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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Rays rally to split Fenway doubleheader

Saturday was jam-packed with American League action.

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images

Other than Gerrit Cole cramping up after the sixth, the Yankees couldn’t ask for a much more encouraging win last night at Dodger Stadium. They got contributions from the familiar (Aaron Judge, who homered and made a terrific catch), unfamiliar (Jake Bauers, who clubbed two homers), and fresh from the airport (Oswaldo Cabrera, who went deep as well). Take the win!

The Rays and Red Sox were rained out on Friday night and subsequently played a doubleheader yesterday, so we’ll start with them.

Boston Red Sox (30-27) 8, Tampa Bay Rays (40-19) 5 [Game 1]

There was an interesting confluence of events at the Red Sox/Rays matinee, as Boston fell into a hole early thanks to some shaky pitching from Garrett Whitlock. The former Yankees farmhand allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in 4.2 innings of work, putting the Red Sox behind, 4-0. Yandy Díaz provided a two-run double as part of the rally but a poorly-timed error by Kiké Hernández didn’t help matters.

It looked like it would be another listless performance from the BoSox until the Rays ran into a bump in the road with their bullpen game plan. Trevor Kelley, Joe La Sorsa, Kevin Kelly, and Cooper Criswell each generally did their jobs. Jalen Beeks did not play along. The southpaw who actually debuted with Boston in 2018 got lit up in the sixth to the tune of six runs on four hits and two walks—all while recording just two outs. The biggest hit was a two-bagger from Justin Turner that cleared the bases, putting the Red Sox ahead.

Masataka Yoshida followed Turner with a double of his own, and Jarren Duran drove in Yoshida to make it a 7-4 ballgame. Unlike Whitlock, the Red Sox bullpen did a good job of quieting the Rays’ bats, including an inning from the recently-demoted Corey Kluber, who was working in relief in a regular season game for the first time since 2013. Kenley Jansen closed the door for his 403rd career save.

Tampa Bay Rays (41-18) 4, Boston Red Sox (30-28) 2 [Game 2]

This was a tie ballgame at 2-2 in the ninth, with Tyler Glasnow and the Rays bullpen yielding only one earned run on five hits. Against Red Sox reliever Ryan Sherriff, Jose Siri put Tampa Bay in front with an RBI double down the left-field line in the sixth, but a rare Rays fielding mistake brought this back to even.

It looked like the end of an easy inning when Colin Poche got Rafael Devers to pop up with one on in the seventh. Then the ball kept moving on Brandon Lowe and he dropped it.

Running with two outs, Connor Wong scored the tying run.

As noted earlier, this was a tie game in the ninth, so Alex Cora called on Jansen for his second outing of the day to preserve the tie. It didn’t work. Francisco Mejia and Díaz led off with singles and one out later, Harold Ramírez scored ‘em both by splitting the outfielders in right on a two-run double.

But the long day wasn’t over yet. With one out to go, Jason Adam caused problems by plunking Devers and walking Yoshida to put the tying runs on. Duran lifted a shallow fly to center that took a terrific play from Siri to end it.

Houston Astros (35-23) 9, Los Angeles Angels (30-30) 6

It appears that we have reached that special time in the season when any early-season optimism about the Angels—however brief it may have been—goes down in flames at the hands of the Astros. The Halos dropped their third game in a row in Houston and now must win tomorrow to avoid both a four-game sweep and falling below .500 for the first time since April 24th.

Patrick Sandoval had allowed two runs through three before the Astros scored six in the fourth. Martín Maldonado, Mauricio Dubón, and Jeremy Peña each singled to load the bases, though Peña’s maybe should’ve been an E6 since Livan Soto double clutched his slow roller to shortstop. Yordan Alvarez then got his own infield hit when Sandoval failed to cover first on his RBI grounder.

Skipper Phil Nevin turned to Jacob Webb out of the ‘pen, and then Alex Bregman smashed the decisive blow when he successfully pulled off one of his favorite hits: a homer that would only go out in Houston due to the Crawford Boxes.

You play to the strengths of your home ballpark, and as a short porch enthusiast myself, I can’t get too annoyed about it. It’s probably the part of Bregman’s game that I respect the most. He’s so good at it.

