The Rays took two-of-three in a pivotal series with playoff implications for both teams against the … Baltimore Orioles. Yep, it’s mid-August, and the O’s are firmly entrenched in the postseason race discussion.
Rasmussen Loses Perfecto, Rice Take Series Against O’s
Drew Rasmussen was just three outs from becoming the 24th player in major league history to throw a perfect game and the first to do so in a decade, but Jorge Mateo’s double down the left field line to open the ninth inning at Tropicana Field ended that bid. .
Rasmussen ended up throwing eight and a third innings of one-run, one-hit ball with seven strikeouts as the Rays topped the Orioles 4-1 on Sunday, locking up a series victory against Baltimore, allowing Tampa Bay to keep their narrow lead over the Rays in the American League Wild Card standings.
It’s wild to think that the Rays and Orioles entered their weekend series with playoff implications on the line for both teams in mid-August. Still, a 10-3 Baltimore victory on Friday night in the series opener actually moved the Orioles a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay for the third and final AL Wild Card spot.
The Rays leaned on their big horses in the rotation the next two days as Shane McClanahan, and Drew Rasmussen held the Orioles to three combined runs on Saturday and Sunday as Tampa Bay climbed back on top in the AL Wild Card standings. Tampa Bay now leads Baltimore by a game and a half for that final Wild Card spot.
McClanahan allowed two runs on seven hits in six innings of work on Saturday, and the Rice offense backed him up with eight runs, and Rasmussen was nearly perfect on Sunday in the rubber match while the offense scored four runs.
Red Sox Take Weekend Tilt With Slumping Yankees
The Boston Red Sox took two-of-three over the Yankees this weekend to earn their first series victory over an American League East team this season on the strength of seven scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and a walk and striking out nine by Michael Wacha. Wacha registered a season-high 17 swings-and-misses on 89 pitches, delivered 59 strikes, and struck out Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo twice.
The Yankees are now 3-9 in August and 8-15 since the All-Star break last month. The Yankees are still 10 games ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, down from the 13-game lead they held over the Tampa Bay Rays at the All-Star Break.
Toronto was 49-43 on July 17 and has gone 11-9 since then. Still, the Yankees have plenty of time to wake up from their August slumber and get ready for the postseason, and they’ve already done the heavy lifting this season to lock up an AL East crown.
A quick update on Aaron Judge’s home run chase:
The Yankees slugger was held hitless by the Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday after hitting No. 46 on Friday night in the series opener at Fenway Park. Judge is still on pace for 65 home runs, ahead of Maris’ 1961 pace and just three home runs behind Barry Bonds’ 2001 pace through 115 team games.
Odds and Ends
- The Detroit Tigers are in the market for a new head of baseball operations after they fired long-time GM Al Avila last week. Tigers beat writer Cody Stavenhagen took an early look at potential candidates for the position, a list that includes Theo Epstein protege and former Cubs scouting and player development czar Jason McLeod.
- Lance McCullers made his first start since the 2021 ALDS last October on Saturday against the Athletics. McCullers tossed six scoreless frames against the Athletics. McCullers isn’t listed as a probable for the Astros’ four-game series against the White Sox this week, so he’ll likely make his next start on extra rest when the Astros visit the Braves in Atlanta over the weekend.
- Just when you were starting to think that the Mets might be running away with the NL East, the Braves rattle off six straight wins to remind us that they’re the defending champions and they’re not going down without a fight.
- The Mets still lead the Braves by five and a half games. But, the two teams still play each other seven more times down the stretch, so they are still in a position to decide their fate in the NL East race. The Braves could get some help soon as Mike Soroka embarks on a rehab assignment.
- The Dodgers’ 12-game winning streak ended on Sunday in Kansas City thanks to a dazzling performance by Brady Singer. Singer tossed six innings of shutout baseball, allowing just one hit while striking out seven for the Royals. The Dodger’s 12-game win streak was one shy of their franchise-best.
- Here’s a look at the season Brady Singer has been putting together for the Royals:
- The Yankees are down to fourth in MLB.com’s latest power rankings, and the Mariners and Phillies have cracked the top 10.