Whew, was that an action-packed Saturday of baseball! The Yankees swept the doubleheader with a pair of comeback wins over the Guardians — their 25th and 26th such wins this season. They now sit 58-21, a full 14 games ahead of the second-place Blue Jays.
Elsewhere around the league, the Bombers’ AL rivals had busy days themselves, so let’s see how those games unfolded.
Tampa Bay Rays (42-36) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (44-35)
Rays ace Shane McClanahan continued his dominant start to the season and is surely the frontrunner in the AL Cy Young race. He tossed seven innings of one-run ball to go along with 10 strikeouts, lowering his season ERA to 1.74 to go along with a ridiculous 8:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Wander Franco and Isaac Paredes each contributed solo shots while Yandy Díaz, Randy Arozarena, and René Pinto accounted for the rest of the runs batted in of the Rays’ 6-2 victory.
There was a scary moment in third inning when Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman was struck in the right foot area by a 100-mph comebacker off Franco’s bat. He was forced to leave the game, although the X-Rays did come back negative and he has since been diagnosed with a right ankle contusion.
The second game of the doubleheader was an even bigger headache for the Blue Jays. The Rays scored six runs in the first three innings and a further four in the fifth, all charged to Toronto starter Thomas Hatch. Paredes logged his second home run of the day — this time a three-run shot in the fifth — and four total RBI while Francisco Mejía blasted a pair of home runs and knocked in three on the day.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bradley Zimmer each contributed home runs for the Blue Jays, but at that point in the game, they were just consolation runs as Toronto fell, 11-5, on the weekend they celebrated Canada Day at the Rogers Centre. Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was absent from the dugout for a portion of the game, and we have since been told that he was and is supporting first base coach Mark Budzinski as he deals with a personal matter. With the loss, the Blue Jays temporarily dropped to third in the AL East by winning percentage behind the Red Sox; however, Boston’s eventual loss to the Cubs last night ensures the Jays retain a half game lead for second in the division.
Baltimore Orioles (35-44) vs. Minnesota Twins (45-36)
The Twins walked off the Orioles for the second straight game. Friday night was on a Byron Buxton home run, while last night was more of a team effort. Down one to start bottom of the ninth inning, Jorge Polanco kickstarted the rally with a leadoff home run off Orioles closer Jorge Lopéz to tie the game at three apiece. Lopéz only surrendered his first long ball of the season on Friday to Buxton; now, the Twins have gotten to him twice.
After a Nick Gordon strikeout, Alex Kiriloff doubled and Gary Sánchez singled to put runners on second and third for José Miranda, who lined a single to left to win the game.
Los Angeles Angels (37-43) vs. Houston Astros (50-27)
The Angels are simply no match for a red-hot Astros squad. Jose Altuve had a three-hit day with a home run, Kyle Tucker added two hits and a home run, and heck, even Chas McCormick had a multi-hit day with a long ball. But the big basher yesterday was the unlikely Martín Maldonado, who mashed a pair of taters in the second and sixth. José Urquidy logged six strong innings giving up a run on two hits against eight strikeouts as the Astros coasted to a 9-1 victory.
The Angels have now been outscored 17-2 and outhit 23-5 in the first two games of this series. With the victory, the Astros become the second team in baseball to reach 50 wins after the Yankees achieved the feat on June 20th.
Boston Red Sox (43-35) vs. Chicago Cubs (32-46)
Yankees fans were spoiled with a final treat in the last game of the day to feature an AL rival as the Cubs downed the Red Sox, 3-1, at Wrigley. Chicago starter Alec Mills left the game with a back injury after throwing just seven pitches, forcing Mark Leiter Jr. into emergency action. He acquitted himself quite well, tossing 5.1 innings allowing three hits against five strikeouts and just a lone run on a sixth inning Rafael Devers run scoring GIDP. Chicago scored a pair in the second and one in the eighth while Mychal Givens and David Robertson combined for 3.1 scoreless innings to lock down the win for the Cubs.