The Yankees got the job done in their series opener against the Orioles, thanks in large part to the home run ball. Anthony Volpe and Kyle Higashioka got them on the board in the fifth inning, and Harrison Bader broke the tie in the eighth with an electric three-run blast to left. It wasn’t looking hopeful in the earlier innings, but nevertheless the win arrived and good times were had.
The rest of the AL East was off on Monday, but there were still some other relevant teams across the American League getting in on the action. Let’s see what went down outside of the Bronx:
Houston Astros (47-38) 12, Texas Rangers (50-35) 11
It’s fitting that this is the main game from the day, because it was a thriller. The two top teams over in the AL West have been going at it all weekend and the Astros have gotten the better hand, gaining ground in a narrow race for the division lead. Neither starting pitcher — Martín Pérez for the Rangers and Cristian Javier for the Astros — would be long for this game, but let’s start with the one who got into trouble first: Pérez.
Chas McCormick greeted Pérez in the second with a solo shot, and Yainer Diaz went back-to-back with him to make it 2-0. Two more batters reached base before Pérez got the first out of the inning, but after Mauricio Dubón singled to load the bases, Kyle Tucker promptly unloaded them. In the blink of an eye it was 6-0 Astros, and Pérez was lifted for Glenn Otto.
We were just getting started on this wild train, however.
Texas got two back in the third on a two-run Leody Taveras shot, but Houston got four more in the top of the fourth, with the big blow coming from José Abreu launching a three-run blast. Texas’ response was a Travis Jankowski three-run shot of his own in the bottom frame, and then their stacked lineup rallied for four more non-homer runs in the fifth inning.
Travis Jankowski - Texas Rangers (1)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 3, 2023
At the end of all that madness, it was 10-9 Houston.
In the seventh and eighth innings, it was time for the Rangers to briefly take the lead. First they tied it in the seventh on an Adolis García homer, and then in the eighth Corey Seager lifted a sacrifice fly. Their effort was negated by Abreu and McCormick doubling home a pair of runs to retake the lead immediately against closer Will Smith, and Houston’s bullpen finally settled down for a 1-2-3 ninth.
That secured three wins for Houston out of the four-game set, and just a three-game separation between these two.
San Diego Padres (39-46) 10, Los Angeles Angels (45-42) 3: Fernando Tatis Jr. was not named an All-Star this year, and his play in this game is a protest to getting snubbed. Tatis went 3-for-5 with three runs batted in, sharing the spotlight with Xander Bogaerts (3-for-3, 3 RBI and a homer) in a rout of the Halos. To make matters worse for the Angels, Mike Trout exited this game late after taking an awkward swing. The Angels are on the cusp of relevance again for the first time in years, so seeing Trout miss any significant time would be a major bummer.
Seattle Mariners (41-42) 6, San Francisco Giants (46-39) 5: For eight innings, this game was a low-scoring pitcher’s duel between Bryan Woo and Logan Webb. It was tied at two entering the ninth when all hell broke loose — the Mariners rallied for four runs on a sac fly, Julio Rodriguez double and Teoscar Hernández single, only to watch the Giants nearly tie it up with three runs of their own in the bottom of the ninth via a Blake Sabol bomb. Unfortunately for the Giants, though they got the tying run on base they couldn’t bring him home, instead ending it on a Brandon Crawford strikeout.
AL Central Rock Fight
In what is one of the most one-sided comparisons of opponents, the Twins got back to .500 by jumping all over Austin Cox and later Taylor Clarke from the woeful Royals, while the Guardians were subjected to a lockdown performance by first-time All-Star Bryce Elder and the best team in baseball in Atlanta. In an underlying headline from here, there are now two teams with 60 or more losses before a single team has gotten to 60 wins.