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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Rays keep pressure on by beating Boston

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on September 6th.

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Yankees were rained out last night in the Bronx, setting up a doubleheader against the Twins today. The rest of the American League pretty active, though, so here’s what happened with their potential playoff rivals.

Tampa Bay Rays 8 (76-58), Boston Red Sox 4 (67-70)

The bad weather in New York allowed the Rays to gain half a game on the Yankees, as they took care of business at the Trop against the Red Sox. Boston had a chance for a moment in the second, when recently-promoted rookie Triston Casas belted his first career homer to help Boston counter Randy Arozarena’s three-run bomb. That cut Tampa’s lead to 3-2, but the perhaps-finally-toast Rich Hill couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Manuel Margot and Arozarena led off the third with a single and double, respectively, and Harold Ramírez promptly plated them both to give the Rays a three-run lead. It was never close again, as the Rays used Johnny Wholestaff (six different pitchers) in place of the paternity-listed Drew Rasmussen to shut down the Red Sox offense until the eighth, by which time Christian Bethancourt and Yu Chang had belted back-to-back homers and Tampa was up, 8-2.

Tommy Pham’s two-run shot in the eighth was ultimately meaningless and Jason Adam closed out the Red Sox in the ninth to move the Rays within 4.5 games of the Yankees. Regardless of how the Rays and Red Sox fare tonight, New York can get that half-game back with a doubleheader sweep, but those are easier said than done (even against the Twins).

Baltimore Orioles 9 (72-64), Toronto Blue Jays 6 (75-60)

Speaking of doubleheader sweeps, if the Orioles had any hope of hanging in the Wild Card race after suffering one at the hands of Toronto on Monday, they needed to stand their ground at home today. At the start, it was more of the same, with the Jays jumping ahead, 3-0, on the strength of a three-run blast by Bo Bichette, his fourth in his previous six at-bats. However, the O’s stormed back with five runs off Mitch White in the third, capped by an RBI hit from rookie Gunnar Henderson.

Toronto got back to within one and tensions were pretty high in the seventh, when Brayan Baker’s strikeout of Chapman set off some fiery words between the two bird teams’ benches:

Per reporter Joe Trezza’s best guess, this had been the result of simmering frustrations from the Jays toward both the O’s and the umpiring crew, so it seems like things just boiled over. No punches were thrown, and an inning after play resumed, Baltimore put this one to bed with a three-run eighth that featured one of the best slides you’ll ever see by former Yankee Rougned Odor.

Félix Bautista gave up just his second run in the past month but still threw two solid innings to close it out. The Orioles now sit 3.5 games behind the Blue Jays for the final spot in the Wild Card chase and can at least cut their deficit back to what it was before this four-game set began at 2.5 with another big win tonight.

Texas Rangers 4 (59-76), Houston Astros 3 (87-49)

Hey, the Rangers actually beat the Astros for once! They’ve gone a miserable 20-45 against their interstate rivals since the start of 2019, but Texas registered win No. 21 on Wednesday night. Although former Baby Bomber Glenn Otto was thoroughly whatever for Texas with three runs allowed in four innings (albeit one unearned on catcher’s interference), his bullpen backed him up with five shutout frames of Houston offense. That enabled the Rangers to weather the loss of their early 3-0 lead and score the go-ahead run in the seventh on a bases-loaded walk off Framber Valdez. It might have been all that the ‘pen got, but it was all that it needed, as Matt Moore and José Leclerc no-hit the Astros over the final 2.1 innings.

For those still keeping the faith, the Astros’ loss cut the Yankees’ deficit on the No. 1 seed to 5.5 games.

Seattle Mariners 3 (77-59), Chicago White Sox 0 (68-68)

The Mariners are just playing really well lately. Logan Gilbert was electric against the White Sox on Tuesday night, firing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts in a game that didn’t feature much support. Veteran Johnny Cueto didn’t make it easy for Gilbert or Seattle, as the only run he gave up in six frames of his own came on a sacrifice fly. Still, Gilbert blew Chicago away:

It took until the bottom of the eighth, but Cal Raleigh finally gave Seattle some insurance with a two-run missile off Reynaldo López. That all but ensured a stress-free save for Paul Sewald, who clinched the Mariners’ 15th win in their last 20 games. They remain tied with the Rays for the top Wild Card spot (and also 4.5 back of New York if that becomes a factor).

Other Contenders

  • Cleveland Guardians 4 (70-64), Kansas City Royals 1 (55-82): The Twins’ top division rival gained a half-game on them, too, as Shane Bieber kept the Royals off the scoreboard over eight innings of work outside of a Salvador Perez solo shot. Cleveland got on the board with a two-run single by José Ramírez in the third, and that was all they really needed to move 1.5 games up in the AL Central (and three up on Chicago).