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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros win wild interstate matchup

The Yankees had the day off, but some key rivals were hard at work on Monday.

Texas Rangers v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After sweeping the Royals, the Yankees had a day off on Monday as they await the Mets for the second half of the Subway Series. They weren’t the only team off, with the Rays, Red Sox, and Angels joining them on the couch. That left a handful of teams competing still, however, and there were some interesting results to note.

Baltimore Orioles (62-38) 3, Philadelphia Phillies (53-47) 2

Cristopher Sánchez has had an excellent start to his season following a pair of meh seasons in Philadelphia, and he turned in another stellar performance. Despite not being as flashy, however, Dean Kremer managed to outperform him in an unlikely pitcher’s duel.

The Orioles got to Sánchez first, striking with a Jordan Westburg solo shot in the second inning, but then things settled down for a few frames. The Phillies got runners on in three of the first four innings, but they managed to string together a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly in the fifth to tie things up. Then the Orioles responded immediately with more power — Ryan Mountcastle did the honors this time, and his solo shot put Baltimore right back on top.

Kremer lasted seven strong before finally turning the ball over to Danny Coulombe, and Coulombe nearly walked into and out of trouble by allowing the first two batters to reach before getting a double-play ball. Unfortunately for him, he needed three outs, and he didn’t get that third one before Nick Castellanos singled home the lead runner to tie the game again. Once again, it was a short-lived draw — the Orioles punched back in the ninth with an RBI double from Colton Cowser, and Cionel Pérez managed to work around a two-out rally to secure the save.

Baltimore now has a 2.5-game advantage over Tampa Bay in the AL East.

Toronto Blue Jays (56-45) 6, Los Angeles Dodgers (57-42) 3 (11 innings)

Michael Grove entered this game with a 6.40 ERA and looked the part, scattering eight hits over 4.2 innings before bowing out of the game. He did manage to at least limit the damage, allowing just two runs to score from his mess, and that was enough to match José Berríos over on the other side. Berríos struggled all night with his command, issuing four walks, and exited after just five innings having also allowed two runs.

The battle of the bullpens commenced, and both buckled in the eighth inning. Brusdar Graterol allowed a solo homer to Matt Chapman in the top half, and then Trevor Richards coughed one up to Max Muncy in the bottom half. The ninth was uneventful for both sides, sending the game into extras. The Dodgers managed to shut down the Jays in the top of the 10th, giving them a chance to manufacture a walk off, but they fumbled the opportunity when Muncy struck out to lead off, and a pair of softly-hit balls weren’t going to get the job done afterwards.

Instead, the game advanced to the 11th inning, and the Jays broke through here. Chapman got aboard via error to start, and Whit Merrifield punched a ball through to center loading the bases. Daulton Varsho doubled two of them home, and then two straight walks forced a third run in. Jordan Romano was summoned for the bottom of the 11th, and the Jays closer sat the Dodgers down in order to end it. They now lead the Yankees and Red Sox for the final Wild Card spot by 2.5 games.

Houston Astros (57-44) 10, Texas Rangers (59-42) 9

The Rangers have held onto first place in the AL West for most of the season, but they’ve struggled to gain separation from the defending champs throughout. They burned an opportunity to widen the gap again, dropping a barnburner of a game to Houston that had action from the drop.

The Rangers offense started hot right out of the gate, led by a Josh Jung two-run blast in the first inning. Houston countered with a four-spot in the bottom frame, with the big blow being a two-run double by Chas McCormick, but then Texas responded with three more runs in the second thanks to an error and singles from Travis Jankowski and Nathaniel Lowe.

The Rangers padded their lead in the fourth on a Josh H. Smith solo shot, but the Astros struck back in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of sacrifice flies. Then both teams traded a set of three runs in the seventh inning, with Texas getting theirs on two walks and a sac fly while Houston relied on an umpire-reviewed home run from McCormick off Aroldis Chapman to get them back to even.

It all came down to the bottom of the ninth, when Houston worked a pair of walks to get the winning run in scoring position for Yainer Diaz to single him home. The walk-off leaves the Astros just two back of the Rangers, in a race that should go down to the wire.

AL Central Rock Fight

Kansas City Royals (29-73) 5, Cleveland Guardians (49-51) 3
Minnesota Twins (54-48) 4, Seattle Mariners (50-50) 3 (10 innings)

The Guardians proved the Yankees’ recent sweep to be fortuitous, as they showed that it is indeed possible to lose to a team that is actively a hot mess. The Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to Edward Olivares and Salvador Perez, and limited Cleveland’s rally in the seventh inning to just a couple runs. Meanwhile, the Twins are quietly separating themselves from their rivals and the .500 line with a victory against the Mariners (who continue to struggle with that second feat themselves). Minnesota nearly blew it by coughing up two runs and the lead in the ninth, but Max Kepler tied it back up and Carlos Correa walked it off in extras. Cleveland now trails Minnesota by four games.