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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: O’s get some magic from Rougned Odor

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on August 9th.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Playing a truly bizarre and stupid 1-0 game out in Seattle that lasted 13 innings, the Yankees and Mariners were the last showdown of the night. So they had the spotlight all to themselves to show off their terrible baserunning! What a privilege.

All of the Yankees’ top opponents finished up action at least slightly earlier, so it’s time to check in on the results.

Baltimore Orioles 6 (58-52), Toronto Blue Jays 5 (60-50)

Give the O’s some credit — they’re staring down a fierce Wild Card rival in the Blue Jays, who are is much further along in their contention window, and they’re not backing down. Brandon Hyde’s ballclub showed some serious resiliency late on Tuesday, as their 3-1 midgame lead slipped away in a four-run sixth that was capped by a three-run bomb from Bo Bichette off reliever Bryan Baker. It was Bo’s second blast of the night.

However, the Baltimore bullpen took over from there and didn’t allow the Jays to score again the rest of the way. That allowed Ryan Mountcastle to bring the O’s one run closer in the seventh with an RBI double to bring home Adley Rutschman, and Rougned Odor stepped up to bat in the eighth as the go-ahead run.

As fans of the 2021 Yankees recall, Odor is not a very good hitter at this point, but he remains quite capable of hammering an absolute mistake. Thankfully for the Camden Yards faithful who braved a rain delay and a blown lead, that’s exactly what Yimi Garcia provided:

Just like that, the O’s were up, 6-5, and soon after newly-crowned closer Félix Bautista trotted in from the ‘pen to Omar’s whistle from “The Wire,” the ballgame was over. Improbably, Baltimore is now just half a game behind Tampa Bay for a Wild Card spot (and Toronto was rendered unable to chip away at the Yankees’ 10.5-game AL East lead).

Houston Astros 7 (71-40), Texas Rangers 5 (48-61)

The poor Rangers actually had hope. Marcus Semien hit a leadoff homer and Corey Seager added a two-run tater in the third that put José Urquidy on the ropes early. Bubba Thompson’s RBI single gave Texas a 4-0 lead in the fourth with All-Star Martín Pérez on the mound.

Alas, the Astros loaded the bases in the home half of the fourth, and Aledmys Díaz ruined it all with one mighty swing:

Oof. Texas briefly took the lead back during their next time up with a homer from Adolis García, but of course that wasn’t going to stand. Jose Altuve promptly tied it again with an RBI double, Yuli Gurriel gave Houston the lead on a sacrifice fly, and Kyle Tucker added insurance an inning later with a double to score Alex Bregman.

The bullpen quartet of Will Smith, Rafael Montero, Héctor Neris, and Ryan Pressly combined to throw shutout ball across the final four innings with two hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. These guys are bullies. Also, with the Yankees’ loss, the Astros are now tied with them for the best record in American League, which may prove key come October when home-field advantage is at stake.

Milwaukee Brewers 5 (59-50), Tampa Bay Rays 3 (58-51)

In a matchup of a couple teams that are somewhat underwhelming but would still hold playoff spots if the season ended today, the home emerged victorious in Milwaukee. Andrew McCutchen broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth by singling to drive in his second run of the game. Ryan Thompson struck out Hunter Renfroe for the second out and nearly wiggled out with a one-run deficit, but Kolten Wong ensured that the fifth would have a crooked number attached to it:

The two-run double put the Brew Crew ahead, 5-2, and the Josh Hader-less bullpen took over from there. Hoby Milner allowed the Rays to get a run closer in the seventh, but Brad Boxberger and Matt Bush rendered the point moot by throwing perfect frames to clinch the W. Sloppy mistakes certainly cost the Rays in this one, who are just barely hanging onto a Wild Card spot.

Los Angeles Dodgers 10 (76-33), Minnesota Twins 3 (57-52)

A couple months ago, it looked like the Twins were going to let the AL Central get away from them, as the Guardians overtook them in late June and were tied atop the division as late as June 24th. Cleveland lagged a bit afterward though, and while Minnesota didn’t play much better, they expanded their lead to at least a cushion of two-to-four games for awhile.

Well, with the so-so play continuing and a series against the Dodgers on the docket while the Guardians faced the Tigers, the Twins were in trouble. Sure enough, their AL Central lead is now less than a game. The best team in baseball wrecked them, as Julio Urías twirled seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts and no walks, and each of Will Smith, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner, and Max Muncy delivered RBI doubles to give the Dodgers a big advantage. Turner had a pair of ‘em, and Muncy threw in a homer for good measure, too.

The Guardians beat the Tigers, 5-2, so they’re now within half a game of the Twins. The White Sox only split a doubleheader with the Royals, so they remain 1.5 games behind. worse, they lost Tim Anderson for four-to-six weeks with a torn ligament in his hand. Since no one has pulled away, they’re still alive in the AL Central race, but it’s looking bleak in Chicago.