And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 8, Orioles 2: Adrian Beltre hit two homers on a 4 for 4, 5 RBI night. He has an 11 game hitting streak and is 21 for his last 43. Wrecking crew. — He’s not a member of the All-Star team despite a line of .319/.362/.551. Thank you, Jim Leyland, though, for giving us five middle relievers to choose from in that Final Vote thing. THIS TIME IT COUNTS.

Royals 3, Yankees 1: Third loss in a row for the Yankees. This time they were tied up by James Shields for seven innings. CC Sabathia went the distance but gave up homers to Butler and Lough.

Phillies 4, Nationals 2: Cole Hamels allowed one run and six hits in eight innings, winning his second straight. The Phillies are now 6-2 in July, having taken series from the Pirates and Braves and now having beaten the Nationals twice in a row.

Rays 4, Twins 1: That’s six straight for the Rays. Granted, they’ve come against the Twins, White Sox and Astros, but wins against bad teams count just as much in the standings as wins against good ones.

Athletics 2, Pirates 1: Dan Straily allowed one run in six and a third and was then optioned to Sacramento because that’s how life works when you’re a fifth starter around the All-Star break. Oakland maintains its half-game lead over the Rangers.

Braves 6, Marlins 4: Justin Upton had been doing a pretty good B.J. Upton imitation for the past couple of months, but last night he doubled twice, homered and drove in two.

Cubs 7, Angels 2: Two homers for Alfonso Soriano. Five in all for the Cubbies. Four straight wins for the Cubs.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 0: Ubaldo Jimenez and three relievers combine for the shutout. Took only two hours and sixteen minutes to get this one in the can.

Brewers 2, Reds 0: Wily Peralta with a three-hit shutout overshadowed Tony Cingrani’s ten-strikeout performance. Peralta’s complete game was the Brewers first in 407 starts, which is pretty amazing.

While Sox 11, Tigers 4: A 6 for 6 night for Alex Rios. Adam Dunn after the game: “That takes people like me two, maybe three weeks to get six.” Dunn did, however, hit a two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the eighth to put the Sox ahead for good as Chicago scored ten runs in the final two frames. Twenty-three hits in all for the Chisox.

Cardinals 9, Astros 5: Seven scoreless innings gives Adam Wainwright his 12th win, tying him for the NL lead. He’s now 13-1 in 15 career starts against Houston with a 1.56 ERA.

Red Sox 11, Mariners 8: Jackie Bradley Jr. flew into Seattle after being called up and hit the tie-breaking homer. Five homers in all for the Sox. David Ortiz stole a base. Weird things happen after I go to sleep.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 1: Ricky Nolasco made his Dodgers debut and allowed only one run in seven. The Dodgers have played eight straight against NL West opponents and have won six of them. They’re still not back to .500, but they’re only 2.5 out of the division lead.

Padres 2, Rockies 1: The Padres finally win a friggin’ ballgame. A complete game for Eric Stults. Bud Black visited the mound to take him out in the ninth but left him in, saying afterward that he remembered what it was like to be in that position when he pitched. Which reminded me that Bud Black was once a starting pitcher. I had somehow forgotten that, having his identity morph in my head into a manager only at some point. That has happened with Mike Scioscia at times too. Not Kirk Gibson yet. Some ex-players always feel like ex-players to me. Some make that jump. I dunno.

Mets 10, Giants 6: A Marlon Byrd grand slam gave the Mets breathing room as they put up five runs in the eighth. The Giants, by the way, have a worse record than the Cubs.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”