The Angels made it a little interesting in the seventh when they rallied on a Hunter Renfroe homer, key doubles from Luis Rengifo and Shohei Ohtani, and an RBI single from Mike Trout to make it 7-5. They loaded the bases for Renfroe’s second at-bat of the inning, but this time, he grounded out. Chas McCormick immediately homered for Houston to kill the Halos’ vibes, and the final score was 9-6.

Toronto Blue Jays (32-27) 2, New York Mets (30-29) 1

Leave it to the lousy Mets to do the Yankees no favors, as with a 2-1 defeat yesterday at the hands (talons?) of the Blue Jays, they officially lost a home series to Toronto. By the way, you know how Aaron Judge always kills the Jays? Pete Alonso is 1-for-8 against them in this series with just a single; to that, I say “Boooo!”

Anyway, onto the specifics. This was a tense 1-1 pitchers’ duel through eight, as José Berríos and Tylor Megill held their opponents to one run apiece, though that was a bit more surprising in Megill’s case. The Mets righty walked five batters to go alongside five hits allowed, but an RBI infield single from Alejandro Kirk in the sixth was the only damaging mark on his record. That tied the game, as the Mets registered their run on a Daniel Vogelbach double in the second that plated Starling Marte before the Amazins went quiet.

Old friend David Robertson was called upon to wriggle out of an eighth-inning jam by fanning Kirk with the go-ahead run in scoring position, but in the ninth, the top of the Toronto lineup got to him. George Springer singled, stole second, and came home when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. doubled him in on a swing that no doubt made his father smile:

It only would’ve been more Vlad Sr. if the pitch had somehow been pulled out.

Jordan Romano had worked back-to-back days for Toronto, so the Mets had an even better chance in the ninth than normal with Erik Swanson on the bump for the save. With one out, Mark Canha singled to put the winning run at the plate with a potent pinch-hitter up next: Francisco Alvarez. Swanson induced a fly out and then fanned Brandon Nimmo to clinch the W.

San Francisco Giants (29-29) 4, Baltimore Orioles (36-22) 0

Alex Cobb rocked the Birds to sleep during the last game of the night, holding them to five measly hits across 7.2 shutout innings, walking nary a batter across his 103 pitches. It’s kind of funny how he’s reinvented himself since his nightmare four-year deal with the O’s, which is just about the only time in his career that he’s been bad.

The Giants dealt the bulk of their damage early off Kyle Bradish. They took a 3-0 lead in the third by stringing together a series of hits: LaMonte Wade Jr doubled, J.D. Davis singled him in, Mike Yastrzemski doubled Davis to third, and Wilmer Flores delivered the fourth-straight knock with a single to center.

With the O’s not doing much of anything at the bat, that was all she wrote. Also, Aaron Hicks made this oddly-tracked-but-ultimately-successful catch in center, so good for him I suppose.

Other Games:

Texas Rangers (37-20) 16, Seattle Mariners (29-29) 6: We might have to finally accept that the Rangers belong in the upper section of this roundup soon because they just keep outclassing their opponents and they remain in first place in the AL West even with the Astros playing really well, too. The Rangers’ latest feat was absolutely pummeling Seattle to secure a weekend series victory. Andrew Heaney pitched like crap and was gone from the game before an out was recorded in the fourth, and it didn’t matter because the Texas lineup smoked Bryan Woo in his MLB debut to build a 6-0 lead. Four different hitters—Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Nathaniel Lowe, and Leody Taveras—racked up three RBI for Texas, with Semien tallying a single, a double, and two homers.

Oh, and shout-out to the recently-recalled Yankees legend Mike Ford for throwing the final inning for Seattle. Despite a dinger, he was their second-best pitcher on the day for them.

Cleveland Guardians (26-32) 4, Minnesota Twins (31-28) 2: On the opposite side of the Rangers’ spectrum, we’re getting close to dropping the underachieving Guardians from the roundup altogether. But since the barely-over-.500 Twins don’t have that much of a grip on the AL Central, they remain. The Guardians captured their first of this four-game weekend throwdown, as they shook off Jorge Polanco’s leadoff homer and a 2-1 deficit in the seventh to take the lead on a two-run shot by Will Brennan off Sonny Gray (who has been good since his dazzling April but not nearly as dominant). Steven Kwan added an insurance run with just his second dinger of 2023 and Cleveland won.