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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Top AL East foes remain relentless

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on June 25th.

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/Getty Images

I don’t really know how the Yankees managed to win that weekend series against the Rangers with their offense looking so paltry, but they managed to get it done with a nail-biting 1-0 win on Saturday and a surprising comeback victory yesterday. Gerrit Cole looked shaky early on and the lineup failed to capitalize against a similarly meh Nathan Eovaldi. Wouldn’t you know it? They had a rally in their bones after all. I might be surprised, but I will take it regardless!

Here’s what else went on around the top American League action on Sunday.

Baltimore Orioles (47-29) 3, Seattle Mariners (37-39) 2

Saturday afternoon offered quite a bit of theatrics in O’s/M’s, but there was only lead change on Sunday. It was mostly a pitchers’ duel between Baltimore’s Kyle Bradish and Seattle’s George Kirby. The Mariners got the early edge on Bradish with a booming, two-run blast from Cal Raleigh down the right-field line to Eutaw Street:

Unfortunately for the M’s, that was their final hit until the ninth inning, by which time Bradish had spun seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out seven.

It didn’t take long for Baltimore to get those runs back, as Kirby coughed up a two-run shot to Anthony Santander in the third. The go-ahead run wasn’t really Kirby’s fault, however. He did walk Jorge Mateo with one out in the fifth, but Anthony Bemboom found no-man’s land and Seattle kicked the ball around a bit, allowing Mateo to score:

Baltimore wouldn’t score again, but with Seattle’s offense failing to muster much of anything, that was enough. In the ninth, Félix Bautista atoned for his blown save yesterday by absolutely blowing the M’s away for the series victory.

Toronto Blue Jays (43-36) 12, Oakland Athletics (20-60) 1

The Jays might’ve taken one on the chin in the series opener on Friday, but they came back with a fury over the last two days. They turned the A’s away on Saturday, 7-3, before quickly opening up a 4-0 lead yesterday on former Yankees farmhand Luis Medina. George Springer moved into second place to Rickey Henderson on the all-time leadoff home run list, and some sloppy A’s baseball (Medina wild pitch, Esteury Ruiz error) made it a four-run game.

On the mound, Yusei Kikuchi was nearly untouchable. Tony Kemp got him for a solo shot in the sixth, but that was one of just two hits allowed in seven brilliant innings with eight strikeouts. Toronto tacked on several more against another Baby Bomber alum, Ken Waldichuk, and the final was 12-1, Toronto. They remain just half a game back of the Yankees, though they are also idle today.

Tampa Bay Rays (54-27) 3, Kansas City Royals (22-56) 1

Kansas City came closer to taking three out of four at the Trop than anyone in St. Pete would care to admit. Although Tyler Glasnow’s stuff looked devastating for the Rays while striking out 12 Royals, he left after five innings and 89 pitches with the score still just 1-1.

KC tallied its run on a single by Bobby Witt Jr., a stolen base, and an RBI single from Maikel Garcia. On the other side, the Rays had put seven men on against Daniel Lynch, but the only player to score was Jose Siri, who hit a solo shot in the third.

But it all came apart for the Royals in the seventh with Taylor Clarke on the bump. Siri walked, and an infield single Yandy Díaz combined with an error by Witt to put two men in scoring position. Wander Franco was intentionally walked, and Clarke uncorked a wild pitch to bring the go-ahead run across. A sacrifice fly plated an insurance run, and with the Royals unable to seriously threaten against Jason Adam or Pete Fairbanks, that was the ballgame.

Houston Astros (42-36) 6, Los Angeles Dodgers (43-34) 5 (11 innings)

The Dodgers had a chance to sweep the Astros in what would’ve been a gratifying series for the fans at Chavez Ravine, and Mookie Betts got them off on the right foot with a leadoff bomb against Houston starter Hunter Brown. But the rookie was tough as nails from then on, allowing just two more hits and no further runs, and the Astros ended up taking this one in extras.

Tony Gonsolin gave back the 1-0 lead in a hurry, as Jeremy Peña crushed a 418-foot homer in the top of the second that also plated Chas McCormick.

Next, it was José Abreu’s turn to play long ball, as he took Gonsolin yard in the fourth for just his fifth homer of 2023. The Astros had a 4-1 lead, and with Brown now cruising, it was a breezy affair before handing it over to the Houston bullpen.

The Astros’ relief corps didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Rafael Montero got two outs in the eighth before plunking Betts and allowing an RBI double to Freddie Freeman, the 2,000th hit of the six-time All-Star’s standout career. The big blow came when Will Smith walloped a 3-2 pitch to dead center, tying the game:

Both sides were turned away in the ninth, and both sides also cashed in their zombie runner in the 10th. Alex Bregman did the job for Houston in the 11th with an immediate RBI single, and this time, Seth Martinez put the Dodgers away.

Other Games

Minnesota Twins (40-39) 6, Detroit Tigers (33-43) 3

The Tigers had a 3-2 lead late in this one before they demonstrated why they’re the weakest current AL Central “contender” (all disrespect intended for the Royals). They got a two-out grounder to escape a jam in the eighth, only for third baseman Phil Maton to throw it away. The Twins tied it, and in extras, they throttled rookie Brendan White for three runs on three hits to take the series in Detroit.

Milwaukee Brewers (40-37) 5, Cleveland Guardians (37-40) 4 (10 innings)

Doubles from Christian Yelich and Owen Miller off Aaron Civale had propelled the Brew Crew to 4-1 lead through five, but Andrés Giménez brought Cleveland right back into the game with an RBI triple and run scored on a wild pitch. Will Brennan tied it up with a single, and in the eighth, Cleveland looked ready to seize the lead. A controversial interference call, however, stymied the rally, and in the 10th, Miller doubled in the zombie runner to put Milwaukee ahead. Elvis Peguero struck out José Ramírez and Josh Naylor while securing the save, knocking Cleveland back to two games behind Minnesota with a series loss. (The Brewers are half a game back of the Reds in the NL Central.)

Chicago White Sox (34-45) 4, Boston Red Sox (40-39) 1

Blame Chicago’s team-wide struggles for it, but Luis Robert Jr. has very quietly had a terrific season for the Pale Hose. With two more dingers on Sunday to pace the ChiSox to a 4-1 win and series victory over Boston, Robert moved into second place in the AL in homers behind only Shohei Ohtani. He has 21 dingers to go along with a 139 wRC+ that should launch the 25-year-old to his first career All-Star Game.