The Morning After: Jays Slow Skid as Central Race Tightens Up

Just like that, the pendulum has again started swinging back in a positive direction for the Red Sox, who have now won four of six — including three of four — since dropping the first five games of their recent road trip.

Did their latest triumph help make an immediate dent in the deficit they face in their division and in the American League at large? Let’s take a look at how things played out elsewhere on Friday.


Blue Jays 4, Orioles 0: After Toronto had lost five of six, Baltimore had a chance to cut the Jays’ East lead to 2.5 games — but Drew Hutchison would have none of it. Scattering six hits over seven shutout innings, one of this season’s best road starters (1.79 ERA) helped the league’s best road team (20-12) stave off the O’s, with an assist from Juan Francisco and his 11th homer of the year.
Toronto is 8 games up on Boston; Baltimore, 3.5 up.


Yankees 7, Athletics 0: On the day the Yankees announced that the pine tar-aided Michael Pineda may be out until August, David Phelps, the man who originally took his spot in the rotation, tossed the first 6.2 innings of a two-hit shutout that gave New York its fourth straight win out west. The Yankee offense did its job, too, with old-timers Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, and Brian Roberts each collecting a couple hits, and Jacoby Ellsbury going 1-for-4 to push his hit streak to 17 games.
New York is 4.5 up on Boston; Oakland, 9 up.

Rays 6, Astros 1: Alex Cobb used strikeouts for 11 of the 19 outs he recorded, then the Tampa bullpen added five more, as the Rays totaled 16 whiffs in winning consecutive games for the first time since May 24-25. Andover’s Ryan Hannigan was one of four Tampa batters with at least two hits in the victory, while Jon Singleton continued to look like the real deal for the losers, slugging his fourth homer in his 11th career game.
Tampa Bay is 5.5 games back of Boston; Houston is 1 game back.

Twins 2, Tigers 0: The entire AL Central is within 3.5 games of first place after Detroit lost for the fourth time in five games, and extended a skid during which it’s dropped eight of 11. Minnesota — which comes to Boston on Monday — managed only four hits against Drew Smyly and a couple of Tiger relievers, but Kyle Gibson, Casey Fien, and Glen Perkins made that good enough for the team’s third straight win.
Minnesota is 2 games up on Boston; Detroit, 5 up.
Royals 7, White Sox 2: Kansas City is the Tigers’ closest competition in the Central, having shaved the deficit down to 1.5 games with a fifth straight win. Jeremy Guthrie got the credit, his first victory since April 9, but the tone was set early by a Royal offense that scored five times before he threw a pitch. KC is in Chicago the next two afternoons before going to Detroit for a four-game showdown that starts Monday.
Kansas City is 3.5 games up on Boston; Chicago, 1.5 up.
Rangers 1, Mariners 0: Neither team crossed the plate until the top of the ninth, when Elvis Andrus singled, stole second, stole third, and scored on Adrian Beltre‘s infield grounder, as Texas used its legs to overcome the excellence of Felix Hernandez. Nick Tepesch went toe to toe with King Felix into the seventh, then Jason Frasor and Steve Tolleson did their part before Joakim Soria locked it down in the ninth, and so the Mariners find themselves 1.5 games out of the second wild-card spot after losing four in a row.
Texas is 2 games up on Boston; Seattle, 3 up.
Braves 4, Angels 3: Atlanta scored four runs in the first — three coming when Evan Gattis unloaded a three-run blast on a 3-0 pitch — against C.J. Wilson, and the rally stood up, as the Braves moved into a first-place tie. Aaron Harang notched his fifth win, while Craig Kimbrel registered his 19th save.
Los Angeles is 5.5 games up on Boston.
Former Red Sox property Anthony Rizzo walked twice on top of a single in the Cubs’ 2-1 win over the Phillies, and now boasts a .406 OBP this season (fifth in the NL) … Bartolo Colon pitched into the eighth inning and Bobby Abreu went 4-for-4 as the Mets turned back the clock for a 6-2 win over the Padres … Top prospect Gregory Polanco went 5-for-7 and hit his first career homer in the 13th inning to give the Pirates an 8-6 win over the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton hit his NL-leading 18th homer in the loss … Mark Melancon, ex of Boston, walked in the tying run with two outs in the ninth to force Pittsburgh to win the game in extras … Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia remains out for the Marlins after taking a foul tip to the facemask on May 31 and sustaining a concussion. The former Sox backstop is batting .237 with a .739 OPS, and hasn’t homered since May 2 … Homer Bailey, whose nine-figure contract could factor in to the Red Sox’ negotiations for an extension with Jon Lester, saw his ERA rise to 4.68 in the Reds’ 6-5 win over the Brewers … Lance Lynn threw eight shutout innings, better than Jordan Zimmermann‘s eight one-run innings, as the Cardinals edged the Nationals, 1-0 … Hanley Ramirez went 2-for-3 in his first start since Tuesday, and Matt Kemp broke a month-long homerless streak in the Dodgers’ 4-3 dismissal of the Diamondbacks. Ex-Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross went 1-for-5 for Arizona, his average remaining at .190 for the season.
The Sox took a day off after taking two of three from the Dodgers, and gaining a two-game lead in the AL wild-card race. With 100 games left in the regular season, they trailed the Yankees by 3.5 games in the East as they headed for Colorado with a record of 37-25.

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