clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Rays walk off again, Rangers and Astros stay hot

The top teams in the AL continued to show why they’re the top teams.

Cleveland Guardians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

If you watched the Yankee game yesterday, you were treated to another listless effort from the offense, something we’ve been treated to frequently this year. If you watched some of the other AL baseball that was contested, well, you may have actually tuned into some fascinating stuff. There were a number of tight games, including a walk-off and some extra-innings action. Let’s dive in.

Chicago Cubs (61-56) 5, Toronto Blue Jays (65-54) 4

The Cubs remained red-hot, taking the second of this series, and their 19th in the last 25 games, to cinch the three-game set in Toronto.

The Chicago offense was quiet for much of they day, but they struck like lightning in a four-run fourth. After a Nico Hoerner double, Ian Happ walked, and Cody Bellinger singled, tying the game at one. Then, Dansby Swanson turned on an 0-1 sweeper from Chris Bassitt and smashed it deep into the left-field seats, his 18th of the season:

In a flash, the Cubs had plated four runs and led 4-1.

The Jays hung in there against Justin Steele, with Whit Merrifield hitting a two-run homer of his own in the fifth to draw Toronto with one. Steele exited after five, and Mark Leiter Jr. couldn’t quite protect the lead in the sixth, with Santiago Espinal doubling one home to tie the game at four.

The contest remained even until the ninth, where Bellinger and Christopher Morel stacked a couple of doubles off Jordan Hicks to push back in front:

Adbert Alzolay worked a 1-2-3 ninth to secure his 16th save. Improbably, if the season ended today, the Cubs would be in a playoff spot.

Tampa Bay Rays (71-48) 6, Cleveland Guardians (56-62) 5

Another barnburner down in Tampa. A day after walking off Cleveland, the Rays walked off the Guardians again in a thriller.

Yet it didn’t look as though the Rays would be celebrating on this night, trailing up until the ninth inning. Rookie starter Gavin Williams was excellent for Cleveland, allowing one run across five innings while striking out 10 and walking none. Meanwhile, the Guardians offense was able to produce consistently through the game, taking a 5-2 lead to the bottom of the eighth, hanging three runs on Erasmo Ramirez and two on Josh Fleming.

Then the Rays started to charge. Luke Raley doubled home a run in the eighth, but the Guardians still carried a 5-3 lead to the ninth, typically a highly-advantageous scenario with Emmanuel Clase looming.

Yet the usually great Clase faltered. After a leadoff single, Yandy Díaz double home a run to bring the Rays within one. Clase had Cleveland within an out after striking out Wander Franco, but also put the tying run on third with a wild pitch. Brandon Lowe brought it home with a single:

Crucially, Lowe stole second to put Tampa on the precipice. Randy Arozarena followed with a sinking liner to right, one that Steven Kwan came agonizingly close to corralling:

Instead, the ball found turf, and Tampa found a second-consecutive walk-off win.

Baltimore Orioles (72-45) 1, Seattle Mariners (63-53) 0

Perhaps this makes me an old man yelling at a cloud, but something about this Orioles win irked me. For nine innings, neither side could force the other to submit. Cole Irvin fired five shutout innings for Baltimore, before giving way to a bullpen that continued to hold the line against the Mariners.

For Seattle, young George Kirby was simply superb. The right-hander authored perhaps the finest performance of his life, shutting the Orioles out over nine innings, striking out seven, walking none, and yielding three hits, all singles. It was a masterpiece, and his work helped send the game into extra innings in a total stalemate.

And then the stalemate was broken by a zombie runner artificially placed on second base. In the top of the tenth, Ryan Mountcastle singled home Cedric Mullins, a man who would not have been running the bases but for a rule that magically made him appear there through no work of his own.

To his credit, dominant closer Félix Bautista mowed down the Mariners in the home half of the tenth, striking out the side to ensure Seattle’s zombie runner went nowhere fast. Each side can only play by the rules they are given, and the Orioles prevailed on this night.

To see such a tense, well-fought game ended in such an artificial manner just felt wrong. Perhaps it’s just me, but it seemed a shame that we couldn’t watch this pair of exciting teams, both clawing for playoff position, play the contest to a natural conclusion, instead of seeing it hastily ushered home by a cartoonish rule.

Houston Astros (68-50) 11, Los Angeles Angels (58-60) 3

The Astros are just about firing on all cylinders now, and the Angels are still sliding. After cruising in the first game of the series, the Astros won their fifth in six games to clinch the series, by a score of 11-3 for the second straight night.

J.P. France, making his first start after being sent to the bullpen for a couple weeks, dealt in his return, holding the Angels to four hits and two runs over seven innings. Tyler Anderson was entirely unable to keep pace, with the Astros smashing him for seven runs over 4.2 innings. Plenty has gone wrong for Anaheim this year, and making Anderson their key pitching pickup last winter ranks among it all, with the lefty seeing his ERA rise to 5.28 on the year.

Leading 7-2, the Astros hung a four-spot on Jaime Barria in the eighth for good measure. Kyle Tucker stayed red-hot, leading with the way with a 3-for-4 night and four RBI, including a three-run bomb in the fourth:

José Altuve also went 3-for-4, while Alex Bregman chipped in two hits and two RBI. The win keeps the pressure on the AL-West leading Rangers, who sit 2.5 games clear.

Texas Rangers (70-47) 9, San Francisco Giants (62-55) 2

The key moment in this game might’ve come in the second inning. With the game tied 1-1, Andrew Heaney issued two walks and yielded a single to load the bases. With one down, Bruce Bochy wasted no time, immediately yanking Heaney in favor of reliever Grant Anderson.

The swift maneuver worked, with Anderson quickly inducing an inning-ending double play to extinguish the threat. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense was having little trouble seeing Alex Cobb. Texas got the veteran right-hander for six runs over 4.1 innings, with Corey Seager driving in two and Mitch Garver tallying three RBI.

Anderson would yield just one run over 2.2 innings in relief of Heaney, while three more relievers after him would hold San Francisco to a single run. Bochy’s workings were unconventional, but they paid off in another easy Texas win.

Other Games:

Detroit Tigers (53-64) 6, Boston Red Sox (60-55) 2: Boston looked a good bet in this one on paper, with the Red Sox tossing talented young right Brayan Bello out against a struggling Matt Manning. But Manning held Boston to an unearned run over 5.1 innings, while Detroit knocked Bello for nine hits and four runs over 4.2 frames. Kerry Carpenter starred with a pair of dingers, while Eric Haase and Spencer Torkelson also homered. All the dingers were of the solo variety, but they were enough to down the Red Sox.

AL Central Rock Fight

Minnesota Twins (61-58) 8, Philadelphia Phillies (65-53) 1

Pablo López lead the way for Minnesota, firing six shutout innings with seven strikeouts against just one walk. Joey Gallo starred on offense, going 4-for-4 with two homers and four RBI. It’s been a pretty classic Gallo season, with 20 homers and a .185 average for the lefty swinger on the year. Matt Wallner and Carlos Correa also homered for the Twins, who now sport a hefty 4.5-game lead in the AL Central.