As is typical, a good chunk of the league was traveling on Thursday, leaving the overall major league slate rather sparse. The Yankees at least grabbed a win, though it was somewhat overshadowed by the awful news that Aaron Judge had to leave the game early. They also saw a few of their rivals take the field, most notably the Rays, looking to continue their red-hot start. Let’s go over it all:
Tampa Bay Rays (21-5) 14, Chicago White Sox (7-19) 5
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an incredibly, easily movable object? You get the Rays stomping the White Sox, the expected result when the league’s top team runs into one of the circuit’s more pathetic outfits right now (see Malachi for more).
If anything, this should’ve been one of Chicago’s better shots at beating Tampa, what with the game taking place in Chicago and with staff ace Dylan Cease on the mound. But the Rays pummeled the right-hander, hanging three on him in the third inning, one in the third, and finally chasing him after four-plus with another three-spot in the fifth.
Young infielder Isaac Paredes led the team with five RBI, while Brandon Lowe drove in three RBI on three hits, including a triple and a homer. Josh Lowe, Luke Raley, and Yandy Diaz all also had three-hit games. It was in support of Shane McClanahan, one of the very best pitchers in the AL this side of Gerrit Cole. It wasn’t McClanahan’s sharpest night, as he was pulled just 73 pitches in after allowing five hits and two walks over five innings. He held Chicago to just two runs, though, which was quite good enough in front of his dominant offense.
What Tampa’s offense is doing to opposing pitchers on a nightly basis is just frightening at this point. The Rays can always be expected to pitch and catch the ball, but a Tampa team that can thump like his is truly a scary sight.
Philadelphia Phillies (13-13) 1, Seattle Mariners (11-14) 0
It wasn’t the starriest pitching matchup, Matt Strahm versus George Kirby, but it proved to be a pitchers’ duel. The Phillies got the game’s only run early, with Nick Castellanos singling off Kirby in the bottom of the second, and then scoring Kody Clemens’ RBI single. An underrated electric baseball play, scoring from first on a single:
Kirby was otherwise flat-out excellent. The 25-year-old hardly gave up any hard contact other than the Castellanos and Clemens knocks, cruising through eight strong innings. He would yield four hits and walk just one against seven strikeouts.
Yet Kirby would earn a loss for his complete-game effort. Strahm continued to look like one of the better low-profile free agent signings from this winter, tossing 5.1 shutout while striking out five and allowing just two Mariners to reach base, lowering his ERA to 2.31 in the process.
The Philadelphia bullpen did its job in relief of Strahm, with Seranthony Domínguez, Connor Brogdon, and Gregory Soto piecing together the bridge to nominal closer Craig Kimbrel, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save. It was a bit of a contrast, with five men combining to hold down Seattle as just Kirby himself worked through the entire game, but it proved effective for the Phillies.
Baltimore Orioles (17-8) 7, Detroit Tigers (9-15) 4: It looked for a moment like the Tigers might take one off Baltimore here. Young starter Joey Wentz had one of the better starts of his career, holding the Orioles to two runs over 5.2 innings while striking out six. Detroit led 4-2 after six, but Chasen Shreve gave it all away in the seventh. Cedric Mullins tripled home two to tie the game, and Anthony Santander’s home run put the O’s up 7-4, giving them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Minnesota Twins (15-11) 7, Kansas City Royals (6-20) 1: The Twins’ handling of the Yankees this season and control of the AL Central has encouraged us to add them to “Other Matchups,” where Cleveland will now reside as well until an obvious frontrunner emerges. Even at home, the lowly Royals didn’t give them much of a test, as Minnesota jumped on Zack Greinke for seven runs in just 3.2 innings, backed by homers from Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Starter Tyler Mahle was removed after four innings with “right posterior elbow soreness” though, so that will be something to watch.