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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros drop fourth straight, Blue Jays melt down in Texas

The defending champs are wobbling, while the Padres held off the Rays in San Diego.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It was an ugly weekend for the Yankees, with a doubleheader sweep in Boston leading to series sweep at the hands of their archrivals. I suppose that means it’s as good a time as ever to catch up on the rest the league. There was plenty of interesting action on Sunday that featured the Yankees’ other rivals. Let’s work through it all:

San Diego Padres (34-36) 5, Tampa Bay Rays (51-23) 4

A matchup between the preseason darlings, the Padres, and the actual season darlings, the Rays, lived up to its billing. Tampa and San Diego played an entertaining three-game set, with the Padres holding off the Rays in the finale to take two of three.

Joe Musgrove provided six nominally strong innings for the Padres, though the shape of the start was unusual. Musgrove fanned just one, and the Rays had traffic on the basepaths throughout the outing, but the right-hander continually danced his way out of trouble. A Josh Lowe RBI single in the second and Manuel Margot sac fly in the fourth were the only blemishes on Musgrove’s line.

The Padres had more success actually pushing runs across against Yonny Chirinos. They took the lead thanks to a three-run third, with two runs scoring on a Juan Soto fielder’s choice thanks to a Wander Franco error, and another run coming via a Manny Machado sac fly. Rougned Odor doubled home a run in the fourth, and Machado picked up another RBI with a single in the fifth to put San Diego up 5-2.

They would only just cling to that lead. In all, Tampa put 16 runners on base in the game, but all were via singles, walks, or HBP’s. The Rays couldn’t quite get that big hit that put the Padres on the mat, but they consistently threatened.

Tampa almost landed the blow in the eighth. The Rays managed to string together four singles off Nick Martinez to plate two and put two on with one out. Christian Bethancourt then singled to right, and the Rays seemed on their way to evening the contest. Fernando Tatis Jr. had other plans:

Tatis Jr.’s laser throw gunned down Margot at the plate to preserve the narrow margin. The Padres would escape the inning, and Josh Hader would lock down the ninth for a tight 5-4 win.

Texas Rangers (44-27) 8, Toronto Blue Jays (39-34) 7

The Blue Jays just can’t get it all working at once right now. Toronto stayed consistently inconsistent, blowing an early lead as the ever-persistent Rangers took two of three in Texas.

It looked as though the Jays would be celebrating a series win early on, as they jumped all over starter Jon Gray. Leading 1-0 in the second, Toronto loaded the bases with two out, where Whit Merrifield singled two home and Bo Bichette tallied two more with a double. The Jays put two more on in the third against Gray, who was finally removed, and finished with a line of 2.1 innings and six runs as Toronto led 6-0 after the top of the third.

But Texas immediately battered Chris Bassitt right back. Two runs scored on a Josh Jung single in the bottom of the third to get the Rangers on the board. Corey Seager doubled home two more in the next frame, and Adolis García followed with an RBI single to chase Bassitt after just 3.2 innings and with the Toronto lead down to 6-5.

The Rangers kept attacking, with Jonah Heim knotting the score at six in the fifth with a solo shot, and Leody Taveras and Marcus Semien driving in runs later in the inning to push in front. Texas’ lineup is just relentless at the moment, posing problems to opposing pitchers from the top to the bottom of the card.

Toronto’s bats went quiet after Gray departed, tallying just three hits against the Texas bullpen. Taveras went deep in the seventh to give the Rangers some insurance as they eased to the victory. They now sit 4.5 games clear in the AL West.

Baltimore Orioles (44-27) 6, Chicago Cubs (33-38) 3

With a number of their top producers down, the Orioles gutted out a win in Chicago to avoid a sweep. Baltimore managed to mostly silence the Cubs’ bats and knocked around Jameson Taillon despite missing Cedric Mullins II, Ryan Mountcastle, and Gunnar Henderson.

Starter Dean Kremer made a couple mistakes, with Mike Tauchman hitting a solo homer, his first of the season, in the first, and Christopher Morel going deep for a two-run job in the fourth. Otherwise, the Cubs could do next to nothing, with Baltimore’s sensational bullpen completely shutting down Chicago once Kremer departed. Danny Coulombe, Mike Baumann, Yennier Cano, and Félix Bautista combined for four perfect innings with four strikeouts.

Anthony Santander hit his tenth homer of the year, Ramon Urías drove in a pair, and Aaron Hicks continued to produce post-Yankees, going 2-for-3 with a double. Taillon exited after 5.1 innings of eight-hit, four-run ball, taking another loss in what’s been a trying year for him.

Cincinnati Reds (37-35) 9, Houston Astros (39-33) 7 (ten innings)

Don’t look now, but the Reds are turning into a story out in the NL Central. The young Cincinnati club has rolled off eight straight, sweeping away the Astros. Houston has now dropped four in a row, and is on shaky ground as they drift back in a crowded AL West race.

The Astros were in fine position initially, doing damage against journeyman starter Luke Weaver. Houston led 5-2 heading into the sixth, where starter Ronel Blanco finally ran into trouble. Jake Fraley knocked an RBI single (he went 2-for-4 with a dinger in his return from the IL), and Spencer Steeler smashed a two-run homer to tie the game five.

Jonathan India hit a solo homer in the eighth to give the Reds a 6-5 lead, but Houston hung in there and tied in the ninth of Ian Gibaut to send the game to extras. There, Cincinnati left little doubt, scoring three runs off Seth Martinez in the top of the tenth, with Alex Young recording his first save in the bottom half of the frame.

Houston looks to be in a pretty similar position to the Yankees right now. They have identical records, both clubs have an All-World slugger on the IL right now, and Houston’s seen starters Luis García, Lance McCullers Jr., and Jose Urquidy deal with injuries, while the Yankees have of course had to put four-fifths of their projected rotation on the IL at points this year. Neither is out of it by any means, but the AL’s top teams from last season are wobbling as we near the season’s halfway point.

Other Games

  • Detroit Tigers (30-40) 6, Minnesota Twins (36-36) 4: There just can’t be an above .500 team in the AL Central. Detroit hung a fifth-inning five-spot on Louie Varland and the Twins, with Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carptenter both going deep. The Tigers deployed a bullpen game, and seven relievers did enough to hold off the Twins and take the series.
  • Cleveland Guardians (33-38) 12, Arizona Diamondbacks (43-29) 3: The Guardians, one of the worst offensive clubs in baseball this year, had a rare outburst against Zach Davies and the D-Backs. Cleveland hung nine runs on Davies over 3.2 innings, and led 12-1 after the top of the fifth. Josh Naylor and Steven Kwan each drove in three, while Kwan, José Ramírez, and Andrés Giménez all tallied triples for Cleveland. Tanner Bibee picked up the win with five innings of three-run ball.
  • Seattle Mariners (35-35) 5, Chicago White Sox (31-42) 1: It’s been an uneven season in Seattle so far, but sometimes, the plan works. They’re a team built on great young pitching, and on Sunday, talented right-hander Bryce Miller delivered with seven innings of one-run ball. He was outdid in some ways, though, by Chicago veteran Lance Lynn, who dazzled with 16 strikeouts over seven innings of two-run ball. Lynn was the tough luck loser, as Julio Rodriguez drove in three and Jarred Kelenic drove in two to do enough to down the White Sox.