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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros stun O’s with last-minute slam

The Yankees gained ground around the division for once following a spectacle in the ninth at Camden.

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Yankees had themselves a bit of a wakeup day after Monday’s self-inflicted wound, coasting to an early 4-0 lead and sufficiently backing up their second-best pitcher after failing to do so for their ace. That’s all well and good, but at this point the Yankees’ rivals are going to dictate their playoff push more than they themselves will, so let’s get right into what went down around the league last night:

Houston Astros (65-49) 7, Baltimore Orioles (70-43) 6

This matchup features a win-lose regardless of result, though at this point in time the Yankees probably are better off rooting for their own division leaders if it helps them get back in the Wild Card race. The Orioles were willing to comply early, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a Ryan Mountcastle homer and a 5-0 advantage after two thanks to an Adley Rutschman bomb as well.

The Astros didn’t go quietly, though they didn’t fare well against O’s starter Grayson Rodriguez. The rookie went six innings and only got into trouble in the third inning, when Kyle Tucker singled home a run and Yainer Diaz lifted a sac fly for a second score. Baltimore scored one back in the fourth on a James McCann sac fly, and then prevented a run in the fifth when Jorge Mateo robbed Yordan Alvarez of a home run to straightaway center. It was all going Baltimore’s way, even when the bullpen entered the game and eventually gave up one run in the eighth.

Then came the ninth inning, and closer Felix Bautista was summoned for the save. Bautista’s had an incredible year, even earning talk of placing on the Cy Young Award rankings at the end of the season, but he simply didn’t have it this night. His outing started off with a walk to Jon Singleton, and Jose Altuve followed with a single. Bautista managed to strike out Alex Bregman, but Mateo couldn’t rob Alvarez of another well-struck ball to the wall in center setting up a bases-loaded situation with just one out. Tucker walked up as the go-ahead run, and did this:

That blast nearly doubled Bautista’s ERA, jumping it to 1.52, but more importantly it vaulted Houston into the lead. Ryan Pressley worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to close out the comeback win for the Astros, who remain six games ahead of the Yanks in the Wild Card standings.

Tampa Bay Rays (69-46) 4, St. Louis Cardinals (49-65) 2

Are you in the mood for more comebacks? Well I hope you are, because we had another one here in the Trop. St. Louis staked out a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Nolan Arenado shot, but from there it became a pitchers’ duel between Zach Eflin and Miles Mikolas. Both pitchers went seven strong, but Mikolas buckled late whereas Eflin only got beat the one time early.

In the seventh inning, Isaac Paredes broke the shutout with a solo shot to left field. The Cardinals opted to leave Mikolas in for the eighth, but got burned for it when he allowed a leadoff triple to Josh Lowe. That prompted Oliver Marmol to yank his starter, but Yandy Diaz managed to bring home the go-ahead run against Andre Pallante. Pallante’s job further got complicated by a string of three straight singles after Diaz’s, ballooning the lead to 4-1. Willson Contreras got one run back in the ninth on a solo shot, but the Cards otherwise went down without a fight.

Cleveland Guardians (55-59) 1, Blue Jays (64-51) 0

Hey, it wasn’t all bad for the Yankees’ scoreboard watching efforts on Tuesday. The Guardians got elevated from Rock Fight status to go up against the Jays, and their pitching staff put on a masterclass. Tanner Bibee got the start in this one and he pitched seven shutout frames, scattering six hits and walking none while striking out six. Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase came out of the ‘pen after Bibee threw his 100th pitch and continued to match his energy, with the latter earning his 30th save of the year.

As for the offense, Yusei Kikuchi mostly held serve as well. He went seven strong to match Bibee, but he got beat back in the second inning when Ramon Laureano (fresh off his DFA from the A’s) slapped an RBI double for the only run of the game. Kikuchi was overall better at preventing baserunners, but he allowed the only extra-base hit of the game and it cost him.

Texas Rangers (68-46) 6, Oakland Athletics (32-82) 1

Oh Oakland, I pity you whenever I have to highlight you in an extended fashion. Former Yankee JP Sears was the victim of this outing, getting rocked by Texas’ elite offense for four runs in four innings. Surprisingly, none of the nine hits he coughed up were homers, but they still managed to collect three doubles in the fourth to do a major of the damage. Adrián Martínez succeeded him out of the ‘pen and pitched 4.2 innings mostly just soaking up the remainder of the game, allowing two more runs and a Corey Seager bomb in the process.

Meanwhile, Max Scherzer made his second start since getting traded to the Rangers, and this one predictably went a little better. Scherzer tossed seven innings and made just one mistake when JJ Bleday led off the fourth with a homer. He’s gotten two softball opponents in the White Sox and A’s to start off his Rangers career, but so far so good for Mad Max.

Other Games:

Seattle Mariners (61-52) 2, San Diego Padres (55-59) 0: The Padres opted for a bullpen game and got three solid innings from opener Nick Martinez, but it went south fast once Scott Barlow entered the game in relief. The former Royal hasn’t acclimated well at all since getting traded at the deadline, allowing nine runs in 4.2 innings since the deal, and that figure includes a run in his 1.1 innings here as well. Logan Gilbert tossed seven shutout opposite him, striking out 12 batters with just one hit against him.

Kansas City Royals (37-78) 9, Boston Red Sox (58-55): A big thanks to the Royals for barely pushing the Yankees out of the AL East cellar with this thrashing of the Sox. Kutter Crawford gave up three runs in 3.1 innings, and aside from Brennan Bernardino’s 0.2 clean innings the other relievers that followed followed suit over similar amounts of work.

Los Angeles Angels (57-58) 7, San Francisco Giants 5 (62-52): Congrats to the Angels for finally getting a win after the trade deadline, after just eight attempts. Los Angeles bought in on Shohei Ohtani’s final guaranteed year there and in predictable fashion the Angels have Angel’d their way down in the standings, but they erupted to support deadline acquisition Lucas Giolito in his second start for the Halos. He pitched a quality game this time around, tossing six innings and allowing three runs in the process and holding onto the 4-0 lead his team gifted him after the first inning.

AL Central Rock Fight:

Detroit Tigers (50-63) 6, Minnesota Twins (60-55) 0

Sonny Gray was equal parts effective and hittable, collecting 10 strikeouts but spraying seven hits over the field in the process over six innings. It was far from a poor start, but unfortunately the Twins offense wanted no part in helping him, getting shut down by Eduardo Rodriguez for seven frames before the Tigers ‘pen closed the game out.