The Yankees and Orioles kept rolling tonight, maintaining one game of separation in the AL East.
The Yankees beat the A’s 2-1 in 10 innings on a Russell Martin home run. Rafael Soriano blew a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth by serving up a home run on a slider to Brandon Moss, but the Yankees were able to come right back on Martin’s 18th homer of the year.
Soriano’s fourth blown save cost CC Sabathia a win after his best outing in months. The left-hander showed increased velocity while limiting the A’s to three hits and striking out 11 in eight innings tonight. Perhaps he’s truly put his elbow problems in the past now.
Also unlucky was Jarrod Parker, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a sterling effort. He struck out seven and walked none in his first start at Yankee Stadium. He’d have a great Rookie of the Year case in pretty much any season except the Year of Trout. Parker is 11-8 with a 3.40 ERA and just nine homers allowed through 27 starts.
The Orioles topped the Red Sox 4-2, with Matt Wieters driving in three runs against Jon Lester. Miguel Gonzalez, a former Rule 5 pick by Boston who never pitched for the team, beat the Red Sox for the second time this season.
There was a scary moment in the ninth, as Mark Melancon drilled Robert Andino in the helmet with a mid-90s fastball. Fortunately, Andino appeared more angry than hurt, yet he did come out of the game. Both teams were warned afterwards, though it was the first HBP of the game. As you may remember, Andino had the hit that ended Boston’s season in 2012. It’s hard to imagine Melancon was looking for revenge, though; he was still an Astro when that happened.
The Orioles, with way too much on the line in a close game, didn’t respond in the bottom half of the ninth.
The wins put the Yankees at 87-63 and the Orioles at 86-64. The A’s are 85-65 and still in very good position to claim a wild card spot barring a meltdown. At worst, they’ll end the night 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was one of the most prominent examples of service time manipulation in recent memory. He was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season by Baseball America. He then had an incredible spring, batting .425 with a spring-high nine home runs and 15 RBI. The Cubs, however, didn’t add him to the Opening Day roster, instead keeping him in Triple-A for the first two weeks of the season, ensuring the club would get another year of control over Bryant because he wouldn’t accrue enough service time. He made his debut on April 17 and the rest was history. Bryant won the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Award.
While the MLB Players Association filed a grievance on his behalf, Bryant didn’t say anything. But it was a learning moment for him. The same is true of the past offseason, which Bryant says “opened my eyes,” as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He now considers labor issues a priority, saying, “I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come. And I’d be foolish not to kind of offer myself out there.”
As Wittenmyer notes, Bryant hopes to replace Jake Arrieta as the Cubs’ player reprensentative. The players make that decision later this month. Bryant also vowed to fight for the next collective bargaining agreement. He said, “Maybe the focus was on other things rather than some of the more important things. But I think with this next one things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to. The only way to get what you want here is to fight for it. And I think you’re going to see a lot of that.”
It’s good to see Bryant motivated by recent economic developments in baseball. Hopefully more players take his lead and become more informed, arming themselves with all of the tools they need to create a better situation for themselves when the current CBA expires.