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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Adley Rutschman carries Baltimore as O’s and Rays clinch

A couple of AL East rivals clinched on the same day on a topsy-turvy day in the AL.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Yankees made a go of it, for a bit, winning a chunk of series and winning 14 of 19 games. They narrowly slipped up in the final in Pittsburgh, however, so their slim chances fell into the hands of their rivals. There were plenty of close games and surprising results, and at the end of the day, a couple of the Yankees’ AL East foes punched their tickets to the postseason. Let’s take a look.

Toronto Blue Jays (83-67) 3, Boston Red Sox (74-76) 2

If the Yankees wanted to cling to their faint playoff hopes, they needed the archrival Red Sox to do them a solid and handle the Blue Jays. Instead, Boston was good for nothing, getting swept on the road in Toronto.

This was a tight one, with the Jays building a 2-0 lead thanks to Kevin Kiermaier’s sac fly in the second and Daulton Varsho’s solo homer in the fifth. Hyun-jin Ryu shut out the Red Sox for 4.2 innings before departing, and Boston couldn’t break through until the seventh, when Pablo Reyes managed an RBI single to get within 2-1.

Boston went to the ninth still trailing by one, and Rafael Devers stepped up to make the play:

Devers went up to get 97-mph heat from Erik Swanson and set it out oppo to tie the game. But in the home half, after Cavan Biggio singled, Matt Chapman crushed one to the wall in center, bringing Biggio home to walk it off:

The Jays were flagging for a bit there, but a resounding sweep of Boston has them back in control with two weeks remaining.

Baltimore Orioles (93-56) 5, Tampa Bay Rays (92-58) 4 (11 innings)

A matchup between the AL’s top teams didn’t disappoint. The two sides played four games and split them, with each team winning one blowout and one thriller. Sunday proved to be an exciting win for Baltimore that pushed them into the postseason for the first time in seven years.

Baltimore and Tampa both actually clinched before this game ended, by virtue of a Rangers loss that we’ll get to shortly. But the contest itself was a back-and-forth affair. Starters Zack Littell and Dean Kremer matched each other with one-run outings, and we went to eighth with the game tied at one.

The Rays made their move first, with Tristan Gray and Christian Bethancourt smashing solo homers to give Tampa a 3-1 lead. Adley Rutschman responded in the bottom half with a solo dinger of his own to cut the lead in half, but the Orioles still entered the ninth down a run.

Tampa nearly added to their lead in the ninth, but a nifty tag from Rutschman nabbed Josh Lowe trying to score from third:

The Rays got within a strike in the bottom of the ninth, but in a 1-2 count with two down, Adam Frazier grounded a double down the line, scoring Jorge Mateo from first to tie the game at three. Tampa went ahead by a run in the tenth, but again, with two outs, the O’s saved themselves, with Rutchsman grounding a single to tie the game once more:

DL Hall pitched a scoreless 11th, giving Baltimore a clear opening. This time, the events were a little less thrilling, as the Orioles used a sac bunt and a sac fly to walk it off:

There is at least some poetry to Rutschman, the face of the Orioles’ present and future, and Mullins, Baltimore’s shining light through their dark recent past, combining to win the game as the team clinched.

Minnesota Twins (80-71) 4, Chicago White Sox (57-93) 0

Nearing an AL Central title, the Twins took care of business to secure a series win over the moribund White Sox. Sonny Gray was stellar, staying in the AL Cy Young race by tossing seven shutout innings, with five hits and zero walks against six strikeouts. Eduoard Julien provided the needed offense, with a three-run homer off of erstwhile Chicago ace Dylan Cease in the fifth:

The Twins maintained their seven-game division cushion over the Guardians with 12 games to play.

Houston Astros (84-66) 7, Kansas City Royals (48-102) 1

A sweep at the hands of the Royals would’ve been an embarrassing development for the defending champs, and they avoided that fate with a much more normal-seeming 7-1 win in KC.

Down 1-0 in the third, José Abreu tied the game with a sac fly, and Chas McCormick singled one home for a lead Houston wouldn’t relinquish. Jake Meyers and Yordan Alvarez added solo homers later in the game, while José Altuve and McCormick each collected three hits on the day.

Framber Valdez turned in a great start, holding the Royals to one unearned run over seven innings, allowing five hits and one walk. Houston still holds a narrow one-game lead out in the AL West.

Cleveland Guardians (71-78) 9, Texas Rangers (82-66) 2

The last thing the Rangers could afford to do was get swept away by an also-ran Cleveland club, and yet here we are. A flat-out disastrous fourth inning doomed Texas and kept them from moving closer to a playoff spot.

José Ramírez started the fourth off for the Guardians with a majestic solo homer off Cody Bradford. Sunday was Ramirez’s 31st birthday, and the dinger was his fourth homer he’s hit on his birthday:

Andrés Giménez and Tyler Freeman chipped in RBI singles, and Gabriel Arias singled home two to put Cleveland up 5-1. Steven Kwan singled home another, and Ramírez came up again and delivered an RBI groundout. Giménez also got a second chance to do damage, and delivered a two-run double in his second at-bat of the inning.

When the dust cleared, Cleveland led 9-1. Bradford took the brunt of it, exiting with a six-run, three-inning line, while Jonathan Hernandez surrendered the final three runs. There would be no rally, and Texas fell 9-2. The Rangers still have a good shot at the postseason, but they’d be in the driver’s seat if they could’ve taken care of business in this series.

Los Angeles Dodgers (91-57) 6, Seattle Mariners (81-68) 1

It simply was not the best weekend for the trio of contenders in the AL West. The Mariners played host to the buzzsaw that is the Los Angeles Dodgers, and were far too gracious with their hospitality, getting swept away by LA.

The series finale looked like it would offer a prime opportunity for Seattle to grab a win, as the M’s sent Logan Gilbert to the mound to face a Dodgers lineup that was in full Clinch Hangover mode. But the Dodgers’ B-Team was all over Gilbert. Jason Heyward hit a solo shot in the first, his 15th of the year, and the Dodgers hung a three-spot on Gilbert in the third, thanks to a Kolten Wong RBI single and Austin Barnes’ two-run shot.

Heyward added an RBI single in the fifth, as Gilbert finished with five innings and five runs allowed. Meanwhile, a makeshift pitching strategy worked to perfection for the Dodgers. Journeyman Shelby Miller opened with a scoreless inning, and Ryan Yarbrough was excellent as follower, striking out seven in 4.2 innings of one-run ball.

Even with their backups, sometimes the Dodgers make it look easy. The M’s remain one game back of the Rangers for the third Wild Card, and now are 2.5 back of the Astros for the division crown.