Scoreboard Watching: The Mariners are imploding, Rangers nearing AL West crown, and more
Photo credit:© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
By Evan Stack2 months ago
In the American League, several more teams got that “–e” thrown on the end of their name in the standings this past weekend. In fact, the only teams that remain without that label are the ones we’ve been highlighting in these articles for weeks: Toronto, Seattle, Houston, and Texas.
If you’re a Blue Jays fan like the majority of the people that read our articles, then you had a sensational weekend. It wasn’t just what happened at the Trop; if the out-of-town scoreboard could be painted and hung in the Louvre, it would.
To keep the excitement and intrigue going, the Astros and Mariners started a critical three-game series last night with Houston winning 5-1. Let’s catch up on the latest details.
The Astros can’t handle the Royals
The later months of the MLB season have been Houston’s claim to fame for most of the last decade. I mean, seven playoff appearances and two World Series championships since 2015 speak for themselves. While still possessing a lot of talent this year, the Astros have hit a few roadblocks during this season’s path to the playoffs.
Since September 11, Houston is 4-9 with series losses to the Oakland A’s and the Kansas City Royals twice. The latter of those series against the Royals was this past weekend, a set in which the Astros were swept. In Houston’s defence, Kansas City has won 10 of their last 11 games. The Astros made 17-loss Jordan Lyles look like an ace getting ready for postseason baseball, and they also made Kansas City’s 25th-ranked offence look supreme.
Again, the Royals are on fire right now, and they’re a perfect example of a young team playing spoiler in September. But this is so unlike the Astros. Houston went a combined 4-for-30 with RISP in this series, leaving a lot to be desired especially when the run differential of this series was four.
The Rangers swept the Mariners
Seattle was so good in August but methinks the 45-44 first half of the season is starting to come back to hurt them. The Rangers swept the Mariners this past weekend, capped off by a six-homer effort on Sunday afternoon. The Lone Star State team had more than one star show this weekend; Corey Seager was 4-for-10 with two home runs and three RBIs, and Jordan Montgomery tossed seven spectacular innings on Saturday night. Montgomery has only allowed one earned run over his last 21 innings.
For Seattle, rookie starters Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo were roughed up in their weekend starts, allowing six runs each across 7.2 innings combined. The sweep coupled with their win over the Angels last night has Texas sitting atop the AL West by 2.5 games. Their magic number to win the division is four, while the number to obtain a Wild Card position is three.
Justin Verlander silenced Seattle on Monday night
Justin Verlander pitched eight innings allowing only one run, three hits, eight strikeouts, and only one walk last night, showing the rest of the league that the price to acquire him at the trade deadline was well worth it now that it’s crunch time. Verlander retired the first seven batters he faced and ended his night retiring 17 in a row before allowing a double to Josh Rojas in the 9th inning.
The three hits were all Seattle could muster throughout the entirety of the game. Furthermore, those hits came from Rojas and Dominic Canzone, the #8 and #9 batters of Seattle’s order. To make matters even worse, Luis Castillo picked the wrong time to have a bad game on the mound, surrendering five runs through six innings, including a pair of home runs from Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker.
The rather discouraging effort from the Mariners puts them 1.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot, but it’s Houston they’re trying to catch. There’s no question that the final two games of this series are must-wins for Seattle. George Kirby and Christian Javier will face off tonight in the second game of the set.
Tampa Bay is fighting the injury bug
The Rays dealt with an abundance of injuries last season, and that has unfortunately lingered into this season as well. It’s an incredible testament to their player development system in that all of their reinforcements have kept them relevant in the AL East, but it still forms a huge “what if” when it comes to thinking about how good they would be even at 90% health.
The most recent injured players are 2B Brandon Lowe (10-day IL with a right patella fracture) and RP Jason Adam (15-day IL with a left oblique strain). 1B Yandy Diaz left Sunday’s game against Toronto with hamstring tightness, but the Rays have not placed him on the Injured List and Kevin Cash specified that the move to take him out of the game was precautionary.
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