We didn’t do one of these this morning, so now we have quite a few games to catch up on. One thing we can see, however, is that the Orioles are unlikely to pull away and this may just be a four-team race until the very end.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 3, Baltimore Orioles 2 (Wednesday, 10:05 PM start time)
The Orioles bullpen has been solid overall in 2014, ranking second in the division behind the Red Sox with a 3.52 ERA. However, its recent struggles have disconcerting, and this game was the latest example. Chris Tillman gave Baltimore 6 strong innings allowing only 1 run, but Tommy Hunter collapsed in the 8th inning, allowing an RBI double to Erick Aybar and a bases-loaded walk to Kole Calhoun to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. Huston Street worked around a walk in the 9th for his first save as a member of the Angels. The Orioles received RBI hits by Nick Markakis and Adam Jones off Angels ace Jered Weaver, and even though Weaver lasted until the 8th, it appeared that it would not be enough. Instead, the Orioles lost and saw their AL East lead get even more precarious.
New York Yankees 2, Texas Rangers 1 (5 innings–7:05 Wednesday)
This went down as a rain-shortened win for the Yankees, with Brett Gardner‘s 10th homer in the third inning proving to provide a winning margin. For what it’s worth, David Phelps out-dueled Yu Darvish for those five innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks while striking out 3 as he earned the 5-inning complete game. Francisco Cervelli also had an excellent game for New York, going 2 for 2 with 2 doubles and a run scored on a balk. Chase Headley, meanwhile, made his first Yankee start count as he drilled a double in two trips to the plate. There aren’t too many ways to beat Yu Darvish, but the Yankees found one of them and will reap the benefits.
Yankees 4, Rangers 2 (1:05 Thursday)
This certainly counts as a more legitimate win. Brandon McCarthy allowed exactly one earned run for his third straight start since joining the Yankees, going 6.0 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. Adam Warren did allow a run in the 7th on a J.P. Arencibia home run, but that didn’t prove to make a difference as the Yankees offense scored reached four runs for the first time since Saturday. New York received an RBI single by Headley in the 4th, an RBI double by Cervelli and a Gardner sac fly in the 5th, plus an RBI double by Brian McCann in the 8th for a late insurance run. Overall, eight of nine in the Yankee lineup reached base and six different players either drove in a run or scored. The Yankees certainly can’t describe that as a banner day for their offense, but it proved to be enough on Thursday.
Toronto Blue Jays 6, Boston Red Sox 4 (7:07 Wednesday)
After a dominant display in their 14-1 win over the Blue Jays on Monday, the Red Sox were stopped on Tuesday, losing 7-3. The question was going to be how they would respond, and the early answer appeared to be “well.” David Ortiz drilled a three-run homer off R.A. Dickey and Boston looked ready to shrug off that loss without a problem. Instead, Clay Buchholz gave it all back in the bottom of the frame, allowing RBI doubles to Jose Bautista and Josh Thole plus a Colby Rasmus RBI groundout to knot the game up at 3. Both Dickey and Buchholz did pitch better from there, and Boston finally retook the lead in the fifth inning on a Xander Bogaerts RBI double. However, the Blue Jays came back once again in the 6th, scoring on a Ryan Goins RBI triple and a Bogaerts error. Then Jose Bautista provided a punctuation point in the 7th, drilling a solo home run off Andrew Miller to send Boston to the 6-4 deficit that proved to be the final. Aside from the offense, Toronto received a huge big league debut from top prospect Aaron Sanchez, who tossed two perfect innings with two strikeouts, touching 99.5 MPH in the process. Casey Janssen also tossed a perfect 9th for his 15th save, rebounding well after a few tough outings. The Blue Jays looked to win three out of four against Boston today.
Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 0 (12:37 Thursday)
Indeed, the Blue Jays did win the series, and this one was not even close. It was a battle of talented young starters as Marcus Stroman took on Rubby De La Rosa, and De La Rosa appeared to have the edge as he entered the game with a strong 2.64 ERA in 7 starts and a 1.73 ERA in his last 4. But it was Stroman who came out on top, tossing 7 innings of 1-hit ball with 7 strikeouts to start a 1-hitter by Blue Jays pitching. He allowed only a single in his final inning as he delivered the type of dominant performance that the Blue Jays hope to see more of. De La Rosa, meanwhile, had the worst start of his young career, allowing 7 runs, 6 earned, in 4+ innings pitched. Melky Cabrera and Juan Francisco accomplished most of that, going a combined 6 for 8 in the game with 6 RBI and 3 runs scored. De La Rosa allowed his first run on a Christian Vazquez passed ball, but all the other runs came on hard-hit balls and the Boston offense could do nothing to match it. After winning their first four out of the All-Star Break, Boston has now dropped three in a row.
Tampa Bay Rays 3, St. Louis Cardinals 0 (7:15 Wednesday)
Entering the Orioles’ 10:05 PM matchup tonight, the AL East is as tight as ever, with only the Boston Red Sox appearing to fall off. Here are the full standings.
1. Baltimore (55-45) —
2. New York (53-48) 2.5
3. Toronto (54-49) 2.5
4. Tampa Bay (49-53) 7.0
5. Boston (47-55) 9.0