After the way the Tampa Bay Rays have been playing in recent weeks, everyone is starting to realize that they can’t be counted out yet in the AL East. If the Rays are going to win the division, though, they are going to need some help. Will teams like the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays play well enough to make the Rays’ chances even slimmer? That is what we will find out every day here at Rays Colored Glasses with our new segment, “How the Rivals Did.” We’ll do a quick recap of each game followed by the updated AL East standings, and, at least for Rays fans, the dream will be to keep seeing that Rays’ deficit get smaller and smaller until the Rays are right in the thick of the race.
Oakland Athletics 5, Baltimore Orioles 4
The Orioles have been the class of the AL East so far, but the next few weeks is when we’ll find out just how good they really are. On Friday, they began a three-game series with the A’s, and they will also play the Seattle Mariners seven times, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim six times, the Toronto Blue Jays three times, and the Washington Nationals once in their first 20 games of the second half. In their first contest of the stretch, they were unable to get started in the right fashion.
The Orioles led 4-2 after 8 innings after Chris Tillman tossed 6.2 innings of two-run ball while Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado each hit a two-run home run off Jeff Samardzija. In the bottom of the 9th, however, Zach Britton allowed singles to Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss before Josh Donaldson set A’s fans home with a dramatic 5-4 victory on a walk-off home run. For Donaldson, it was his 21st home run of the season, and it was a crushing blow for the Orioles. The O’s had a chance to take a game from the team with the best record in baseball, and now they will hope to regroup and find a way to get back into the series today.
Texas Rangers 5, Toronto Blue Jays 1
The Blue Jays finished the first half in disastrous fashion, winning just 11 of their final 34 games, and the beginning of the second half was no different, even against the last-place Texas Rangers. Yu Darvish had a huge start for Texas, striking out 12 in 6.2 innings of one-run ball, and catcher-turned-first-baseman J.P. Arencibia hit a 3-run home run off R.A. Dickey in the 7th inning to help Texas pull away. A Colby Rasmus homer in the 7th inning accounted for the only Toronto run. Dickey went 7 innings allowing those 5 runs in the loss.
New York Yankees 4, Cincinnati Reds 3
Interleague play was coming to Yankee Stadium as the Yankees hoped to avoid going below .500 and gain traction in the division race. That was exactly what happened in this game as the Yankees beat the Red 4-3. David Phelps gave the Yankees a strong start as he allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, in 6.1 innings pitched, and the dynamic duo of Dellin Betances and David Robertson did the rest to preserve New York’s one-run lead. Betances went 1.2 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts before Robertson worked around a hit in the 9th for his 24th save. The Yankees got their lead thanks to a two-run homer by Jacoby Ellsbury and RBI hits from Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and their pitchers ensured that their lead never slipped away.
Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas Royals 4
Like the Rays, the Red Sox have a long way to go to work their way back into relevance, but several more wins like this could make things interesting. Though Clay Buchholz struggled once again, allowing 4 runs on 10 hits in 6 innings pitched, his offense and bullpen picked him up to help him to his 5th victory of the season. In the bottom of the 6th, the Red Sox exploded for 4 runs to erase a 4-run deficit, getting 2-run home runs from Xander Bogaerts and Jonny Gomes. Then their bullpen provided capable of preserving their newfound lead, with Burke Badenhop and Andrew Miller combining for the 7th, Junichi Tazawa tossing the 8th, and Koji Uehara impressing once again in the 9th. Stephen Drew also had an encouraging game for Boston, going 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
Tampa Bay Rays 6, Minnesota Twins 2
We are doing this AL East recap, but we are still a Rays site. Here’s what we had to say about the Rays’ win over Minnesota.
On Friday, Josh Donaldson became a friend of every team not named Baltimore in the AL East as the last as the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox all managed to gain ground. Here are the updated standings.
1. Baltimore (52-43) —
2. New York (48-47) 4.0 GB
3. Toronto (49-48) 4.0 GB
4. Tampa Bay (45-53) 8.5 GB
5. Boston (44-52) 8.5 GB