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.
The Rangers found themselves in a 5-1 hole after three innings against the Athletics on Monday, but scratched out some runs in the middle innings. That allowed them to enter the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by only one run, 6-5, facing A’s closer Ryan Madson.
Adrian Beltre, who hit a solo home run in the seventh inning, stepped to the plate with a runner on first base and two outs. He was the Rangers’ last hope to keep the game alive. The veteran third baseman swung at Madson’s first pitch, a 96 MPH fastball, and drilled it to left-center field for a walk-off two-run home run.
Beltre now has nine walk-off home runs in his career. While the 37-year-old isn’t quite the offensive dynamo he was even two years ago, his numbers are still respectable. He’ll head into Tuesday’s action batting .281/.334/.468 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 392 plate appearances.
Outfielder Jay Bruce was the catalyst in the Reds’ 7-5 victory over the Giants on Monday night, drilling a pair of two-run home runs. It’s good timing for the Reds, as the trade deadline is six days away. The Reds might prefer to get a prospect or two for Bruce rather than pick up his $13 million club option for 2017 or buy him out for $1 million and let him walk into free agency.
It was only a year ago that it seemed like the Reds would have to settle for next-to-nothing to get rid of Bruce. He posted career-lows across the board in 2014, including a .654 OPS and 18 home runs. He improved last season, returning to 26 home runs, but came with an uninspiring .729 OPS.
This year is another story. Bruce is currently hitting .272/.326/.564 with 23 home runs and a league-best 77 RBI. He’s on pace to set career-bests in a lot of categories if he’s able to stay healthy.
Bruce was honest about his resurgence, though, admitting that he doesn’t know why he’s so much better this year as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
This is such a fleeting game. It’s so unforgiving. You’re never settled. You’ve never got it. You’ve never figured it out. It’s like a puzzle that never has all the pieces to it. You might get close and feel pretty good about your progress, but you never are going to have the puzzle put together.
Bruce, who welcomed a child into the world back in April, also discussed the difficulties of hearing his name bandied about in trade rumors once again.
It’s harder this year. I have a family I have to focus on now. Logistically, it’s much more intricate. I know the skit. I know how it goes. But it will be nice when it’s passed because we’ll have a plan of attack on whether my family is staying where they are in Cincinnati or elsewhere.
This is a point of view that is not often covered. This time of the year can be very difficult for players who may be traded, as they await a phone call that could send their lives into upheaval. It may mean being away from their families for three months. It means living out of a hotel room or finding a place to live on very short notice. Even Bruce’s comments about his success this year are illuminating about the mental strain of the game.
As usual, great reporting by Buchanan. His full article is worth your time.