The most predictable outcome came to pass, with the Yankees getting swept out of Atlanta in miserable fashion. While the Yankees were playing lifeless baseball, some actually quality athletics was happening across the AL. For what it’s worth, the Yankees didn’t slip much further back in the playoff race, and there were happenings that impacted one of the last storylines remaining in this Yankees season: that of Gerrit Cole’s Cy Young candidacy. Let’s take a look.
Philadelphia Phillies (66-55) 9, Toronto Blue Jays (67-55) 4
Coming off a pitchers’ duel on Tuesday night, you’d have thought we might be in line for an encore, with aces Aaron Nola and Kevin Gausman facing off. But it wasn’t meant to be, with Philly surprisingly taking the typically-excellent Gausman to task to take both ends of this two game-set.
The Jays also had success against Nola, putting up two-spots in the second and third innings, thanks to a two-run dinger from Daulton Varsho and a two-run single from Cavan Biggio, to take a 4-2 lead. But Gausman couldn’t protect the advantage. His control abandoned him in the fifth, as he walked Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber, then hung a slider to Nick Castellanos, which Castellanos obliterated for a two-run double:
The Phillies added another run in the fifth on an error to a take a 5-4 lead. Gausman returned for the sixth, and put two more runners on before finally being relieved by Tim Mayza. Mayza allowed both inherited runners to score, leaving Gausman’s line at seven runs in 5.1 innings, and leaving the Jays down 7-4. Gausman is a contender for the AL Cy Young award, so his struggles do boast Gerrit Cole’s chances just a bit.
Bryce Harper added a solo homer in the ninth, his second of the game, to bring the score to its final at 9-4. Matt Strahm, Craig Kimbrel, and Gregory Soto wear near-perfect in relief, shutting down Toronto after Nola departed. The Jays remain 6.5 games ahead of the Bombers.
Houston Astros (70-52) 12, Miami Marlins (63-59) 5
Justin Verlander wasn’t at his best in his third start since returning to the Astros, but it was no matter, as the Houston lineup exploded twice to down the Marlins.
In the first inning, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, and Chas McCormick all homered, while Mauricio Dubon added an RBI double as the Astros hung a five-spot on poor Jesús Luzardo. Houston could only manage one more run before the seventh, but there, they took Jorge López to task. Bregman and Tucker each drove in two more as part of a six-run inning, expanding a 6-5 lead to 12-5.
Verlander was shaky, allowing five runs, four earned, striking out two in five innings. He’s got a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings as an Astro this year, with 13 strikeouts against four walks. We’re still waiting to see vintage Verlander, though I’m sure it’ll take a few more shaky outings to get the Astros feeling truly concerned about their former and present ace.
Los Angeles Angels (60-62) 2, Texas Rangers (72-49) 0
It took a near-no-hitter, but the Angels didn’t let Shohei Ohtani Tungsten O’doyle this one, doing just enough to make their superstar’s efforts stand up. Talented young starter Reid Detmers no-hit Texas through 7.1 innings, though he did walk four batters in that span. He was excellent on the whole, with Marcus Semien’s double in the eighth at last chasing him.
Detmers left with a 1-0 lead, thanks entirely to Ohtani’s 42nd homer of the year:
The Rangers had two on in the seventh thanks to a pair of walks, and had two on in the eighth, but couldn’t get the tying run home in either case, in the process wasting a seven-inning one-run effort from Jon Gray. The Angels tacked on an insurance run in the top of the ninth off of Matt Thaiss’ solo homer. Closer Carlos Estévez put the first two runners on in the ninth, but buckled down to close things out from there.
Out of Reach
San Diego Padres (58-63) 5, Baltimore Orioles (74-47) 2: On days where things click for the Padres, they remind you of why they were a popular preseason pick to top the NL this year. Blake Snell continued his stellar 2023, holding Baltimore to three hits and two runs over six. Trent Grisham homered, and Fernando Tatis Jr. provided the highlight with a straight steal of home:
Josh Hader handled the ninth for his 27th save, lowering his ERA to 0.84 in the process. On some nights, the Padres really are electric. These nights just haven’t quite come often enough for them this year.
San Francisco Giants (64-57) 1, Tampa Bay Rays (73-50) 6:The Rays bounced back from a blowout Tuesday night, mashing the Giants to grab a series win in a rare trip to San Francisco, Tampa hit three homers, one from Josh Lowe, one from Brandon Lowe, and an inside-the-park job from Luke Raley. Raley crushed one to the deep part of Oracle Park in right-center, with the ball caroming wildly off the wall and into center field:
Aaron Civale pitched six scoreless to earn his first win as a Ray.
James Paxton and Mackenzie Gore dueled throughout this one, with the youngster besting the vet. Paxton managed six solid, allowing two runs, both on solo homers. Gore was excellent, shutting out the Red Sox over 6.1 innings, striking out seven walking two, and allowing a lone hit. Jordan Weems relieved Gore and let the Red Sox back into it with two runs in the top of the eighth, but the Nats broke out for four of their own in the home half, with Keibert Ruiz leading the way with a tiebreaking three-run homer.
Once again, the Mariners were part of a tight game that saw some exciting late fireworks. Luis Castillo wasn’t at his best, allowing four runs and nine hits, though he did work seven innings. The M’s put three on opener James McArthur in the first, but could only manage one against follower Alec Marsh, and the game went to the eighth tied at four. There, Seattle loaded the bases with one down for Teoscar Hernández, who just barely drove in the go-ahead run on a sac fly:
Seattle picked up a needed insurance run in the top of the ninth, as Matt Brash surrendered a solo homer to Nelson Velazquez in the home half before retiring the next three batters for his third save.
AL Central Rock Fight
The Twins suffered a tough loss, blowing a 4-0 lead thanks to two homers from Spencer Torkelson, as well as dingers from Kerry Carpenter and Riley Greene. Then, Minnesota nearly rallied, scoring three runs in the ninth on two dingers to pull within one after trailing 8-7, but Donovan Solano grounded into a double play to end the game. Meanwhile, the Guardians went down meekly, dropping two of three in Cincinnati. Noah Syndergaard’s struggles continued, with six runs allowed in 4.1 innings. Matt McClain homered and drove in three, while Stuart Fairchild went deep and drove in a pair. Minnesota’s lead in the AL Central remains at 4.5 games.