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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Lots of losses

Recapping how the Yankees’ top AL opponents fared on September 1st.

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

There was no Rivalry Roundup on PSA yesterday due to a lack of any American League rivals actually doing anything. The Yankees and Tigers were the only Junior Circuit teams to even play on Thursday!

Last night was the beginning of September though, so that made for a busy, busy day with a lot of nail-biting baseball now that the pennant stretch is in its final swing. If only the Yankees were more relevant! Oh well. We know what happened with them, the Astros, and the debuts of both Jasson Domínguez (holy cow) and Austin Wells. How about elsewhere?

Wild Card Mix

Toronto Blue Jays (74-61) 13, Colorado Rockies (49-85) 9

Twenty-two combined runs is a perfect Coors Field score, and both sides brought the pop. The Rockies jumped ahead 2-0 on a shot by Elehuris Montero, and Toronto countered by tying it up on dingers from Brandon Belt and Ernie Clement. A third Blue Jays bomb, from Danny Jansen, put them up, 4-2. But Jansen had to leave the game that same inning with what turned out to be a fractured finger, putting the rest of the catcher’s 2023 in jeopardy.

A three-run homer from Nolan Jones actually put Colorado ahead, 5-4. Since the Rockies are the Rockies though, the lead was brief. No one in their bullpen could seem the quiet the Jays as they dropped nine runs across the final three innings. The biggest blows came in the seventh, when rookie Davis Schneider tied it on a double, Alejandro Kirk (pinch-hitting for Jansen) cleared the bases with another to make it 8-5, and Whit Merrifield got in on the two-bag fun as well.

The only downside is that our old friend Chad Green looked terrible in his first MLB appearances since Tommy John surgery ended his Yankees career in June 2022. Of the seven batters Green faced, five got hits, and closer Jordan Romano needed to enter to secure the final out. Still, Toronto gained a game on all of its top Wild Card rivals, and they’re 1.5 games back of the Rangers for the third spot.

Kansas City Royals (42-94) 13, Boston Red Sox (69-66) 2

Boston might very well remain ahead of the Yankees for the rest of the season (they are welcome to prove otherwise), but they’re probably going to exit the Rivalry Roundup shortly. They’ve now dropped five in a row, sit 6.5 games back in the Wild Card, and just endured a humiliating loss to one of the worst teams in baseball.

Chaim Bloom is likely continuing to kick himself for not trading James Paxton at the deadline. The former Yankees southpaw had been great in his Tommy John surgery comeback but was bad in August (5.84 ERA in five starts), and he began September by getting walloped by the Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. and Salvador Perez homered in two-run first and that was Paxton’s best inning.

Kansas City knocked Paxton out with a four-run second, and Salvy added a second homer to his night with Boston reliever Brandon Walter also looking dreadful. It’s been a long year for the 15-loss Jordan Lyles, but the Red Sox made KC’s innings-eater-in-chief look like Bret Saberhagen. He threw seven shutout innings before a couple garbage time runs crossed home in the eighth.

Division Contenders

New York Mets (62-73) 2, Seattle Mariners (76-58) 1

Domínguez stole the spotlight, but the Mets called up their own highly-regarded prospect in Ronny Mauricio and he rewarded them with a two-hit night in his MLB debut. The Amazins used other sources to beat Seattle, though. Kodai Senga was brilliant with 12 strikeouts across his 7 innings, a solo shot by Brandon Nimmo knotted it at 1-1, and former Mariners DH Daniel Vogelbach turned the screws on his former team with an eighth-inning RBI single. This was a missed opportunity for Seattle, who really should be winning these games and also saw pinch-runner José Caballero get picked off in the doomed ninth. Rough.

Minnesota Twins (70-65) 5, Texas Rangers (75-59) 1

The once-rolling Rangers have gone 3-11 since the middle of August to bring the AL West back into a three-team race, and even with both Seattle and Houston losing last night, they couldn’t take advantage. They remained a game back of the first-place tie, wasting six shutout innings of one-hit ball from Max Scherzer. Corey Seager’s homer gave him a slim 1-0 lead that he entrusted to the Texas bullpen.

The Texas bullpen — specifically Brock Burke and Josh Sborz — responded with a mini-Home Run Derby:

The dingers from Jordan Luplow, Christian Vázquez, and Jorge Polanco put Minnesota up, 5-1, and the Twins bullpen was perfect.

Arizona Diamondbacks (70-65) 4, Baltimore Orioles (83-51) 2

It was a minor upset in the desert, as Blue Jays alum Lourdes Gurriel Jr. greeted his former division rival with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first that snatched a short-lived 1-0 lead away from the O’s. Zach Davies held the team that once drafted him to the one run while Arizona waited out Cole Irvin and got another two-run dinger, this time from Christian Walker (another former O’s prospect) in the sixth.

Gunnar Henderson might have turned a truly ridiculous double play, but with only one more Oriole denting home plate, it wasn’t enough on Friday.

Cleveland Guardians (65-70) 3, Tampa Bay Rays (82-53) 2

None of the Guardians’ waiver claims pitched and the Twins won anyway to remain five games up, but for their part, Cleveland got its “Hail Mary” division title run off on the right foot. The Rays carried a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Tyler Glasnow uncharacteristically caused problems. Andrés Giménez led off with a single, stole second, and moved to third on a fly ball. Gabriel Arias drove him in with a hit to left, and rookie Bo Naylor plated him with a gapper.

Cleveland’s Trevor Stephan stranded the tying run in scoring position in the eighth by striking out Josh Lowe and inducing a fly out from Isaac Paredes. Emmanuel Clase slammed the door in order to save it.