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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: The Orioles enter first place

Baltimore is on top for the first time this late in the year since 2016.

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Yankees were thankfully off yesterday, giving us a day of respite from their crusade down to the bottom of the standings. In the meantime, there was a battle atop the division and action with the other division leaders to scoreboard watch over instead, which currently is a far better use of everyone’s time. In that vein, let’s see how the rest of the field did on Thursday:

Baltimore Orioles (59-37) 4, Tampa Bay Rays (60-40) 3 (10 innings)

The Orioles took a major step forward last year, staying in the playoff hunt until late in the year after years of complete non-contention, and many criticized them for not supplementing that surge over the offseason. Instead, Baltimore’s brain trust put their trust in the young core developing in the organization, and they’ve been proven right so far. Their latest step forward over the floundering Rays officially put them in sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Kyle Gibson and Tyler Glasnow both came out and gave their all for their teams. Both went deep and worked around a decent amount of contact, with Gibson going six strong and striking out eight while Glasnow lasted seven and struck out nine. Gibson got tagged early for a run in the second, but Baltimore backed him up with three runs in the fourth thanks to big hits from Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, and Aaron Hicks.

Tampa was hardly out of it, however. They got the first two batters to reach on singles against Gibson in the seventh, chasing him from the game in favor of Yennier Cano. The normally elite reliever wasn’t able to hold the inherited runners, immediately getting greeted by a double from Yandy Diaz to tie the game.

The Rays got runners on in the eighth inning against Bryan Baker, but he was able to escape and hand the ball over to closer Felix Bautista who shut the door from there. Once the game went into extras, the Orioles were able to manufacture a run out of the ghost runner while Bautista got a strikeout and a double play to end it in the 10th.

Toronto Blue Jays (54-43) 4, San Diego Padres (46-51) 0

Blake Snell simply did not have his command on point in this start, walking an absurdly high seven batters in just five innings. Despite allowing five hits on top of all the free passes, Snell kept his team in the game by managing to strand all but one of them — Jordan Luplow put a ground ball just out of the reach of Xander Bogaerts with runners on the corners in the second inning to score a lone run.

The Padres bullpen faltered later on, but it hardly mattered because San Diego couldn’t get anything going on offense. Chris Bassitt and company held them to just six hits in the game, and Bassitt was able to go six shutout before handing it off to the back of the bullpen. The Padres weren’t whiffing much — they only struck out six times — but their contact was atrocious and routine for the Jays’ fielders all day.

Houston Astros (54-43) 3, Oakland Athletics 1 (27-72)

Yeah, no surprises here. The A’s did manage to get an early lead off of J.P. France, working a leadoff walk for Seth Brown to double home, but then France buckled down for seven strong innings. Meanwhile, Hogan Harris had an admirable effort in going six innings considering his ERA was north of six, but he couldn’t keep the ‘Stros off the board forever, and they got to him right at the end. After making two quick outs, Mauricio Dubon and Jeremy Peña both singled to put the go-ahead run on base and Kyle Tucker doubled both of them home.

From there, it was clinical for Houston to cruise to victory. They added an insurance run in the ninth inning courtesy of an Alex Bregman bomb, his 14th of the year, but otherwise both pitching staffs held everyone in check. The A’s were simply unable to make more with their one opportunity, and then the 70+ loss club played to their standard.

AL Central Rock Fight

Seattle Mariners (48-48) 5, Minnesota Twins (50-48) 0: The first-place Twins entered Thursday with the same record as the last-place Yankees, but they did us a favor and made this comparison even more annoying by losing. George Kirby pitched a gem for Seattle, tossing seven shutout and racking up 10 strikeouts while Teoscar Hernandez and Mike Ford powered the offense over Pablo and Jorge López.