Well, hope you enjoyed your All-Star break respite, as the beginning of the second half couldn’t have been much more miserable from a Yankees perspective. Carlos Rodon had a shaky second start in Colorado, and the Bombers couldn’t muster much despite the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field. Not only that, the rest of their division looked excellent, as you’ll see in a moment. When the dust settled on Friday night, the Yankees were tied for last in the AL East.
Toronto Blue Jays (50-41) 7, Arizona Diamondbacks (52-40) 2
Some may not like the balanced schedule that mandates every team places every other team, but that setup allows for some cool matchups that we wouldn’t usually see, such as this clash between a couple of talented squads. Last night, the Jays got their second half off to a good start, breaking through late to down the D’backs.
Vlad Guerrero Jr. started things off with a solo homer in the second off Ryne Nelson, and Kevin Kiermaier added a sac fly later in the inning to go up 2-0. But Nelson held firm there, scattering nine hits over 5.2 innings to give his lineup a chance to get back into it.
They obliged, nicking a run off a José Berríos wild pitch in the fourth, and then tying the game in the seventh thanks to Gabriel Moreno’s home run, with the young catcher getting some revenge on the team that traded him:
The rally would be for naught, though, as Toronto teed off in the bottom of the seventh. The Blue Jays put up a five spot, with four of the runs coming off reliever Austin Adams. Brandon Belt drove in a run on a forceout, Matt Chapman picked up an RBI double, Whit Merrifield drove in two with a single, and Merrifield scored on a throwing error to bring the score to 7-2.
Baltimore Orioles (55-35) 5, Miami Marlins (53-40) 2
On paper, the back of the rotation is a major weakness for this Baltimore club. One of their backend arms, though, is starting to go on a heater. Dean Kremer, coming off a dominating start against the Yankees, shoved again versus the Marlins, firing six innings of one-run ball while striking out eight.
That kind of performance is going to be enough for the Orioles lineup on most nights. Baltimore worked out 11 hits against the Miami staff, including eight over six innings against reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara. Light-hitting Adam Frazier went deep twice and drove in four runs, while Cedric Mullins had a three-hit day including a homer of his own.
After Kremer departed, the Orioles’ top two setup men, Bryan Baker and Yennier Cano, got the ball to Félix Bautista, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save. It all added up for a straightforward victory, the kind Baltimore has seen plenty of in 2023.
Texas Rangers (53-39) 12, Cleveland Guardians (45-46) 4
The Texas offense picked up where they left off in the first half. After falling in a deep early hole, the Rangers mashed their way past Cleveland to solidify their grip in the AL West.
Coming off a great first three months, Jon Gray got off to a shaky start, with the Guardians crushing him in the third inning. First, rookie catcher Bo Naylor took Gray deep for a two-run shot, the second homer of his career. Four batters later, Bo’s brother Josh smashed a two-run dinger of his own, marking the first time in history brothers have hit multi-run homers in the same half inning:
That was all the damage Cleveland could muster against Gray, though, so the Rangers lineup worked their way back. Nate Lowe hit a solo homer in the fourth, followed by Travis Jankowski’s RBI single to bring things to 4-2. Texas got the score to 4-3 entering the seventh, where they finally surged ahead.
Corey Seager doubled home a run to even the score, Adolis García singled home one more for the lead, and Jonah Heim drove in two with a double, continuing his breakout season. Leody Taveras’ RBI single capped things off and left Texas with an 8-4 lead. Texas added insurance in the eighth via homers from Seager, García, and Heim. If this game was any indication, this lineup is going to keep crushing all through the summer.
Houston Astros (51-41) 7, Los Angeles Angels (45-47) 5
The season is slip sliding away in Anaheim. The Angels had Shohei Ohtani on the mound against their division rivals, but even he wasn’t enough as they lost their sixth straight.
Michael Stefanic and Zach Neto drove in runs in the second to give Ohtani an early lead, but the two-way superstar wasn’t at his best on the mound, quickly giving up two to the Astros in the fourth. Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker each doubled the next inning to score two and put the Astros ahead 4-2.
The Angels did well to come back from there, with Ohtani doing his part at the plate, singling with one out to start the rally. Mickey Moniak and Eduardo Escobar would eventually each single home a run to tie the score.
But Ohtani and the Angels staff just couldn’t hold things there. Ohtani stayed in the game to start the sixth and walked the leadoff batter before being pulled. Jacob Webb came on, and after a walk and sac bunt, promptly gave up a two-run single to Corey Julks. José Abreu singled home a run for insurance.
Taylor Ward hit a towering solo shot in the eighth to cut it to 7-5, and the Angels did put two on with two out later in the inning, but Bryan Abreu escaped the jam, with Anaheim going down quietly in the ninth versus Ryan Pressly. At this point, there’s just not much hope for the Angels.
Brayan Bello tossed another solid outing, and the Red Sox jumped all over Kyle Hendricks, tagging him for four home runs, to start the second half strong. Rafael Devers hit two homers off Hendricks, while Triston Casas and Adam Duvall also took the right-hander deep. That was enough to cancel out Cody Bellinger, who had a two-dinger game of his own. The win pulls the Red Sox into a tie with the Yankees in the AL East.
AL Central Rock Fight
Minnesota had to grind out a win over the lowly A’s, locked in a 3-3 deadlock in Oakland headed into the ninth. There, Joey Gallo hit a two-run home run, his 16th of the season, to push the Twins in front. Closer Jhoan Durán let up a run and let the tying run to second in the bottom half, but ultimately finished things off to put Minnesota back in first in the AL Central.