The Yankees picked up a crucial win last night, meaning they had the opportunity to gain some ground on their rivals. They obviously narrowed the (large) gap between themselves and the Orioles, but would they be able to move up the standings in the AL Wild Card race? Let’s take a look.
Toronto Blue Jays (59-46) 6, Los Angeles Angels (54-51) 1
The Blue Jays kept up their strong play of late, limiting the Angels to take their third straight and fifth in six games. Shohei Ohtani had another strong game, reaching base four times a day after exiting with cramping, but the Angels did a nice impression of the Yankees’ one-man-army lineup, ultimately going down quietly.
Alek Manoah started for Toronto as he continues to try to turn his disastrous season around. He looked strong at the outset, shutting out the Angels through four, though Reid Detmers matched him, and we took a scoreless game into the fifth. Manoah loaded the bases in the top half and hit Taylor Ward with a pitch to drive in a run and put the Angels up 1-0. That ended Manoah’s day after 4.1 innings of one-run ball.
Genesis Cabrera did a nice job relieving Manoah, though, escaping the bases-loaded jam without further damage, and from there it was all Blue Jays. In the bottom of the fifth, Santiago Espinal took Detmers deep for a two-run dinger and a 2-1 lead. Alejandro Kirk smashed a solo homer in the seventh, followed by a Whit Merrifield RBI double the same inning. In the eighth, Kirk smacked his second homer of the day, a two-run job to put the Jays up 6-1. Five relievers combined to allow just two hits in relief of Manoah, striking out nine Angels in the process, meaning Toronto’s trio of homers was plenty to secure the victory.
Houston Astros (59-46) 17, Tampa Bay Rays (63-44) 4
Man, the Rays historic start is starting to feel like a distant memory. Just six weeks ago, the Rays hit their high-watermark for the season at 51-22. Since then, they are 12-22, better than only the Royals and A’s in the American League. Their woes worsened last night, as the Astros embarrassed the Rays for their worst loss of the season.
Taj Bradley got the start for Tampa and took it on the chin. The youngster yielded a two-run homer in the second to Yanier Diaz, and departed in the fourth with the bases loaded after managing just 3.1 innings. Kevin Kelly came on and allowed all three inherited runners to score on a double from Jeremy Pena, and it was 5-0.
Houston poured it on from there. Chas McCormick put up a two-run triple as part of a three-run fifth that had the Astros up 8-0. Next inning, Jose Abreu smashed a three-run homer to go up 11-0. The Rays finally got on the board in the seventh on a two-run dinger from Isaac Paredes, but the Astros responded with five more in the bottom half, thanks to homers from Jose Altuvé, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Álvarez.
The beneficiary of all the fireworks was rookie Hunter Brown, who worked six solid innings with two runs allowed. The blowout kept Tampa two games back of the Orioles in the AL East, and pulled Houston to within 1.5 of the Rangers out west.
San Diego Padres (51-54) 4, Texas Rangers (60-45) 0
The Padres have had a number of underperformers this year, Yu Darvish among them, with the veteran entering the game with an 85 ERA+ and coming off a disastrous seven-run outing against the lowly Pirates. Even in a disappointing season for Darvish, though, he’s often flashed the multi-faceted brilliance that’s defined his career, and he showed it again last night in dominating his former team.
Darvish allowed just three hits over six shutout, striking out nine and walking two. Those two walks actually came to lead off the game, but Darvish quickly generated a pop out and two strikeouts to work out of the jam. After that, Texas got a runner even to second base just two more times all game. Darvish retired 12 straight Rangers through the middle innings, and retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.
The Padres didn’t get all that much going to support Darvish, managing no extra-base hits and scoring only in one inning. They bunched a whole of action into that lone frame, though, stringing together four singles and two walks against Martin Perez in the second inning. That was enough to push across four runs, more than enough on a night where good Darvish showed up.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (56-49) 4, Seattle Mariners (53-51) 3: Arizona fell behind 3-0 early on in this one, but did well to hang in there and rally back. A 3-3 tie was broken in the eighth on a clutch RBI single from Dominic Canzone, with the rookie finishing 2-for-4 with 2 RBI on the night. Andrew Chafin put two on in the ninth, but Scott McGough came on to retire the last batter and strand the tying and go-ahead runs and end the game.
- San Francisco Giants (56-48) 2, Boston Red Sox (56-47) 3, : The Giants almost blew this one, as they carried a 2-0 lead into the ninth on the strength of an opener strategy, with Sean Manaea doing the bulk work with 4.2 shutout innings. But Camilo Doval blew the save, allowing a two-run single to Justin Turner to tie the game at the death. No matter, J.D. Davis led off the home half with a walk-off homer off Kenley Jansen. Good news for the Yankees, who are still trying to dig out of last place in the AL East, and are now one back of Boston.
AL Central Rock Fight
More uninspiring stuff from the Guardians. Shut out by the White Sox on Friday night, they floundered again, putting up just two on Saturday, with Mike Clevinger tossing five shutout. Tim Anderson with 3-for-5, including his first dinger of 2023 and first in over a year, while Andrew Vaughn hit his 13th.
And yet, the Twins again couldn’t take advantage of the chance to expand their lead in this pitiful division. Bailey Ober suffered through a nightmare outing, allowing 11 hits and six runs over four against the moribund Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. went 4-for-5 with a homer and a triple, while Michael Massey hit his eighth homer of the year.