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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: O’s make statement against the Rays

It was another beneficial day for the Yankees, as their sweep of Oakland was accompanied by a few losses by their rivals.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There’s no such thing as a must-win game in May, and there’s definitely no such thing as a must-sweep series in May, but boy did it feel like the Yankees had to sweep away Oakland this week, just to stabilize things and hopefully claw some ground back in the standings. On Tuesday, the Yankees were able to climb a bit with many of their rivals slipping. How did things go on Wednesday?

Baltimore Orioles (24-13) 2, Tampa Bay Rays (29-9) 1

This turned out to be a taut, well-contested between a pair of seemingly pretty strong teams. The Orioles just prevailed in the end on Wednesday night, securing a nice series win for the young up-and-comers over MLB’s top team.

Dean Kremer led the way, tossing six shutout innings against a Tampa lineup that had hardly ever been tamed ahead of this series. Baltimore struggled equally with the opener/follower combo of Jalen Beeks and Yonny Chirinos, failing to score through five. Finally, they strung together a few against Chirinos in the sixth, with Adam Frazier bringing home a run on a groundout, and Austin Hays singling another home for a 2-0 lead.

The Rays got one back in the eighth, when wunderkind Wander Franco lined and RBI single, and threatened for more when Franco stole second. That would be their last chance, though, as Harold Ramírez grounded out, and Yennier Cano came on to mow the Rays down in the ninth for his third save.

Philadelphia Phillies (18-19) 2, Toronto Blue Jays (21-16) 1

Tuesday’s matchup had the look of a pitcher’s duel, Aaron Nola vs. Alek Manoah, yet it didn’t deliver. The real pitcher’s duel ended up as Zack Wheeler vs. Kevin Gausman. Wheeler went seven strong, allowing just three hits, one walk, and one run, striking out seven. Gausman was just as excellent, shutting out Philadelphia over six innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine against zero walks.

The only damage against either of the starters came off the bat of Brandon Belt, who took Wheeler deep in the fifth inning:

Yimi García and Erik Swanson did quality setup work to get the ball to Jordan Romano with a 1-0 lead, but the Phillies broke out at last. Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos singled to lead off the ninth, and while Romano bounced back to strike out Kyle Schwarber, JT Realmuto lined a frozen rope over left fielder Daulton Varsho’s head to tie the game.

The Phillies couldn’t end the game there, but Craig Kimbrel stranded the zombie runner in the 10th, and Philly walked it off on a wild play:

With that, the Phillies secured a sweep of Toronto, allowing the Yankees to gain on their Canadian rivals.

Houston Astros (19-18) 5, Los Angeles Angels (20-18) 4

This looked like it would be an easy Houston victory, thanks to a stellar start from Cristian Javier. The 26-year-old set his season high for strikeouts, fanning 11 Angels over the course of six innings of three-hit, two-run ball. The Astros were all over Javier’s counterpart, Griffin Canning, with Yordan Alvarez going deep in the first for his eighth of the season:

The Astros later hung a fourth-inning four-spot on the Canning, who exited after 3.2 innings down 5-2.

Javier and the Houston bullpen seemed to have everything under control from there, with Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu capably handling the seventh and eighth innings to deliver the lead to Ryan Pressly in the ninth. That’s where it all teetered, as after Mike Trout led off with a single, Shohei Ohtani crushed his eighth dinger of the year:

The next two batters singled, giving the Angels a prime chance to swipe the game from Houston. But Pressly buckled down at last, retiring the next three batters to avoid disaster and push the Astros above .500.

Other Matchups

Detroit Tigers (17-19) 5, Cleveland Guardians (17-20) 0

For as much as the Yankee lineup has struggled at times in 2023, at least they aren’t the Guardians. Cleveland was shut out at the hands of Eduardo Rodriguez and the Tigers, with Cleveland now sporting a cumulative .276 wOBA. E-Rod continued his resurgence by striking out eight and allowing four hits over seven innings. Peyton Battenfield took the loss for the Guardians, as his teammates did very little batting or fielding of note.

Boston Red Sox (22-16) 5, Atlanta Braves (25-12) 2

Boston’s had a surprisingly strong start, though it’s been no thanks to their starting pitching; Boston starters entered Wednesday with a horrid 6.10 ERA, third worst in baseball. If they can get more starts like they did from Brayan Bello against the Braves, they’ll be in business. Bello turned in the rare Boston quality start, striking out five Braves over six innings of two-run ball. The Sox couldn’t get much going early, and the game was 2-2 going into the seventh, but Boston pulled away from there, scoring three runs over the final three frames to take the game and split the two-game set. Kenley Jansen earned his 400th career save in the process, joining Mariano Rivera as one of seven closers to reach that plateau.

Minnesota Twins (20-17) 4, San Diego Padres (19-18) 3 (11)

The Padres dropped another tough one in what’s been a frustrating start for one of the NL’s favorites. The two sides went to extras tied at two, and the Padres were able to get the zombie runner home, only for the Twins to tie the game at three on Donovan Solano’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th. Griffin Jax was able to hold San Diego scoreless in the 11th, setting the stage for Alex Kirilloff’s walk-off single:

Texas Rangers (22-14) 4, Seattle Mariners (18-19) 3

It’s two steps forward, two steps back for Seattle these days. After looking strong and taking a series from Houston, the Mariners failed to win the series with Texas, dropping the rubber match with ace Luis Castillo on the mound. Texas did most of their damage in the third off Castillo, thanks to a Marcus Semien solo shot and RBI doubles from Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe. The Rangers sit three games clear of LA in the AL West.