A night capped by the Red Sox dropping a 4-2 decision at Oakland leaves Boston five games out in the wild-card race, but still within 6.5 of the division lead as they try to find their offense. Here’s a look at what else happened Thursday to put them in such a position.
IN THE DIVISION
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4: Jacoby Ellsbury had two hits, stole two bases, scored twice, and delivered a sacrifice fly in support of David Phelps, whose seven innings of two-run ball put the Yankees in position to sweep the Blue Jays and move within 1.5 games of first place. Another member of the 2013 World Series champs, Matt Thornton, got the last out of the eighth and the first out of the ninth for New York, which dealt Toronto its ninth loss in its last 12 games despite Edwin Encarnacion‘s 21st homer of the year. When their current skid began, the Jays had a six-game advantage in the division.
New York is 6.5 games up on Boston; Toronto, 6.5 up.
Rays 5, Astros 0: The Tampa Bay team most were expecting to see at the start of the season showed up on Thursday night: Chris Archer provided the excellent pitching, striking out two and surrendering only three hits over 6.2 scoreless innings; Evan Longoria homered; the offense was balanced; and the bullpen was solid. It hasn’t been like that too often for the Rays, as evidenced by a 6-17 record since May 24, but it all came together against an Astros club that’s now lost four straight and five of six.
Tampa Bay is 5.5 games behind Boston; Houston, 2.5 behind.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Tigers 2, Royals 1: Anibal Sanchez didn’t record a strikeout, and generated only five missed swings over seven innings — but after Billy Butler‘s RBI double in the first he didn’t allow a run, halting the Royals’ winning streak at 10 games and preventing a four-game sweep for his Tigers. All of Detroit’s offense came in the fourth, courtesy of a Miguel Cabrera double and J.D. Martinez homer, then beleaguered closer Joe Nathan made it count by striking out all three men he faced in the ninth. The win pulled the Tigers back within half a game of first in the Central.
Detroit is 5 games up on Boston; Kansas City, 5.5 up.
Indians 5, Angels 3: Nick Swisher was a strike away from his fourth strikeout of the afternoon, and the Indians were just as far from a loss, but the designated hitter instead turned on Ernesto Frieri‘s next pitch and delivered a game-winning grand slam in the 10th inning. It was the Tribe’s fourth walkoff homer of the year, this one undoing an Albert Pujols single that had briefly given the Angels a lead in the top of the frame, which came against former Sox reliever Scott Atchison. Another Ex-Sox pitcher, Justin Masterson, made his first start since a brutal return to Boston and was better, allowing only a run over seven innings despite walking three.
Cleveland is 3 games up on Boston; Los Angeles, 4.5 up.
Twins 4, White Sox 2: After more than 10 years in the minor leagues, Yohan Pino became the oldest Twins player ever to make his major-league debut (at 30 years, 175 days) and introduced himself with seven innings in which he struck out seven and allowed just two runs. That sent the game tied into the eighth, when the top of Minnesota’s order won the game by scoring twice, first on a Joe Mauer double then on a Josh Willingham sacrifice fly. The victory snapped the Twins’ five-game skid.
Minnesota is even with Boston; Chicago, 1 up.
Padres 4, Mariners 1: San Diego’s offense awoke with a four-run seventh, spoiling six scoreless innings from Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez. Wheaton College product Chris Denorfia broke the tie with a pinch-hit, RBI single as part of the rally, then Joaquin Benoit (1.42 ERA) and Huston Street (20-for-20 in saves) expectedly took care of business from there. Robinson Cano was a bright spot for the M’s, his 3-for-4 night moving him into the lead in the AL batting race at .333.
Seattle is 3 games up on Boston.
NATIONAL LEAGUE NOTABLES
The Pirates scored in the 12th to beat the Reds, 4-3, the winning run generated by a rally that went: fly out, single, balk, intentional walk, strikeout, hit by pitch, walk. (Tony Cingrani walked Russell Martin to end it) … Cody Ross went 2-for-4 with a double, though the Diamondbacks couldn’t overcome the Brewers, losing 4-1 … Gavin Floyd broke a bone in his elbow while throwing a curveball in the seventh inning, though three Atlanta relievers finished his shutout as the Braves beat the Nationals, 3-0, and closed within half a game in the East … Jarrod Saltalamacchia came off the disabled list (concussion) and had one of the Marlins’ three hits, but Mets starter Zack Wheeler was too good, needing only David Wright‘s sixth homer for a 1-0 win … The Phillies have won four straight and eight of 10 after a 4-1 defeat of the Cardinals that ended with Jonathan Papelbon‘s 17th save.
10 YEARS AGO TODAY …
The Red Sox were shut out for the first time in the 2004 season, managing only one hit — from Kevin Youkilis, leading off the sixth — and two walks while striking out nine times. For Boston, Bronson Arroyo allowed only two runs, though he fired 124 pitches in 6.1 innings because he walked five and hit a batter on top of four hits. The rubber-game loss sent the Sox back to Boston as losers of four of six on a trip out West.