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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Dodgers slam Orioles, Rangers walk off Rays

The Orioles suffered a tough interleague loss, while the Rays were downed in comic fashion.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If you stayed up late last night to catch the Yankees square off with the Angels, you were treated to another mystifying, gut-wrenching loss. If you watched any of the other baseball that was contested across the AL, well, you may have had a better time, with the slate featuring some enticing matchups, such as an NL juggernaut making a trip to Maryland, and a couple of the AL’s finest facing off in Texas.

Los Angeles Dodgers (54-39) 6, Baltimore Orioles (57-36) 4

Here we’ve got a fun, rare interleague series, with the Dodgers visiting Baltimore, and game one featured an interesting pitching matchup of talented young hurlers, the recently-recalled Grayson Rodriguez vs. Emmet Sheehan.

Rodriguez looked better than he had during his brutal opening stretch to the season, one that saw him tally an ERA around 7 before getting demoted to Triple-A. He held the Dodgers to just one run over the first five innings, and his offense did a good job peppering Sheehan. Ryan Mountcastle doubled home a run in the first, Adam Frazier drove home another in the second, and Gunnar Henderson managed an RBI triple in the second to grab an early lead. Adley Rutchsman smashed a solo homer in the fourth, his the 13th of the year, and the Orioles carried a 4-1 lead into the sixth.

There, it all unraveled for Rodriguez. Freddie Freeman led off with a triple, and Will Smith quickly singled him to the plate, before moving to second on a wild pitch from Rodriguez. Max Muncy drew a walk, and Rodriguez was finally pulled with the tying runs on base. Bryan Baker came on, but wasn’t up for the task. He walked Jason Heyward to load the bases, bringing Chris Taylor to the plate. Taylor pulled off an extremely impressive swing, climbing the ladder to barrel a well-located high fastball, in an 0-2 count, for a crushing grand slam:

The O’s couldn’t recover from that. The Dodger bullpen did quality work in relief of a shaky Sheehan, and Ryan Brasier ultimately recorded his second save in a Dodger uniform. A tough loss for Baltimore to open this series.

Texas Rangers (56-39) 3, Tampa Bay Rays (60-37) 2

We’ve got another fascinating matchup, this one pitting two of the AL’s best against one another. The Rays did get some good news, as their ace Shane McClanahan, one of the league’s best pitchers this season before hitting the IL at the end of last month, came back and looked sharp, allowing just two runs over six innings while striking out six and walking none.

But his opponent, Dane Dunning, matched him stride for stride. Randy Arozarena managed an RBI sac fly in the first, and Josh Lowe stroked a towering solo homer in the second to put Tampa up 2-0. Yet Dunning settled in really nicely from there, lasting seven strong with five hits and two runs allowed. The 28-year-old’s breakout has been a crucial part of Texas’ surprise season, with Dunning lowering his ERA on the season to 2.82 with the outing.

Dunning’s work gave the Rangers time to get on the board. All they could manage against McClanahan was Ezequiel Durán’s two-run homer in the sixth, which was enough to tie the game:

If you carefully scan the Yankees’ transaction log over the last decade or more, you’ll find it uncommon that Brian Cashman has yielded a prospect that really came back to haunt them. It’s possible we’ve have found a rare example in Durán here; the 24-year-old now has an OPS+ in excess of 130, all while playing six different positions on defense at a passable level.

Neither team could scratch the other’s bullpen, at least until the bottom of the ninth. Josh Jung doubled to lead off against power relief pitcher Pete Fairbanks, though it looked as though his efforts would go for naught after Fairbanks recorded a strikeout and groundout. Crucially, though, Josh Smith (traded along with Duran for Joey Gallo in 2021), pinch-running for Jung, took third on Nathaniel Lowe’s groundout. That allowed him to score when Fairbanks uncorked a game-ending wild pitch:

The walk-off wild pitch is one of the funnier (or infuriating) ways to end a game, so it’s a shame to see it happen the Rays. It also drills home another frustrating aspect of this Yankees’ season, as Tampa has at last really come back to the pack (they’re 3-9 over their last 12, but the Yankees have just been unable to capitalize.

Other Games

  • Boston Red Sox (51-44) 7, Oakland Athletics (25-71) 0: The Red Sox did what you’re supposed to do in Oakland: win easily. Boston deployed an opener, with Brennan Bernardino handling the first two frames before handing things over to follower Nick Pivetta. The right-hander turned in an outstanding performance, no-hitting the A’s over the course of six innings, striking out 13 and walking two. Yes, it’s the A’s, but that’s an impressive run. The Red Sox pounded out nine hits against Paul Blackburn, knocking the righty for six runs over 5.2 innings, more than enough on a night that saw Pivetta shove. Oakland managed just one hit, narrowly avoiding getting no-hit for the second time in a month.

AL Central Rock Fight

Seattle Mariners (47-46) 7, Minnesota Twins (48-47) 6

Cleveland Guardians (46-48) 11, Pittsburgh Pirates (41-53) 0

The Guardians used a bullpen game to absolutely pound Pittsburgh, with six Cleveland arms combining for a four-hit shutout of the reeling Pirates. Josh Naylor led the way with his 13th homer of the season, while Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez also went deep. Meanwhile, Minnesota ace Sonny Gray had one of his worst starts of the year, yielding five runs in 5.2 innings in Seattle. Logan Gilbert turned in a solid five-inning, two-run outing, and the M’s took a 7-3 lead to the ninth. Max Kepler hit a three-run homer there with two outs to make things interesting, but Paul Sewald came on for a one-out save to stop the rally there.