It was a big day for daytime baseball across MLB, as the Yankees finally righted the ship in their series finale with the Twins. While New York put up a dozen runs in their Wednesday matinee, two of their rivals were playing in parallel, and that’s where we start our daily recap of the American League playoff favorites.
Toronto Blue Jays (16-9) 8, Chicago White Sox (7-18) 0
Capping off a sweep of the South Siders, the Blue Jays’ big bats were off and running early. Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. combined for three RBI in the third inning, with a run-scoring single and two-run double respectively. Michael Kopech could only notch four strikeouts in his five innings of work, eventually charged with four earned runs.
Unsatisfied with just the RBI single though, Bo stepped to the plate in the tack-on portion of the game:
Meanwhile, Yusei Kikuchi continued to burnish his early case for Comeback Player of the Year. 5.2 innings of shutout ball lowered his ERA on the season to 3.00, and while there are early indicators that that might be slowing down — a depressed strikeout rate leading to a FIP almost two runs higher — he’s been as effective as anyone in baseball to start the year. The White Sox had no answer for his slider in particular, whiffing 42 percent of the time against the pitch.
Cleveland Guardians (12-13) 4, Colorado Rockies (8-18) 1
The story of the game is rookie Tanner Bibee, making his MLB debut. The Guardians’ fifth-ranked prospect, 59th overall per MLB Pipeline, was called up after just 28 MiLB starts, pitching into the sixth with eight strikeouts against just a single run.
Kris Bryant knocked in the only run against Bibee, an RBI single in the sixth inning as the rookie began to run out of gas. Like Kikuchi, the right-hander’s slider was his star pitch, but both the breaking ball and his changeup befuddled Rockies hitters, with a CSW% — called strikes plus whiffs — above 35 percent.
Josh Naylor had the big hit in the game, a two-run home run in the first that gave his rookie starter an early cushion to work with.
Houston Astros (14-11) 1, Tampa Bay Rays (20-5) 0
I am thankful for the Houston Astros???????
I’m not, really, but at least the Yankees’ primary rival managed to take two of three from New York’s primary threat for the division, albeit by the skin of their teeth. Their sole run of the game came on Wander Franco’s fielding error, one almost entirely caused by the shortstop having such small feet.
Hunter Brown took care of the rest, pitching a seven-inning shutout with just four Rays reaching base to win his third game of the year. Calvin Faucher and Josh Fleming, two people that are absolutely real and totally not The Show stock characters, actually pitched well in their own eight piggyback innings, but Franco’s bobble was just enough to seal the Rays’ first series loss of the season.
Philadelphia Phillies (12-13) 6, Seattle Mariners (11-13) 5
The total opposite of Astros/Rays, this game got on you in a hurry.
If you were late to Citizens Bank Park, or pulled into a meeting and missed first pitch, you might have missed a lot. Nick Castellanos’ third home run of the year put Philadelphia up early, before J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodríguez went back-to-back a half inning later to plate five in a huge second inning for the Mariners.
After that explosive start, though, the Mariners would struggle to push across any more. They were able to get a man on in every inning but one, but just could not come up with any more extra-base hits to push the lead any further. Meanwhile, Kyle Schwarber and Castellanos both had run-scoring singles to close the deficit to one.
That inability to tack on would end up being the Mariners’ downfall. The normally-dependable bullpen buckled in the eighth inning, where J.T. Realmuto tied the game with a base hit, and Alec Bohm put the Phils ahead for good.
Baltimore Orioles (16-8) 6, Boston Red Sox (13-13) 2: The O’s run continues. Cedric Mullins and Ramon Urías combined for six hits and Anthony Santander had a two-sac-fly day, one of my fave weird little statlines for a player. Masataka Yoshida was the big stick for the Red Sox, hitting his third home run in four games in an otherwise listless performance.