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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: O’s take over in Houston

The old guard hasn’t been able to keep pace with 2023’s breakthrough team this week.

Baltimore Orioles v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Yankees fell flat in the opener of their last homestand, dropping a 7-1 contest against the Blue Jays that matters far more for the visiting team at the moment. The Jays are doing their best to claw their way ahead of the pack in the Wild Card chase, and they sit just a game ahead of the AL West teams that are doing their best to make this easier for them.

Baltimore Orioles (95-56) 9, Houston Astros (84-68) 5

Let’s lead off with the most interesting matchup, shall we? These two played a nail-biter on Monday, but Tuesday saw the upstart O’s take control. Ryan O’Hearn got them on the board first with a two-run shot in the first inning, and the Astros countered with a two-run Kyle Tucker bomb in the bottom frame. However, Baltimore took over for good in the third with a three-run jack off the bat of Austin Hays.

But why settle for one homer, when you can hit two? After both teams scored a pair of runs in the sixth inning, Hays stepped up with a man-on in the seventh and cranked his second blast of the evening, giving the Orioles all the offense they’d need to match Houston by himself. And though Baltimore’s starting pitcher Kyle Gibson didn’t fare too well, going 4.2 innings with three runs tagged to him, the rest of the bullpen was nails — only one earned run came across on a Yainer Diaz homer.

Tampa Bay Rays (93-59) 6, Los Angeles Angels (68-83) 2

Randy Arozarena got the Rays the early 2-0 lead right away with a homer in the first inning, but the Angels clawed their way back with a pair of solo shots in the fourth and eighth innings to tie the game. Of course, just as soon as they managed that, Tampa put up a four-spot on them courtesy of a two-run double from unlikely hero Osleivis Basabe and a two-run single from Rene Pinto. Shawn Armstrong had no issues in the ninth to seal the win for the Rays who kept pace with Baltimore.

Minnesota Twins (80-72) 7, Cincinnati Reds (79-74) 0

Left to their own devices, the Twins took it to Cincinnati as they close in on the AL Central title. Kenta Maeda provided five shutout innings, striking out eight while allowing just two baserunners, and his offense gifted him a 2-0 lead by the time he exited. That lead doubled right away in the sixth when Edouard Julien and Jorge Polanco singled home runners, and Willi Castro tagged on two more with a homer in the seventh. Tired of giving up runs on hits, the Reds allowed the last run of the game to come home on a wild pitch instead.

Texas Rangers (83-68) 6, Boston Red Sox (75-77) 4

Boy, did the Rangers need this one. After emphatically reclaiming their place in the Wild Card race with a four-game sweep of Toronto, they immediately got swept by Cleveland and then dropped the opener of this series to Boston. They looked like they were heading towards continuing that trend too when they gave the Sox a 3-1 lead in the third inning, but Texas had a rally building in the middle innings.

Marcus Semien got it started with an RBI single in the fifth, and Jonah Heim tied the game with an RBI double in the sixth. Leody Taveras singled him home to give the Rangers a brief lead, but the Rangers’ defense failed them in the top of the seventh and gave a run right back. There was no panic, however, as Texas got the lead right back in the bottom half thanks to a single from the newly-returned Josh Jung and a bases-loaded walk to Heim. Aroldis Chapman tossed 1.2 innings to bridge the gap to Jose Leclerc, who converted the save without any drama.

Seattle Mariners (83-68) 7, Oakland Athletics (46-105) 2

Speaking of teams that could use a win, enter Seattle. Luckily for them, after running through the buzzsaw that is the Dodgers they had Oakland waiting for them on the schedule, and the results have been predictable. They shut them out on Monday, and on Tuesday Luis Castillo bullied his way through seven innings of work. Seattle only had a 2-0 lead for their ace until that seventh inning, when they broke through for four runs led by doubles from J.P. Crawford and Teoscar Hernandez.