The Yankees were traveling on Monday, but the rest of the league was active for the Fourth of July. The rest of the AL East played and continued to shift around the middle spots in the standings, while the Central and West leaders kept the pedal to the metal and found some late dramatics. Let’s break it all down:
Tampa Bay Rays (43-37) vs. Boston Red Sox (45-35)
Tampa and Boston opened up a series in Fenway with both sides looking to take hold of second place in the division, and the Red Sox are the early winners in that regard. They dismantled the Rays in the series opener 4-0, and they did so with some of the style that the Rays are known for. Boston ran out an opener in Austin Davis, who went two scoreless innings before turning things over to Kutter Crawford. Crawford allowed just two hits in 5.1 innings while striking out eight, flummoxing the Tampa lineup all day.
Meanwhile, the Rays were running their own opener in Jalen Beeks with Josh Fleming as the bulk guy behind him. Beeks did his job, but Fleming allowed a run to cross in the fourth and fifth inning and departed in the eighth after the first three batters got on base (one thanks to an error).
Toronto Blue Jays (44-37) vs. Oakland Athletics (27-55)
Toronto had the task of taking on Oakland, but just like the Red Sox struggled over the weekend Toronto couldn’t get anything going against an inferior opponent. It didn’t help that they were facing Cole Irvin, who has been one of the few bright spots for Oakland, and he dominated on Monday. Irvin went eight strong, and the only time that Toronto was able to scratch a run across was when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove a two-out double and scored on an Alejandro Kirk single in the fourth inning. On the other side, Alek Manoah had a rare rough outing, giving up three runs in the first and eventually giving up two more (one of which was unearned) to close out a 5.2 inning, five run outing. Zach Jackson came on to handle the ninth for Oakland and secured their 5-1 win.
Minnesota Twins (46-37) vs. Chicago White Sox (38-40)
If the White Sox want to have a chance of getting back into the AL Central race, they’re going to have to do some damage against the Twins — and they’ll be kicking themselves that they let this one get away. The game began as a bit of a pitchers’ duel, with Dylan Bundy and Johnny Cueto both working around a home run to give five and six innings of work respectively. At the end of nine innings things were knotted at two, so extra innings rolled around and the Twins finally managed to rally. Luis Arraez singled to score the ghost runner, and then walks from Carlos Correa and Max Kepler set up Jorge Polanco to drive home another run on a sac fly and Alex Kirilloff to score two on a single. Chicago managed to get their own ghost runner across, but that would be it in a 6-3 Twins win.
Kansas City Royals (29-49) vs. Houston Astros (52-27)
Houston also found itself in a bit of a trap game, as they fell down 5-0 to Kansas City after three innings. Jake Odorizzi simply couldn’t put batters away, giving up nine hits in total and one long shot off the bat of MJ Melendez. Houston had resolve, however, and after cutting the deficit to three they exploded in the eighth. Singles from Kyle Tucket and Yuli Gurriel scored three to tie the game, and in the ninth Yordan Alvarez connected on his 24th homer of the year to walk it off, 7-6.