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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Verlander drops zeroes on Guardians

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on August 4th.

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Yankees and Mariners were off yesterday after the conclusion of their three-game set in the Bronx on Wednesday, but the rest of the primary American League foes were in action, including at least one matchup of possible playoff opponents. Here’s how they did.

Houston Astros 6 (69-38), Cleveland Guardians 0 (54-51)

The Guardians have some strong hitters in their lineup like José Ramírez, Josh Naylor, and Andrés Giménez, but I don’t think there was ever any doubt about the outcome of this game because it was the pitching matchup was Justin Verlander against Zach Plesac. Sometimes, you can predict baseball, Suzyn:

Verlander threw six shutout innings of two-hit ball, and the only upset was that there were only five strikeouts. In doing so, he secured his $25 million player option for 2023. Meanwhile, the ever-dangerous Astros lineup blistered Plesac for four runs on seven hits and five walks in just 4.1 innings. It was a rare big night for light-hitting catcher Martín Maldonado, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI.

Tampa Bay Rays 6 (56-49), Detroit Tigers 2 (42-65)

The Tigers are something awful in 2022, and not even a scuffling Rays team that is 4-8 in the second half could find a way to lose to Drew Hutchison. Brandon Lowe got the scoring started with a two-run shot in the third, and while the Tigers punched back by scraping a couples runs together off Jeffrey Springs, that was the end of their production for the night.

The very next inning, Lowe was at it again with the go-ahead single, and Hutchison threw a wild pitch to make it 4-2, Tampa. Tack-on RBI hits by Randy Arozarena in the seventh and ninth iced this easy win for the Rays.

Toronto Blue Jays 9 (59-46), Minnesota Twins 3 (55-50)

Sonny Gray threw one-hit shutout ball and his team lost, 9-3. Baseball’s funny like that, but in this case, his 5 walks and 96 pitches through 5 didn’t exactly help him stay in the game. Although he briefly held a 1-0 lead thanks to bases-loaded hit by pitch from Alek Manoah, the Toronto All-Star ended Minnesota’s fourth-inning rally right there. So when Gray turned a 1-0 lead over to the Twins’ suspect bullpen, there probably wasn’t much optimism about it.

Sure enough, Teoscar Hernández tied it up with a solo shot off Emilio Pagán just one out into the sixth, and Toronto took the lead on RBI knocks by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and the now-vaccinated Whit Merrifield in his Blue Jays debut. Minnesota got one run back in the home half, but the Jays effectively ended this one in the eighth with six runs off Trevor Megill and Tyler Duffey. The rally was capped by a 115.4-mph howitzer of a three-run blast from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

In case you’re wondering, no, neither the Twins or Guardians lost any meaningful ground because the White Sox also lost on Thursday (3-2 to the Rangers). The AL Central looks like this:

  1. Minnesota Twins (55-50)
  2. Cleveland Guardians (54-51), 1 GB
  3. Chicago White Sox (53-52), 2 GB

The Rays are holding the last Wild Card spot and they would be leading the Twins in that division. The Orioles would be equal with the Guardians at one game back. Great division, huh?