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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Rays blast Dodgers in 2020 World Series rematch

It was an action-packed day across the AL, making up for an evening of listless Yankees baseball.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

If you were (un?)fortunate enough to catch last night’s Yankees game on Apple TV, you got to see another listless offensive effort, with the Yankees going down meekly against the Padres. If you tuned in to any of the rest of the action across the AL, well, there was at least some fireworks there. Let’s go through it all, starting with a juicy 2020 World Series rematch:

Los Angeles Dodgers (31-21) 3, Tampa Bay Rays (38-15) 9

For a minute there, the Rays looked as though they were cooling off, as they dropped a couple series and saw their division lead cut to two. No matter, they’ve started to roll again, and they started off the series with LA on the right foot with another excellent offensive effort in a season full of them.

Tampa continues to just wallop opposing pitching staff, blitzing them with power, speed, and aggression. They totaled six extra-base hits and four stolen bases, keeping Noah Syndergaard and the rest of the Dodger staff uncomfortable throughout. Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe drove in runs in the first, and Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco each drove in one of their own in the second to give Tampa a 4-1 lead.

The Dodgers hung in there gamely for the first few innings, with Will Smith singling home a run in the first, and J.D. Martinez doing the same in the third to cut the lead to 4-2, but that was as close as they’d get. Christian Bethancourt smacked an RBI single in the third, and Diaz crushed his 12th dinger of the year for a 6-2 lead in the fourth.

It was smooth sailing from there, as the Rays used an opener/follower game to subdue the Dodgers. Cooper Crispell picked up the win, following Jalen Beeks with four innings of one-run ball. Tampa ultimately used eight pitchers on the day, but the relief corps was sharp enough to limit LA as the Rays cruised to a 9-3 victory.

Toronto Blue Jays (27-25) 3, Minnesota Twins (26-25) 1

The limping Blue Jays sent Kevin Gausman to the mound last night, with the right-hander their clear ace with Alek Manoah getting crushed left and right. Gausman delivered for the most part, working around five walks to hold the Twins to one run over 5.1 innings, good enough to deliver a key win to Toronto.

The Jays scored all their runs over a three-batter span in the third. Kevin Keirmaier continued his resurgent season with a solo homer off Louie Varland to open the scoring. George Springer followed with a double, and Bo Bichette made it 3-0 with a two-run dinger, this tenth of the season.

Toronto was otherwise very quite against Varland and the Twins staff. That gave Minnesota time to try and rally back, and it looked as though they’d get back into the game in the sixth. Gausman issued two walks, and a double from Kyle Garlick got the Twins on the board. Erik Swanson relieved Gausman there, and walked Joey Gallo to load the bases with one out. The Twins couldn’t land the big blow, though, with Swanson retiring Michael A. Taylor and Donovan Solano to extinguish the threat.

Swanson handed things off to Tim Mayza and Nate Pearson, who formed the bridge to stud closer Jordan Romano. The righty closed things out for his 11th save, ensuring the Jays’ losing streak would end at just two.

Houston Astros (29-21) 5, Oakland Athletics (10-43) 2

Another day, another former Yankee pitching prospect thrown to the wolves by Oakland. This time, it was James Kaprelian, who got knocked around by Houston as the Astros continued to power towards the top of the AL.

Kaprelian struggled through a hellish third inning as Houston broke things open early. Jose Altuve doubled, and Yordan Alvarez walked and advanced on a wild pitch. Alex Bregman singled home a run to give Houston a 2-0 lead, and a passed ball pushed home another. Corey Julks with a two-run single, and it was 5-0 Astros.

Kap and the rest of the Oakland staff actually did well fending off the Astros from there, but the damage was done. Hunter Brown, meanwhile, was outstanding, striking out ten and walking one across seven innings. Brown actually shut out the A’s through six, but Seth Brown got to him for a two-run homer in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2. Hector Neris handled the eighth, and Ryan Pressly the ninth for his ninth save.

Texas Rangers (32-18) 12, Baltimore Orioles (33-18) 2

In the bottom of the first inning, Adley Rutchsman hit a solo homer off Jon Gray, his eighth of the year to give Baltimore the early lead. From there, it was all Rangers, as Texas pummeled poor Grayson Rodriguez en route to a blowout victory.

Leody Taveres quickly grabbed the lead for the Rangers with a two-run homer in the second, before things really opened up in the fourth. In the span of seven batters, the Rangers went triple, single, home run, walk, single, error, and grand slam, off the bat of Corey Seager:

Rodriguez was on the mound for all of it, departing after Seager’s homer after 3.1 innings, six hits, nine runs, three walks, and six strikeouts. It’s been a very trying season for the top prospect, as he’s now got a 7.35 ERA across 45.1 innings. The 23-year-old clearly has the stuff for the majors, but he hasn’t looked quite ready for the big time over the last month.

Gray wouldn’t need half as much support as he got, dominating Baltimore after the early Rutchsman dinger, lasting seven innings and striking out eight against just one walk and four hits. The Rangers remain one of the bigger surprises of this 2023 campaign, maintaining a three-game lead in the AL West.

Other Matchups

Pittsburgh Pirates (26-24) 10, Seattle Mariners (26-25) 4

The Marlins have a lot of firepower on their pitching staff, but one of their young guns, George Kirby, faltered against Pittsburgh, getting lit up for seven runs across 4.2 innings. It was an onslaught from the Pirates, with Andrew McCutchen, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Jack Suwinksi, and Carlos Santana all taking Kirby deep. Suwinksi actually notched a second homer off of onetime Yankee prospect Juan Then, while Tucupita Marcano also touched up Then and Bryan Reynolds homered off Chris Flexen, giving the Bucs seven dingers on the night.

Boston Red Sox (27-24) 7, Arizona Diamondbacks (29-22) 2

Yesterday was a step in the right direction for Chris Sale. The veteran was limited to 73 pitches, in part due to the fact that he was reportedly sick earlier in the week, but Sale made his first start on normal rest in over a month and was sharp, holding Arizona to one run over five innings. The Red Sox roughed up rookie Brandon Pfaadt for eight hits and five runs across 3.2 innings, with Enrique Hernandez smashing a two-run homer, and Triston Casas and Alex Verdugo leading the way with 3-for-5 days.

Miami Marlins (26-26) 6, Los Angeles Angels (28-24) 2

Reid Detmers’ breakout season remains on hold. The talented lefty limited the damage against the Marlins, allowing three runs over five, but looked shaky in yielding 12 baserunners. Bryan De La Cruz with 4-for-5 and Jorge Soler hit his 16th homer of the year, his fourth straight game with a dinger, to lead Miami’s offense and bring the Marlins back to .500 on the year.