The Yankees had a goal in mind during the series against the Astros. The Red Sox looked to end the first half on a good note. The Rays and Jays each had a mission to gain ground on each other. Let’s see what happened over the weekend and what is coming up this week after the All-Star break for the MLB American League East. MLB American League East

BOSTON RED SOX

The Red Sox lost two of three to the Phillies. Garrett Richards went five innings and gave up three runs in game one. J.D. Martinez hit his 18th home run of the season and Enrique Hernandez hit his 11th. Christian Vazquez went 2-for-4 with a walk. The offense scored 11 runs to win the game while the Phillies were held to five runs.

The Phillies responded with 11 runs of their own during game two as Martin Perez couldn’t last long. He pitched 3.2 innings and gave up three runs. Josh Taylor and Brandon Workman gave up seven runs combined. Xander Bogaerts hit his 14th home run of the season. Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 and Martinez went 0-for-2 with two walks.

The series finale was a bit closer but not enough for the Sox to win. Nick Pivetta pitched four innings and gave up 5 runs. Marwin Gonzalez left the game with an injury and will most likely land on the IL. The Sox defense had three errors in the game. The offense was a run too shy from tying it. MLB American League East

Because MLB insists on having a game on the Thursday after the All-Star Game, the Red Sox will face the Yankees in the Bronx for four games. I said this before and it turned out both series weren’t for me but this series should be exciting.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

An important series for the Rays to close out the first half. The Rays took the first game with Shane McClanahan taking the hill. He pitched 4 innings and gave up the only run the Jays scored. Taylor Walls and Brett Phillips went 2-for-4.

The Rays continued adding on to their lead on the Jays in game two. Ryan Yarbrough pitched five innings and gave up the two runs the Jays scored. Brandon Lowe went 2-for-3 with a walk. They couldn’t complete the sweep as the Jays won the final game for the series. Rich Hill went five innings and gave up three runs.

After the break, the Rays face the Braves over the weekend in Georgia. MLB American League East

NEW YORK YANKEES

After taking two of three against the Mariners, the Yankees had business to take care of against the Astros. The promo giveaway for the Astros “just so happened” to be the 2019 ALCS trophy replica and 2019 AL Champs ring replica during the first two games of the series. The Yankees just needed to take two of three.

And that they did.

You couldn’t ask for a better performance by Nestor Cortes Jr. He went 4.2 innings and shut down the Astros offense. Lucas Luetge, Chad Green, and Jonathan Loaisiga continued the shut down as the pitching held the Astros scoreless. Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela went 2-for-4 while Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu both went 2-for-5. Jake Odorizzi is a familiar face for the offense when they faced him with the Rays and Twins. They scored two runs off of him and later scored two more runs off of Bryan Abreu.

DOMINANCE

Gerrit Cole had a lot of pressure for game two. He was pitching against Zach Greinke and it was his first visit to Minute Maid Park since 2019. The Astros presented a tribute video to him before the game.

Cole was just pure dominance during his outing. He pitched a complete-game shutout and threw 129 pitches. Aaron Judge scored the only run in the game with a home run and paid a little tribute to Jose Altuve as he rounded the bases. Boone came to the mound in the 9th and questioned Cole if he had enough for one more batter. Cole was determined to finish the game and he did with a strikeout to Yordan Alvarez. If anyone doubted Cole can pitch the way he did again without sticky stuff, well, this game proved them wrong.

Another five+ run lead lost

Jameson Taillon and the offense did what they needed to do to try to sweep the series. Domingo German and Chad Green didn’t. Between the two, they gave up six runs to lose the game in a walk-off via a three-run homer by Jose Altuve on the day fans received his jersey as a promotional giveaway. With the back and forth about the jersey and buzzers because the Astros act like they are innocent, it ended with Altuve completely taking his jersey off. The back and forth with the jerseys was funny, I will admit. I’m just not sure how Altuve’s wife would feel about it and I’m glad the tattoo was “fixed” so it can be shown to everyone.

This is the second loss by the Yankees when leading five+ runs in the game. They are the only two losses in all of MLB with a 5+ run lead. If you are heartbroken over the loss, don’t be. The worst the Yankees had to do to end the first half on a good note was to take two out of three from the Astros. They did that. Sure, the sweep would have been lovely but again, pitching hasn’t been on point with the offense consistently. The Yankees ended their week 4-2. That was the worst they HAD to do.

The next series for the Yankees is the Red Sox as they come into town for four games. The Yankees need to figure out how to win against the Red Sox this week. Look for the possibility of Cortes Jr starting Thursday’s game to give Cole an extra day of rest.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

The Jays didn’t end their first half the way they hoped. Alek Manoah pitched 3.2 innings and gave up 3 runs. Anthony Castro and Jacob Barnes combined in giving up 4 more runs. The Jays only run came on George Springer‘s RBI single. The woes continued for the Jays as they lost game two. Ross Stripling gave up four runs in 3.2 innings. Marcus Semien‘s 2-run home run was the only scoring of the game for the Jays.

The Jays avoided the sweep on Sunday. Robbie Ray had a no-hitter going until the 7th inning. The only run by the Rays was scored on Jordan Romano, who got the save. Danny Jansen hit his 4th home run of the season. Santiago Espinal when 3-for-4.

Next for the Jays will be facing the Rangers at home in Buffalo.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

The O’s faced the White Sox over the weekend. They ended up being swept to no surprise. The first game was a laugher for the White Sox. The only run for the O’s came from Ramon Urias‘ bat off of Dallas Keuchel. Jorge Lopez and the bullpen gave up 12 runs.

Thomas Eshelman pitched 2 innings and gave up four runs in his outing during game two. Keegan Akin added on to the scoreboard and gave up four more runs. Urias went 2-for-4 and Domingo Leyba when 2-for-3 with a walk.

Spenser Watkins pitched 4.1 innings and gave up one run. The bullpen combined gave up six more runs. The offense tried to come back and scored five runs but it wasn’t enough. Austin Hays hit his 9th home run of the year and Home Run Derby participant, Trey Mancini, hit his 16th of the year.

LET’S SPIN IT

So now that the All-Star break is here, where does that have the standings? The Red Sox still are in first place in the AL East but the Rays are only 1.5 games behind. The Yankees and Jays tied with winning percentage regardless of the Yankees being a game behind in the loss column. Both teams are 4.5 games back from a wild card spot. There is still plenty of baseball games left for the standings to change. With the trade deadline quickly approaching after the break, it will be interesting to see what moves are done.

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Featured Image by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald MLB American League East