It might come as a shock, but the Yankees actually won a game on Friday night, and it was against a formidable opponent too. The Tampa Bay Rays are no slouch of a team. And while Gerrit Cole pitched an incredible game to keep Tampa at bay, there were some other exciting games happening around the American League. Let’s take a look.
Wild Card Mix
Cleveland Guardians (61-68) 5, Toronto Blue Jays (70-59) 2
In a big game between two AL teams, there was no shortage of fun offensive and defensive plays for both sides. George Springer got the show started with a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning, but in the top of the third, Bo Naylor came back with a solo shot of his own. He is the first Canadian-born player ever to hit a home run in his first plate appearance in a Canadian MLB stadium. The Jays had to play some major defense in the top of the third as well, with Whit Merrifield throwing down Steven Kwan at home plate from right field to keep the game tied at 1-1.
It didn’t matter much, though, because Ramón Laureano hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth inning to give the Guardians a 3-1 lead. The Jays got some players on base, but just like Merrifield in the first, they managed to throw Vladimir Guerrero Jr. out at the plate as he was trying to reach from first base on a double down the line. Laureano came up to bat again and gave the Guardians some insurance with an RBI double in the top of the sixth, and even with a Guerrero solo shot a half-inning later, that would end up being all the Jays would get, as Andrés Giménez struck the final blow with a solo home run in the top of the eighth.
Detroit Tigers (59-69) 4, Houston Astros (72-58) 1
Despite the score of this game looking like the Tigers had a solid lead over a very good Astros team, it was tight until the very end. The first couple of innings were filled with some impressive defensive highlights like an Andy Ibáñez diving stop at second base on a Yordan Alvarez groundball, and Kyle Tucker had a gorgeous yet nonchalant home run robbery as well. The scoring got started with an RBI single from Jose Altuve in the top of the third to give the Astros a 1-0 lead, which they would hold for most of the game on the back of seven no-hit innings from starter Framber Valdez.
The no-hit bid would end, however, after Valdez was taken out for the reliever Bryan Abreu in the eighth. Kerry Carpenter was the culprit, hitting a groundball between first and second base. The Tigers wouldn’t score a run in that inning, though. Instead, it happened in the bottom of the ninth with two outs left when Javy Báez hit a game-tying single with two runners on. Then, recently-promoted rookie Parker Meadows became the hero for the Tigers, winning the game with a walk-off three-run home run.
Los Angeles Dodgers (79-48) 7, Boston Red Sox (68-61) 4
After a beatdown of the Houston Astros, the Red Sox played the Dodgers in Mookie Betts’ first game back in Fenway since he was traded. The Sox got out to a 3-0 lead on two homers — a leadoff shot from Alex Verdugo in the first and Trevor Story’s first home run of the season in the second. It took a few innings for the Dodgers to get the offense rolling, but after a Betts double off the Green Monster in their half of the sixth, Los Angeles took control. They tied the game up in the sixth, and in the top of the seventh, they scored three more runs, one off the bat of Freddie Freeman, who had a four-hit showing, and two off the bat of Max Muncy. Both of those hits were doubles.
The Red Sox would manage to score a run off an error shortly after the seventh-inning stretch, but that was all they would be able to muster for the rest of the game. In the top of the ninth, David Peralta lifted a sacrifice fly off John Schreiber, bringing home Freeman, and Evan Phillips secured the win for the Dodgers.
Seattle Mariners (72-56) 7, Kansas City Royals (41-89) 5
The Mariners and Royals managed to keep things close until the very end of this game. The game got off to a hot start in Seattle thanks to JP Crawford’s 432-foot leadoff bomb off Royals starter Brady Singer, and Cal Raleigh was able to add on another run in the bottom of the first on a ball that dunked in between the left fielder and the shortstop for a single. In the top of the second, the Royals came back to tie the game. Nelson Velázquez hit an RBI single through the right side of the infield and when Seattle starter Bryce Miller attempted a pickoff play at first, he threw the ball away and MJ Melendez scored from third base.
The Royals weren’t done in the top of the second. Kyle Isbel hit an RBI single through the right side of the infield and the Royals scored on a close play at home. But from the bottom of the fourth, the Mariners would take the lead and wouldn’t look back. Eugenio Suárez hit a two RBI single to left field to put the M’s up by one. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Teoscar Hernández scored on a wild pitch and Josh Rojas hit an RBI single to put the Mariners up 6-3. Isbel would mash a two-run homer to put the Royals back within one in the top of the seventh, but another RBI for Suárez in the form of an eighth-inning double would seal the deal.
Baltimore Orioles (80-48) 5, Colorado Rockies (48-80) 4
The Orioles keep on keeping on, and with a Rays loss to the Yankees tonight, they’re able to separate just a little bit more from the second-place team in the AL East. Although the Rockies aren’t the greatest of teams (to be kind), they gave Baltimore a run for its money.
The O’s got on the scoreboard first with an unusual home run from Ryan Mountcastle. His ball to right field looked to hit off the top of the wall, and he hustled to third despite the first base umpire declaring it a home run. The Rockies outfielder got the ball to the third baseman, still under the impression that the play was alive, but it went past him and out of play, allowing Mountcastle to take home uncontested anyway and giving Baltimore the lead. Gunnar Henderson made the Orioles lead 2-0 with a sacrifice fly into center field.
In the top of the third inning, the Rockies cut the deficit in half when Elias Díaz hit a double down the third base line, and Charlie Blackmon hustled all the way around the bases to home. Colorado’s Alan Trejo hit a sacrifice fly to center field just like Henderson did, and the game was quickly 2-2. In the next inning, the Rockies brought in two more runners to take the lead. Ezequiel Tovar smashed a ball 392 feet to right field, and things were looking good for the visitors.
But if we know the Orioles, we know that they don’t give up. They’re a young team that takes good at-bats and are usually pesky when they’re down in games. First, Austin Hays stepped to the plate and hit a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth inning off Freeland, which ended up bouncing off the top of the wall and into the stands. Then, it was Henderson with a powerful swing on a hanging slider in the eighth that plated two more runs to give the O’s their lead back.
While Baltimore ended up winning the game, not everything was fine and dandy. Félix Bautista, the team’s All-Star closer and one of the best in baseball, had to leave the game due to an injury he sustained throwing a 102-mph fastball that ended way outside the strike zone. So, the hope is that the injury isn’t too serious and Bautista can get back on the mound as the Orioles try to solidify themselves at the top of the AL East at season’s end.
Minnesota Twins (67-62) 12, Texas Rangers (72-56) 2
Things went a little nuts in Minnesota tonight. Both of these teams are competing for the top of their respective divisions in the AL, but only one of them looked like a true division contender tonight, and it wasn’t the one with the better record. Dane Dunning didn’t start the game off smoothly at all, allowing four runs in the first inning, including a three-run triple, and despite a Mitch Garver solo home run in the top o the second inning for the Rangers, they couldn’t get anything to go at all. Sonny Gray pitched very well, with only one run allowed and no walks in seven innings of work. Carlos Correa clubbed a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, Edouard Julien soon followed with a three-run bomb in (along with a couple of RBI singles from teammates), and Max Kepler’s solo shot in the eighth really put the nail in the coffin.