Yesterday morning, Madison introduced our new somewhat-shortened Rivalry Roundup, but here’s the skinny in case you missed it. To keep us from going too long on what might only garner so much attention at this point, we’re only writing a paragraph or two about each of these games and keeping the focus on the Wild Card hunt.
The Angels were ahead of the Yankees as of the time we made those changes, but we’re still not tracking them since they’re essentially as much of a long shot as our own beleaguered Bombers. The Guardians are also out since in the AL Central the Twins now have a bigger division lead than any other team in the Junior Circuit. None of us are under any delusions that the Yankees are actually going to get back into it, but we might as well keep track for our own curiosity as baseball fans, right?
With that out of the way, let’s get to the games.
Wild Card Mix
Toronto Blue Jays (70-56) 6, Baltimore Orioles (77-48) 3 (10 innings)
Right off the bat, we’re confusing the format because normally the division-leading O’s would comfortably fit in the second section, but the Jays carry priority since they’re in the Wild Card race. For any neutral observer, this would’ve been a terrific contest to watch at Camden Yards, as the two sides battled to a 3-3 tie after five that remained a standstill into extra innings.
It was a battle of the bullpens, which normally bodes well for Baltimore. But O’s skipper Brandon Hyde removed Félix Bautista despite only nine pitches in a shutout ninth, and Mike Baumann got immediately torched in the 10th for a two-run shot on a middle-middle fastball to Brandon Belt.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added an insurance run by doubling, advancing on a fly ball, and scoring on a wild one from Baumann. That was more than enough for Jordan Romano to save it, helping Toronto keep pace with Seattle in the Wild Card.
Seattle Mariners (71-55) 6, Chicago White Sox (49-77) 3
It would’ve been pretty funny to see the Pale Hose actually win on a day when they canned both their longtime EVP (Kenny Williams) and GM (Rick Hahn). But the Mariners are just too damn good right now. They won eight in a row from August 2nd through the 11th and now they’ve notched their second eight-game heater of the month. Much like the 2023 Yankees in the opposite direction, they’re doing something not seen since the early ‘80s:
the Mariners are the 1st team with multiple 8+ game winning streaks (unique streaks) within a calendar month since the Dodgers in July 2017— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) August 23, 2023
they’re the 1st team to do this with the month in question being *August or later* since:
the Orioles in August 1980
h/t @EliasSports https://t.co/pruSG67LSg
As for the game itself, old friend Mike Ford got the scoring started with an RBI knock to drive in Teoscar Hernández in the second, and J.P. Crawford singled in another. Then with Ford on first in the fourth, No. 9 hitter Josh Rojas went yard for a two-run shot. Some extra runs helped the Seattle bullpen rumble along in five innings of relief for Bryan Woo, and that was the ballgame.
Houston Astros (72-55) 7, Boston Red Sox (66-60) 3
I’d rather it happen against almost any other team, but it admittedly is pretty funny to see the Red Sox drop back-to-back ballgames to the Astros after going absolutely nuts celebrating a sweep over the moribund Yankees on Sunday. They weren’t even back in a Wild Card spot at that point or anything! But hey, congrats to them. What a remarkable achievement.
Anyway, Kyle Tucker kept the pressure on Boston in the wake of Monday’s 9-4 win by clobbering a two-run shot off Tanner Houck. A mental mistake leaving home plate vacant on a bunt that was only meant to advance the runners allowed Mauricio Dubón to score a third run in the fourth. Boston’s Mauricio (Llovera) did not have as good a night, and the four he coughed up in the seventh turned out to be the difference in the ballgame. It took the Red Sox until Justin Verlander’s departure to get back into it and by then, it was too late. The old man had already silenced them for six scoreless in his third win in three starts.
Tampa Bay Rays (76-51) 12, Colorado Rockies (48-77) 4
The Rockies had a 4-3 lead late in this one thanks to some sloppy pitching from Zack Littell and Colin Poche. But the Rays snatched it away in the eighth on RBI hits from Christian Bethancourt and Yandy Díaz before Colorado added its own sloppiness with an ugly error by left fielder Nolan Jones. That opened the floodgates, and a grand slam by Osleivis Basabe (his first career homer) iced it. The Rays are only two games back of Baltimore.
Milwaukee Brewers (69-57) 7, Minnesota Twins (65-61) 3
Welcome to the Central division leader showdown that probably represents Rob Manfred’s nightmare World Series. (So let’s root for it?) Minnesota carried a small 3-2 lead into the sixth before calling on reliever Dylan Floro. He wasted no time falling to pieces, allowing singles to six of his first seven hitters to grant Milwaukee a five-run frame.
Arizona Diamondbacks (66-61) 6, Texas Rangers (72-54) 3
Texas might not have a very long run in this category. They’ve held at least a share of first place for every day since April 8th, but with Zac Gallen fanning 11 Rangers in six innings of one-run ball, Jon Gray struggling, and a late rally coming up short, they lost their sixth game in a row. Although that’s not as ignominious as the 2023 Yankees, it’s enough to bring both Houston and Seattle to within a game of them in the AL West. Gulp!