the Mariners.
Ray surrendered 6 runs on 10 hits in only 3 innings, and even light-hitting Martín Maldonado notched a pair of hits in the Astros’ 8-5 triumph. Seattle made the score look a little more respectable with five off the tiring Framber Valdez and reliever Seth Martinez in the seventh and eighth, but otherwise, this game was all Astros.
Houston essentially has its fifth AL West crown in six years on lock with a 13-game lead on Seattle. The Mariners have to be thanking the Red Sox for their own dismal weekend at home, but they still only lead the Guardians by two games for the last Wild Card spot. (Cleveland lost to the White Sox, 6-3.)