The Yankees had a successful weekend against the Royals, but the series ended in suboptimal fashion with Clay Holmes blowing a save. Let’s run through the rest of yesterday’s American League action, and see if any of the club’s rivals were able to take advantage of the opportunity to gain ground.
Note that we are dropping the Red Sox from this roundup for now, as they are 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card race and would need to leapfrog the Orioles, Guardians, and White Sox to even get to “just behind” the Rays for the third Wild Card spot. If they make things interesting, then we’ll reassess, but for now, they’re gone.
Detroit Tigers 1 (41-62) vs. Toronto Blue Jays 4 (57-45)
Toronto’s surge continues. The Jays cruised past the Tigers 4-1 in the Sunday early game, taking three of four from Detroit and tightening their grip on a Wild Card spot.
Matt Chapman got things going quickly for Toronto, smashing a two-run homer in the first, his 20th of the year:
Javy Baez struck back with a solo shot in the fourth, the tenth of his season, but that was all the Tigers could muster against José Berríos, who tossed seven strong for the one. Berríos has had a poor 2022 on the whole, but he just capped a great July, a month in which he never went fewer than five innings, and allowed at most three runs in each of his six starts. A resurgence from the right-hander could be crucial to the Jays’ hopes in October.
Cleveland Guardians 5 (52-49) vs. Tampa Bay Rays 3 (54-48)
The Rays managed a nice win on Saturday, offering hope of a series win against the Guardians. Cleveland struck back, however, taking the series finale and two of three in Tampa, keeping the Rays still in search pf consistency.
Cleveland got off to a fast start against Shane McClanahan, who had a rare off day. Myles Straw drove home a run with a single in the second, and Jose Ramirez put Cleveland up 3-0 with a two-run knock of his own. Tampa got back into it against Bryan Shaw, scoring two in the bottom of the second and eventually tying the game on Ji-man Choi’s fourth-inning sac fly.
But the Guardians kept working McClanahan, chasing the lefty with two more runs in the fifth. McClanahan’s line read 4.1 innings, seven hits, three walks, and five runs, the most he’s allowed in his young career. He left with a 5-3 deficit, one that held for the rest of the game, with Emmanuel Clase closing things out for his 23rd save.
Minnesota Twins 2 (53-48) vs. San Diego Padres 3 (57-46)
This was a tight one, as the two sides went back and forth in the rubber match of the series. Ultimately, Sean Manaea outdid Dylan Bundy and the Padres escaped with a narrow 3-2 victory.
For a while, this contest was a duel of solo homers. Jurickson Profar struck first with a solo shot off Bundy, and Luis Arraez countered with one of his own to tie the game in the fifth. Jose Miranda nudged the Twins in front with a solo dinger in the sixth, but the Padres strung together singles in the bottom of the frame, with Luke Voit ultimately giving San Diego the lead with an RBI single:
Manaea exited after six solid, and the San Diego bullpen did excellent work from there. Nabil Crismatt, Tim Hill, and Luis García each pitched a perfect inning, giving Minnesota little chance to mount a come back. With that, the Twins’ lead in the AL Central dwindled to just one game.
Seattle Mariners 2 (55-48) vs. Houston Astros 3 (67-36)
This one looked like it might be all Astros from the jump, with Houston attacking young starter George Kirby from the jump. Kirby hit José Altuve with his first pitch of the game, only for Altuve to score on a double steal of home and second a few batters later. Kyle Tucker added an RBI single for a 2-0 lead, one which the Astros threatened to extend in loading the bases, but Kirby managed to escape further trouble.
Jake Odorizzi made the lead stand up, firing seven shutout innings with just two hits against eight strikeouts. He departed with the score still at 2-0, but the bullpen couldn’t hold. Ryne Stanek came on and yielded a two-run, game-tying bomb to Jesse Winker:
The game went to extras, and Hector Neris managed to strand Seattle’s zombie runner in the tenth, giving the Astros an opening. They seized it, with Yordan Alvarez grounding a single to left to score Mauricio Dubon for the walk-off win. The Astros pushed themselves to within just two games of the Yankees for the AL’s top record.
Oakland Athletics 1 (39-65) vs. Chicago White Sox 4 (51-50)
It’s been a disappointing season on the south side of Chicago, with the White Sox scuffling for most of the year despite entering 2022 as clear AL Central favorites. They’ve played a bit better of late, however, and after defeating the A’s yesterday they have the best playoff odds in the division per FanGraphs.
The Sox started staff ace Dylan Cease, who gave up an early solo shot to Ramon Laureano as the A’s took a 1-0 lead, but otherwise was dominant. Cease gave up one run and struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball, lowering his ERA to 2.01 and bolstering his AL Cy Young case.
Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez both hit solo homers to pace Chicago’s offense. Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, and Liam Hendriks cruised in relief of Cease to deliver the straightforward win over Oakland, pulling the White Sox to within two games of the AL Central lead.