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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Shohei Ohtani steadies Angels, while Rays down Red Sox

The Rays kept on chugging along, while Anaheim’s two-way star saved the Angels from a sweep in Houston.

Los Angeles Angels v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Yankees went into their off-day with a nice win in Los Angeles, taking the series from the Dodgers. It’ll be a quieter day today as the Yankees and many of their rivals travel, but as per usual Sunday was packed with great action. Here’s what you may have missed across the Junior Circuit.

Tampa Bay Rays (42-19) 6, Boston Red Sox (30-29) 2

The Rays aren’t as red-hot as they were to open the year, but they’re still cruising along playing good baseball. Rookie starter Taj Bradley outpitched Tanner Houck and Tampa eased to a win in the rubber match of this series.

It wasn’t much flashy from Tampa, who patiently worked five walks off Houck, along with four hits, to build a 4-2 lead after five innings. In the top of the sixth, with veteran Corey Kluber pitching in relief, the Rays extended their lead thanks to some shoddy fieldwork from Boston:

It was a little league homer for Yandy Díaz, giving the Rays a 6-2 lead that would never be threatened the rest of the way. Bradley earned the win, and Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth to deliver the Rays to the finish line. Tampa Bay remains six games in front of New York with the best record in baseball, and still four up on Baltimore.

Los Angeles Angels (31-30) 2, Houston Astros 1 (35-24)

It’s an exaggeration to say the Angels’ season is on a life support, but after dropping the first three of this series in Houston to fall back to .500, it seemed as though the Halos’ annual midseason drift into irrelevance was upon us. Well, they staved off the sweep, stealing the last one from their rivals in a tightly-contested match.

Griffin Canning was strong for the Angels, holding a potent Astros lineup to five baserunners and one run across six innings, the lone run thanks to a solo homer from Yainer Diaz. But rookie J.P. France was just as excellent, holding the Angels to one run over seven innings, allowing just three hits and one walk. Luis Rengifo’s solo homer was the only blemish on France’s line.

Heading into the late innings tied against a Houston team in possession of an excellent bullpen, things still did not look great for the Angels. But it’s times like these where it’s useful to employ Shohei Ohtani, who strode to the plate with one out in the eighth to face Phil Maton:

Ohtani’s RBI double provided the winning margin, with Chris Devenski and Carlos Estévez combining to navigate the final three innings in scoreless fashion.

Toronto Blue Jays (33-27) 6, New York Mets (30-30) 4

An ugly weekend for the Mets concluded in dispiriting fashion. Toronto staved off a rally from New York, prevailing in the later innings to secure a sweep at Citi Field and send the Mets back to .500.

Starter Kodai Senga and the Mets defense were sloppy early in the game. A walk and single in the second inning put two on for Whit Merrifield, who drove both home for a 2-0 lead. In the next inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Senga deep for a solo shot. A few batters later, Daulton Varsho walked with a man on second, and catcher Francisco Álvarez threw the ball into center field in an attempted pickoff, allowing the runner to score and extend the lead to 4-0:

Senga didn’t even make it out of the third, allowing four runs on five hits and five walks across 2.2 innings.

Yusei Kikuchi held the Mets to two runs over five innings, and left his bullpen a 4-2 lead to defend. Fireball Nate Pearson wasn’t up to the task, letting the Mets back into the game after allowing solo shots to Pete Alonso and Starling Marte in the sixth.

But the 4-4 tie was short-lived. The next frame, Brandon Belt smashed a two-run dinger off Dominic Leone to put Toronto back in front for good:

This was a big sweep for the Jays, who have played some uneven ball this year but now are getting on a roll heading into a tough matchup with the Astros starting today.

Baltimore Orioles (37-22) 7, San Francisco Giants (29-30) 3

Baltimore bounced back nicely after getting shut down Saturday night by former Oriole Alex Cobb, taking Anthony DeSclafani to task early in the game before cruising to a series win in San Francisco.

A six-run third inning turned this one lopsided quickly. DeSclafani struggled with his command, walking three and hitting one with a pitch all in a single frame. Adam Frazier drove in one with a sac fly, Austin Hays chipped in an RBI single, Ryan Mountcastle drove one home with a bases-loaded walk, and Josh Lester chased home three with a single (plus an error).

The Giants’ bullpen performed capably behind DeSclafani, holding Baltimore to two runs over six innings of relief to at least give their offense a chance to rally, but the Orioles got another solid start from Tyler Wells. The right-hander struck out nine over 5.1 innings of two-run ball, lowering his ERA on the season to 3.29 and earning the win. Baltimore remains in solid position in second in the AL East after taking two of three from the Giants.

Other Games:

Texas Rangers (38-20) 12, Seattle Mariners (29-30) 3: The Rangers look more and more legit with each passing day. They thumped Seattle on Sunday, with breakout catcher Jonah Heim leading the way with five RBI and his seventh homer of the season. Corey Seager also continued to mash, going 2-3 with a solo homer, bringing his OPS to 1.028. Texas’ latest offensive explosion was in support of Nate Eovaldi, who was once again outstanding, shutting out the Mariners over six one-hit innings. while lowering his ERA to 2.24 on the season The Rangers are now 3.5 games clear in the AL West, and have easily the best run differential in baseball; on the other side, the M’s are back under .500.

Cleveland Guardians (27-32) 2, Minnesota Twins (31-29) 1: Triston McKenzie broke out in 2022, but missed the first two months of the season with a shoulder issue. He made his debut Sunday and gave the slumping Guardians a needed boost, looking mighty impressive over five shutout innings, striking out ten against just two baserunners. Joe Ryan pitched well for Minnesota, shutting out Cleveland over six, but faltered in the seventh, allowing an RBI double to Josh Naylor and an RBI triple to Andres Giménez. The Twins threatened, pulling within one thanks to a Willi Castro solo shot in the eighth, and getting the tying run to third in both the eighth and ninth innings, but Cleveland escaped each time to get out of Minnesota with a four-game series split.