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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Bombers keep pace with the pack

Rays mash Marlins; Blue Jays halt Cubs comeback; Mariners trounce Tigers; Astros fend off Rangers

Seattle Mariners v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Yankees halted a mini three-game skid with a dominant victory over the Angels, capstoned by a three-run bomb from Aaron Judge, his 51st on the year. It’s doubly critical that they secured the victory last night to keep the pack at arm’s length, as the rest of their AL rivals also won. Let’s recap the highlights of those other games.

Tampa Bay Rays 7 (71-57), Miami Marlins 2 (55-74)

AL Cy Young hopeful Shane McClanahan was scheduled to start this game, however he appeared to experience some discomfort warming up in the bullpen prior to first pitch and was scratched for Shawn Armstrong. This forced the Rays into an impromptu bullpen game, though that’s nothing new for the mavericks from Tampa Bay. Their first four pitchers combined for six scoreless before Garrett Cleavinger allowed a pair in the seventh, but the game was well in hand at that point.

Deadline acquisition Jose Siri went 3-for-4 with a home run and a pair driven in and Randy Arozarena went 3-for-5 with a dinger while Yandy Díaz and Harold Ramírez each had multi-hit afternoons. Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo allowed five runs in six innings, though only three earned. However, both unearned runs were his own doing, a throwing error in the fifth eventually leading to an extra pair scoring in the frame. With the win, the Rays maintain a half-game lead over the Mariners for the first wild card spot and remain seven back of the Yankees in the division.

Toronto Blue Jays 5 (70-58), Chicago Cubs 3 (55-75)

Two of the big money free agent starting pitchers from this past offseason squared off, MLB pitching fWAR leader Kevin Gausman taking on former Blue Jay Marcus Stroman. The former allowed two runs in six innings on five hits against nine strikeouts while the latter went five innings allowing a run on three hits.

The Cubs opened the scoring in the fourth on a Willson Contreras solo shot but the Jays answered back the next inning on an RBI single from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Vladito would end up 3-for-4 on the night, collecting his 27th home run while batting in a pair. Toronto grabbed the lead in the sixth thanks to a three-run bomb from Teoscar Hernández and would not relinquish it despite spirited attempts from exciting Chicago rookie Christopher Morel (2-for-4 with a double, home run, and two RBI). With the victory, the Blue Jays cross the 70-win threshold and maintain a three-game lead over Baltimore for the final wild card spot.

Seattle Mariners 9 (71-58), Detroit Tigers 3 (50-79)

This one saw a matchup of two former top pitching prospects, with Seattle’s George Kirby taking on Detroit’s Matt Manning. The former fared far better, twirling five scoreless innings allowing two hits and a walk against five strikeouts. As for the latter, Manning failed to make it out of the third inning, ultimately with seven runs on seven hits credited to his name. Speaking of that third inning, the Mariners put up six runs via the following hit parade:

Ty France, Carlos Santana, and Cal Raleigh each had a home run and two runs driven in with France going 3-for-4 on the game. Every member of the the Mariners’ starting nine had a hit except Jesse Winker, showing the way playoff contenders are supposed to handle bottom feeders. Detroit broke up the shutout scoring a pair in the eighth and one in the ninth, but the game was long over by that point. The Rays also won, leaving the Mariners a half-game back of the first wild card spot.

Houston Astros 4 (83-47), Texas Rangers 2 (58-70)

In a much tighter affair than was expected, Houston prevailed over their Texas neighbors. Framber Valdez continued his Cy Young-adjacent campaign, allowing two runs in eight innings with eight strikeouts to lower his season ERA to 2.63. Opposition starter Dane Dunning — acquired from the White Sox in the Lance Lynn trade — almost matched Valdez stride for stride, allowing three runs (two earned) in five innings.

Jose Altuve went 2-for-5 with a solo shot while star rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña went 3-for-5. The Rangers scored their two runs on a pair of solo shots from Ezequiel Durán and Bubba Thompson. With the win, the Astros maintain their four game lead over the Yankees for the best record in the AL.

Other Contenders

  • Cleveland Guardians 5 (68-59), Baltimore Orioles 1 (67-61): Cleveland cruised to an easy 5-1 victory on the back of six strong one-hit, one-run innings from Cal Quantrill and a typical lockdown night from arguably the best 1-2-3 punch of relievers in baseball — Trevor Stephan, James Karinchak, and Emmanuel Clase. Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan each drove in a pair to beat Baltimore, 5-1, maintaining Cleveland’s lead atop the AL Central at 1.5 games.
  • Minnesota Twins 10 (67-61), Boston Red Sox 5 (62-68): The Twins jumped out to an early 3-0 lead through the first three innings, but the Red Sox responded with four unanswered runs across the fourth and fifth. The one run Boston lead would prove fleeting, a Nick Gordon grand slam in the fifth inning proving decisive for Minnesota as part of a six-RBI night for the Twins’ second baseman. With the victory, Minnesota move level with Baltimore, three games back of Toronto for the final Wild Card spot.

*Note: For those wondering why we haven’t included the White Sox recap in the roundup, FanGraphs currently places their divisional odds at 8.7 percent and playoff odds at 12.6 percent. They’ve dropped six in a row, sit three games under .500, and are six behind the Guardians in the AL Central. Therefore, we have deemed that they are no longer serious contenders and have eliminated them from this series.