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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Guardians stop Astros again, Blue Jays win in extras

Triston McKenzie’s gem in Cleveland was the highlight of the afternoon across the AL.

Houston Astros v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Right now, I think we all need a bit of a reprieve from the Yankees. The good vibes have evaporated, with a five-game losing streak in the works in the moment, including a frustrating sweep in St. Louis. So let’s distract ourselves a bit by running through the rest of the American League action. The Yankees entered play yesterday still clinging to a small lead for the best record in the AL, and perhaps they were able to hold on, even after dropping another to the Cards.

Tampa Bay Rays 7 (58-50) vs. Detroit Tigers 0 (43-67)

This game was a long staring contest, with neither side content to blink before the other. The Rays and Tigers canceled each other out for eight innings, bringing a 0-0 score into the ninth inning.

There, the Rays erupted. Tampa loaded the bases with two outs against Gregory Soto, and Yu Chang ran the count full. Chang took a pitch just off the inside corner to drive in the game’s first run. Soto lost the zone from there, walking Yandy Diaz to force in another. Brandon Lowe drove in two with a single, and Randy Arozarena really opened things up with a two-run double. Just like that, a game that simmered for hours had exploded into a blowout.

Prior to the ninth, Matt Manning had matched a Rays bullpen game. Matt Manning fired seven shutout innings in his fourth start of the year. Drew Rasmussen opened with three shutout for the Rays, and a parade of Tampa relievers silenced the Tigers from there, holding the line until the offense showed.

Houston Astros 0 (70-40) vs. Cleveland Guardians 1 (56-52)

The Astros made an interesting, quiet move at the deadline, swapping starter Jake Odorizzi for reliever Will Smith. It was much like the Yankees’ trade of Jordan Montgomery, where a team saw fit to deal solid starting pitching because of its belief in its pitching depth. Houston’s depth in that area was on display today, as Cristian Javier, nominally the Astros’ fourth or fifth starter, pitched six innings of one-run ball against a good Cleveland lineup.

But he was outdueled on this day by Triston McKenzie, who submitted perhaps the finest start of his young career. The right-hander allowed just two hits across eight shutout innings, walking only one and striking out eight. Both hits came with one out in the second, and McKenzie proceeded to retire 18 consecutive from there. A one-out walk in the eighth stopped the streak, but McKenzie promptly induced an inning-ending double play to conclude his day.

The only blemish on Javier’s day was a solo homer from Luke Maile in the fifth, a tally that McKenzie made stand up. Emmanuel Clase came on to close things out for his 24th and a series split for Cleveland. It’s hard to draw things up better than that; eight brilliant innings from your starter, before turning things over to your All-World closer to apply the finishing touches.

Toronto Blue Jays 3 (60-48) vs. Minnesota Twins 2 (57-51)

Pitchers’ duels really dotted themselves across the American League, with Toronto and Minnesota also locked in a tight contest. The Jays sent out Kevin Gausman, who continued to turn himself around after a midseason slump. Gausman fired six shutout, striking out five and walking none, coming off a start in which he tossed eight shutout innings of one-hit ball.

Gausman outdueled Chris Archer, who managed five innings and two runs allowed. Bo Bichette and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. each drove in a run off Archer, and the Jays took a 2-1 lead into the ninth. But closer Jordan Romano couldn’t hold, hitting Carlos Correa with a pitch and allowing a single to Gary Sánchez to put two on. Luis Arraez drove home Correa to tie things up and send the game to extras

Toronto shook off the setback and scored Whit Merrifield as the zombie runner in the tenth, but not without controversy. Merrifield was ruled out trying score on a Cavan Biggio flyout, but the call was overturned, with Sánchez being ruled to have blocked the plate:

Interestingly, Romano remained in the game after having blown the save, and this time he had the goods. He retired the Twins in order to deliver the Jays a dramatic win, and to bring them within 10 games of the Yankees in the AL East.

Los Angeles Angels 1 (45-61) vs. Seattle Mariners 2 (57-50)

The Angels are possibly the most depressing franchise in the game, particularly now, with Mike Trout hurt again and several of the team’s useful non-Shohei Ohtani players shipped out at the deadline. Among the players Anaheim sent out was closer Raisel Iglesias, who fetched Jesse Chavez and Tucker Davidson from the Braves.

Davidson made his first start for the Angels, and it went sideways. He was crushed for six runs, six hits, and five walks across four innings. That was enough support for Marco Gonzales, Seattle’s ever-dependable fifth starter, who went six innings and held the Angels to three runs.

Jesse Winker did most of the damage for Seattle, crushing a grand slam in the third:

Seattle’s bullpen shut down the Angels in relief of Gonzales as they eased toward a 6-3 win. The Mariners moved to 59-51 and continued to consolidate their grip on the second Wild Card slot in the AL.