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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Astros clobber Rangers, Twins score 20

Running through all the Labor Day action as the Yankees rested.

Houston Astros v Texas Rangers Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

After sweeping the Houston Astros in Minute Maid Park down south, the Yankees earned a day off before playing two games against the Detroit Tigers back in The Bronx. So let’s catch up on what the rest of the American League did while the Yankees were on their way back to the Big Apple.

Wild Card Mix

Toronto Blue Jays (76-62) 6, Oakland Athletics (42-96) 5

The Blue Jays managed to eke out a win in the first game of their three game-series against the A’s. The scoring started in the top of the fifth inning after catcher Alejandro Kirk scored on a double play, George Springer drove one in with a double, and Cavan Biggio hit an RBI single. An early 3-0 lead for one of the AL’s most exciting teams usually feels like enough against a club that has stumbled every step of the way, but today it wasn’t. In the home half of the fifth, Lawrence Butler hit a solo home run against José Berríos.

Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Noda hit another solo home run off of Berríos. To cap it off, the A’s tied the game at 3-3 with a solo shot from Jordan Diaz.

The game remained tied at three through the next two frames and into extras. In the top of the 10th, Santiago Espinal clubbed a double close to the third-base line to bring home the automatic runner from second base and give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. Biggio then hit a looping single to right-center field, which meant Espinal could come home, and the Jays added in one more run on a Spencer Horwitz double to the wall. Despite Butler hitting another home run for the A’s in the bottom of the 10th—a two-run home run that brought the game within one—it wasn’t enough to push the game any further.

Division Contenders

Boston Red Sox (72-66) 7, Tampa Bay Rays (83-55) 3

This was the first big game of a big series for the Red Sox, who are desperately clawing to stay in the Wild Card mix. It started just like many thought it might, the Rays took an early lead early in the game. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Tampa already had two runners on base, and Brandon Lowe brought them both across home plate. Harold Ramírez also hit a double down the third base line to bring Lowe across, which gave the Rays a 3-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, though, the Red Sox started their comeback. Adam Duvall started everything off by cranking a single to left field to bring in Rafael Devers, and in the top of the sixth, Triston Casas hit a three-run bomb off of Rays reliever Chris Devenski.

Aaron Civale was the Rays’ starter for this game, and despite the three runs counted against him (one from the Duvall single and two from the three-run homer), he pitched very well. He threw 5.1 innings, and he only allowed a total of two hits. He also struck out a dozen Red Sox, which was a career-high and the third time he has ever reached double-digit strikeout numbers in an outing.

Casas added an RBI single in the eighth, and shortly afterward, and Masataka Yoshida would put the final nail in the coffin with a two-run opposite-field home run that looked to barely go over the wall but was an impressive show of strength.

Cincinnati Reds (72-68) 6, Seattle Mariners (77-60) 3

The Reds came out of the gate hot, with Tejay Antone opening the game for his second appearance back on the mound after returning from Tommy John surgery. In the first two frames, the Reds went to tow. Elly De La Cruz brought TJ Friedl across home plate, and with De La Cruz on second and another runner (Nick Martini) on first, Hunter Renfroe hit a single to left to score the fastest man in baseball. Then, in the second, Spencer Steer launched a three-run bomb to center field, his 20th of 2023.

In the top of the fourth, Julio Rodríguez blasted a solo home run 411 feet to right-center field after Daniel Duarte left a 95-mph fastball right down the middle of the plate. He is the first player in MLB history to record 25 steals and 25 home runs in his first two seasons.

Former Yankee Mike Ford also hit a home run today to cut the Reds’ lead to three runs, which was his 15th of the season. After pitchers on both staffs were able to avoid jams and De La Cruz did the thing where he threw the ball really hard to first base and got a runner out, Tyler Stephenson brought home a runner on an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh for insurance.

Houston Astros (78-61) 13, Texas Rangers (76-61) 6

The Astros and the Rangers are at the top of the AL West (along with Seattle), and their battles this year have been full of exciting moments. This game was no different. Things started off hot in the bottom of the first, with Corey Seager hitting his 27th home run of the season, a monster two-run homer that went 453 feet to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Mitch Garver added to the Rangers lead with an RBI single. Things were looking good for Arlington’s team, but that was when the Astros decided to turn on the jets. Jeremy Peña hit an RBI single, and Alex Bregman brought in two more runs with another single to tie the game. But, Seager struck back again with another home run in the bottom of the inning, although this one didn’t go as far as the other (“only” 422 feet).

The two teams battled it out again for the lead in the sixth. Mauricio Dubón hit a solo homer to tie the game again, and then Jose Altuve went deep as well to take the lead, but in the bottom of the sixth, Mitch Garver went deep as well to tie the game again. However, the seventh is where everything changed. The Astros loaded the bases, and José Abreu got hit by a pitch to bring across the first run of the inning. Houston then scored two runs on an error, and Yainer Diaz hit the second 453-foot home run of the game to bring the Astros' lead up to six runs.

The Astros finished dusting the Rangers off in the ninth, but not before Dubón and Altuve went back-to-back for the second time in the game. They’re now tied for the AL West lead with Seattle, while Texas sits a game behind both.

Baltimore Orioles (86-51) 6, Los Angeles Angels (64-74) 3

The Angels took an early lead off a Mickey Moniak double in the bottom of the second inning, but the Orioles came back thanks to RBI knocks from Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, and Aaron Hicks. In the bottom of the fourth, the Halos came back within one run thanks to a Randal Grichuk solo shot to left field.

The O’s sealed the deal after Gunnar Henderson cracked his 23rd home run of the year off the top of the right field screen to put Baltimore up four runs in the top of the seventh.

In the home half of the eighth, Brandon Drury hit a solo home run, which looked like it could be promising, but after some solid defense and good pitching from a great Orioles bullpen, Baltimore put the game away. They lead the Rays in the AL East by 3.5 games and are well-ahead of everyone else.

Minnesota Twins (72-66) 20, Cleveland Guardians (66-72) 6

If you thought the Astros' drubbing of the Rangers was bad, well, get prepared for this one. The Twins came out swinging against new Guardians starter Lucas Giolito. Things went poorly very quickly. Jorge Polanco hit a solo home run five pitches into the game, and in the top of the second, the bases were loaded for the Twins. Polanco walked and brought home one runner before Royce Lewis blasted a no-doubt grand slam — his third in eight games — over the left field wall to give the Twins an early 6-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Carlos Correa hit a solo home run, Ryan Jeffers hit an RBI double, and Willi Castro hit a sacrifice fly to increase the Twins' lead to 9-0. The Guardians managed to get one run in the bottom of that inning with a José Ramírez RBI triple, but it didn’t matter, as the Twins just kept adding on runs.

Lewis put more runs on the board in the sixth to put the score at 11-1. Correa hit an RBI single off of position player David Fry, and so did Matt Wallner. Then, in the top of the seventh, former Yankee Joey Gallo crushed a two-run home run 458 feet off Fry, and Kyle Farmer hit a three-run home run to make the score 18-1. The Guardians added on some runs, but Wallner hit a two-run homer to reach 20 runs in the top of the ninth, so that wasn’t necessarily the focus.

Twenty runs in your main division rival’s ballpark is quite the way to make a statement. Minnesota now leads Cleveland by six games with only a few more weeks to go.