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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Jays keep the pressure on with series win over Giants

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on June 29th.

San Francisco Giants v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Yankees shook off some early-game doldrums yesterday afternoon to erupt for eight runs in the top of the sixth inning against the hapless A’s. It wasn’t a perfect game on the mound this time, but it was arguably another perfect game for the offense. Did they take advantage of not-so-great Oakland pitchers? Yes, but considering how lifeless they looked during Tuesday’s 2-1 loss, you can’t fully turn your nose up at that.

The next step is the Yankees lineup carrying the energy over to St. Louis this weekend. For now, here’s what else went on around the American League.

Detroit Tigers (35-45) 8, Texas Rangers (49-32) 5

The Rangers have now had a couple strange series in a row, as after dropping two of three in the Bronx to a mostly-punchless Yankees ballclub, they were only able to split a four-game home series with the downtrodden Tigers. Detroit won the opener, 7-2, but Texas rebounded with back-to-back wins by a resounding combined 18-5 score.

In the finale, the Tigers played the Rangers tough in a back-and-forth affair. The 1-0 Texas lead was erased in the second on an RBI triple by Jake Marisnick and a go-ahead single from Matt Vierling. Former Baby Bomber Ezequiel Duran continued his excellent first half for Texas with a solo shot to tie it again before 2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson launched a two-run shot to put the Tigers back in front:

An inning later, Leody Taveras brought it back even at 3-3 with a dinger, but the tie didn’t last long. Detroit’s Andy Ibáñez drove Vierling in, and John King needed to work some nifty escape work in relief to strand the bases loaded in a one-run game.

It turned out to be a brief respite because Texas didn’t score in the bottom of the seventh and King got creamed when he came back out for the eighth. Jake Rogers led off with a double, Zach McKinstry plated him with a single, Vierling walked, and Torkelson dropped the hammer for the second time on the afternoon:

Torkelson’s seven homers in June alone are one shy of his total for all of his disappointing rookie season in 2022. Maybe now he’s finally beginning to catch fire.

Tampa Bay Rays (56-28) 6, Arizona Diamondbacks (48-34) 1

The Rays won this round of the 1998 Expansion Showdown that also doubled as a good matchup of two somewhat-surprising division leaders — especially in Arizona’s case. The finale turned out to be a bit of a dud, though. Opener Zack Littell and “bulk guy” Yonny Chirinos were rock solid while shutting the D-backs out until the seventh on three hits.

The Rays’ offense, meanwhile, had no issues with recently recalled D-backs prospect Brandon Pfaadt. Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on a Luke Raley homer in the first, and while Pfaadt threw a scoreless second, he imploded in the third. Check out this sequence, in which the rookie never recorded an out:

- Vidal Bruján double
- Yandy Díaz walk
- Wander Franco triple (3-0, Rays)
- Raley hit by pitch
- Harold Ramírez single (4-0, Rays)
- Isaac Paredes walk
- Josh Lowe single (6-0, Rays)

That will do some damage, and it was more than enough for a pretty easy win. The day only got worse for Arizona when rookie sensation Corbin Carroll had to leave with right shoulder soreness after an at-bat in the fifth (he’s considered day-to-day).

Toronto Blue Jays (45-37) 2, San Francisco Giants (45-36) 1

The story of the Brandon Belt Bowl has been outstanding pitching, and Toronto’s Chris Bassitt saved the best for last. Kevin Gausman might have fanned a dozen over six innings in the series opener, but the one run he allowed came back to hurt him. So Bassitt simply aimed to match most of Gausman’s other stats while not allowing a single Giant to dent home plate at Rogers Centre:

San Francisco starter Keaton Winn deserved a better face in his first big league start, as he surrendered just three hits and one walk across six frames of his own. The problem was that one of those hits was a two-run bomb by newly-confirmed Home Run Derby participant Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The Giants put the tying run on base in the ninth against Jordan Romano and finally scored, but it was to no avail. For all the Yankees’ fireworks of the past couple days, the Blue Jays remain within half a game of New York in the AL East standings. One bad day could still put the Yankees back in fourth place.

Houston Astros (44-37) 14, St. Louis Cardinals (33-47) 0

Ahead of their weekend series against the Yankees, the Cards had a can of whoop-ass opened on them by New York’s biggest nemesis. Adam Wainwright’s final season continued its disastrous descent, as the Houston lineup clobbered in so badly that it made Waino’s recent start in London (seven runs in three innings) look not-so-shabby. The 18-year veteran only recorded five outs while getting pounded for six runs on six hits and three walks; his ERA ballooned to an unsightly 7.45 in 10 starts.

As the clip above indicates, there was no single decisive hit in the Astros rally; just a relentless barrage of walks, singles, and finally doubles to knock Wainwright out. The two-baggers came off the bats of José Abreu and Yainer Diaz, if you’re curious.

Armed with a 6-0 lead, J.P. France got into cruise control and blanked the sluggish Cards through six, allowing just three hits. Kyle Tucker tacked on with a three-run blast against Jake Woodford in the sixth to fully put the game away (everything from then on was just piling on). St. Louis will be licking their wounds when the Yankees roll to town; let’s hope that their NL Central cellar-dwelling ways continue.

Other Games

Chicago White Sox (36-47) 9, Los Angeles Angels (44-39) 7

As Jake alluded yesterday, we knew what would probably happen the moment that we included the Angels in our “Other Games” segment. Shohei Ohtani belted his franchise-record 14th homer of June, but it came with two outs in the ninth of a 9-5 ballgame. The ChiSox scorched Patrick Sandoval for six runs in the third to erase a 4-1 deficit and hand the Halos a disappointing four-game home series split.

Miami Marlins (48-34) 2, Boston Red Sox (40-42) 0

Brayan Bello held the Fish hitless through seven before Jean Segura broke up his no-hit attempt with an infield single on the first pitch of the eighth inning. Since Boston had been blanked to that point as well by Jesús Luzardo and the Marlins’ bullpen, that mean trouble for the Fenway faithful. Two more singles brought Segura around with the game’s first run, and Jazz Chisholm Jr. blasted one 413 feet to dead center in the ninth for insurance. The Marlins swept the Red Sox away to continue their quietly superb start to 2023.

AL Central Rock Fight

Kansas City Royals (23-58) 4, Cleveland Guardians (39-41) 3 (10 innings)

The 40-42 Twins were off yesterday, but we’re relegating the AL Central-only updates to its own section discussing both underwhelming teams because frankly they’re not worth more than a couple sentences combined right now. Cleveland fell back into a first-place tie after blowing leads to the terrible Royals in both the eighth and tenth innings, as despite an awesome straight steal of home by José Ramírez in extras, Emmanuel Clase blew the save on a walk-off, two-run double by Freddy Fermin.