We started off on the wrong foot last night because the Yankees lost, and that always leaves you feeling less-than-great about the night in baseball. New York came into Pittsburgh against a not-great Pirates team and looked pretty flat, dropping game one of this two-match set, 5-2.
On top of that, though, both the Rays and the Astros were able to pull off wins last night, as though the baseball gods were conspiring against me personally. It wouldn’t be the first time. Keep reading below for more details on just how last night’s American League action unfolded.
Tampa Bay Rays (44-37) vs. Boston Red Sox (45-36)
Well, well, well...Nick Pivetta.
Pivetta’s had a strong 2022, entering play with a 3.23 ERA, but that number went way up over the course of the game. To his credit, he allowed no home runs, but a booming double in the first inning to Kevin Kiermaier had the Sox down 3-0 before the home team could take a swing.
Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story answered with home runs to tie the game back up, but a disaster of a sixth inning saw four Rays cross the plate, and Pivetta was charged with seven runs in total. In fairness to him, Jake Diekman did allow a walk and run scoring single after taking over midway through the inning, but the damage was done. Late-game insurance put this one away for the Rays as our nightly mid-tier AL East dogfight continues. (The Yankees are 13 games ahead of Boston and 14 up on Tampa.)
Kansas City Royals (29-50) vs. Houston Astros (53-27)
it is time to count out touchdown tom.— Jon Bois (@jon_bois) February 7, 2021
Jon Bois sums up my feelings about the Houston Astros quite nicely. I started this post when the Royals had gone up 4-0 after three innings — y’know, doing the headline and such. I was feeling pretty good, full of confidence that this plucky, rather bad Royals squad could upset the AL 1B to the Yankees’ 1A. I walked away for about 20 minutes and wham:
In the span of three batters, Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman went deep, bringing in a trio of runs and giving the Astros the lead. You just can’t count out touchdown.... ‘stros.
Credit to the Royals, they managed to score in each of the final three frames to keep it close, but Aledmys Díaz and Yordan Alvarez hit towering homers to add vital breathing room and secure the Astros’ win.
Minnesota Twins (47-37) vs. Chicago White Sox (38-41)
It sure is something when Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa combine to go 0-for-8 and your club can still put up eight runs. The Twins feasted on Michael Kopech the second time through the order, putting up six runs from the third to the fifth innings.
Kopech allowed four home runs in 4.2 innings, albeit only one of them a multi-run affair, and Alex Kirilloff had the second multi-homer game of his career, with two long balls and three runs driven in, on top of two walks in a truly career-highlighting game, to pace the blowout win.
Toronto Blue Jays (44-38) vs. Oakland Athletics (28-55)
Continuing our theme of the night, runs early in the game spell disaster. Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi allowed a pair of runs in both the first and third innings out in Oakland, and the 4-1 deficit for the Blue Jays was just too much to overcome.
Kikuchi didn’t make it out of the third inning, though the Jays’ continual reliance on Trent Thornton would be concerning were I a Blue Jays fan.
Watch this video and ignore Stephen Piscotty completely. Thornton misses his spot by a country mile — a continental mile, if that’s a thing — and his reaction tells you everything you need to know about his placement. That was his sixth home run allowed this season, a 1.46 HR/9 rate that is, admittedly, better than his 2.20 rate from last year, but just isn’t acceptable for a guy that you call on to work multiple innings. Big swings hurt you the most in close games, and Piscotty’s dinger was, if not the biggest hit of the night, the dagger.