A fairly quiet day it was across MLB, as many teams across the league traveled to their next series, including the Yankees, who sauntered down from the Pacific Northwest to Southern California. While we waited for the anticipated Yankees-Dodgers clash to kick off, we still had some interesting games in the AL, featuring a divisional matchup in Houston and an interleague showdown in Toronto.
Toronto Blue Jays (30-27) 3, Milwaukee Brewers (29-27) 1
The Blue Jays opened this one with a blast before going silent for eight innings. Their run prevention, however, was stellar, making a three-run first stand up as Toronto took two of three from the Brew Crew, who are clinging to a half-game lead over the Pirates in the meek NL Central.
Bo Bichette got things started with a solo shot of Freddy Peralta in the first, his 12th of 2023. Three batters later, Matt Chapman put Toronto up 3-0 a two-run homer of his own:
From there, it was pitching and defense time. Kevin Gausman turned in one of his best starts of the year, shutting out the Brewers over 6.2 innings, striking out 11 while walking one. The right-hander had his trademark splitter working in particular, producing nine whiffs on 15 swings against the pitch.
But Gausman had help in corralling Milwaukee. In the second, Kevin Kiermaier made this sensational grab, preventing an extra-base hit:
A few innings later, Kiermaier was once again down on the turf, robbing Tyrone Taylor of at least a single:
Thanks to Kiermaier and Gausman, the Brewers hardly threatened until the ninth, when Rowdy Tellez led off with a triple and William Contreras walked to bring up the tying run with none out. But Jordan Romano quickly induced a double play to quell the threat, soon securing his 13th save.
Houston Astros (33-23) 5, Los Angeles Angels 2 (30-28)
As is the case with many teams across the majors, the Astros have dealt with pitching injuries. With José Urquidy and Luis Garcia each hitting the IL in the last month, Houston called up minor league lifer Ronel Blanco to make the first big league start of his career. Blanco responded with 5.1 solid innings, holding the Angels to two runs as he picked up his first ever win.
The Angels did ding Blanco early, with two walks and two singles putting a run on the board in the second and loading the bases. But Blanco limited the damage there, and otherwise was mostly in control. He struck out seven and featured a slider with real horizontal run:
The key sequence of the game came in the top of the sixth. The Astros had just taken a 4-2 lead an inning prior thanks to an RBI single from Yainer Diaz and a two-run knock by Alex Bregman, but the Halos were in position to strike back. A couple of singles put two on, and prompted Dusty Baker to pull Blanco in favor of Hector Neris with one down. A Zach Neto single loaded the bases for the top of the Angels order. But Neris struck out Taylor Ward, and jammed Mike Trout with a good fastball in on the hands.
It’s rare to see Trout get a decent-looking swing off, but simply be beaten:
The Angels wouldn’t have as good a chance the rest of the way, as the quality Houston bullpen did its job behind Blanco, with Ryan Pressly working the ninth for his 11th save. For those curious, Shohei Ohtani only managed a 1-for-5 night with two strikeouts.
This one looked like it would be a cinch for Cleveland. A five-run outburst in the sixth had the Guardians up 6-3 entering the eighth, and with a number of high-octane arms in the bullpen, that felt as though it should be plenty for Cleveland to cruise home. But former Yankee farmhand Trevor Stephan yielded an RBI double to Donovan Solano and a crushing game-tying homer to Royce Lewis, and suddenly it was 6-6. Eli Morgan came on for the Guardians in the ninth, and the Twins immediately loaded the bases with none out. Willi Castro lofted one to right for a sac fly and a surprising comeback win at Target Field.
A low-scoring affair gave way to a late-inning explosion from Boston to put the game away, helping them avoid an embarrassing sweep at Fenway. Reds starter Hunter Greene was brilliant, striking out eight and allowing just two hits over six innings of one-run ball. With the game tied at two in the eighth, though, Kevin Herget gave up six runs, with Rafael Devers driving home one with a double, Kiké Hernández singling home two, and Connor Wong hitting a two-run homer. However, the Red Sox couldn’t walk away entirely happy, as Chris Sale exited after 3.2 innings because of an apparent shoulder injury.