The brooms were out around the American League on Sunday, when four teams finished off series sweeps — and had David Ortiz not rescued Koji Uehara and the Red Sox, the A’s might well have been a fifth.
Because the Sox salvaged a game in Oakland, none of the sweeps involved teams from the AL East, but the Blue Jays’ struggles during an interleague series with Cincinnati allowed the top of the division to tighten up a bit, with both the Orioles and Yankees moving to within a game and a half. It also mitigated the potential consequences of Boston’s difficulties in Oakland, considering the Red Sox are still just 6.5 games out; that’s just a half game worse than they were after their season-best seven-game winning streak ended, despite going 8-12 since then.
Additionally, the Sox are also still just five games back in the wild-card race — and here’s a look at what happened elsewhere Sunday to put them in that position.
IN THE DIVISION
Orioles 8, Yankees 0: Were it not for a four-run Yankee rally in the ninth inning Friday the Orioles might have swept their weekend visit to the Bronx, outscoring New York 14-1 over the final two games and dealing Masahiro Tanaka his second major-league loss in Sunday’s rubber match. Tanaka delivered his 15th straight quality start, and the ultimate margin wasn’t on him; Adam Warren was tagged for four runs in the eighth to let the game get out of hand. But, still, he wasn’t as good as Baltimore starter Chris Tillman, who allowed four hits over seven scoreless frames, and who was aided by a big day from J.J. Hardy (2-for-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs).
Baltimore and New York are both 5 games up on Boston.
Reds 4, Blue Jays 3: Not only did the Jays lose for the eighth time in 11 games, they also may have lost a couple of key pieces of their lineup as Brett Lawrie broke his right index finger when hit by a pitch in the second, and Jose Bautista exited with tightness in his left leg. He experienced that while trying to leg out a bunt hit against Johnny Cueto, the Reds ace who allowed only one earned run over eight innings. Edwin Encarnacion hit his league-leading 24th homer for Toronto, but since getting their lead up to 6 games on June 6, the Jays are 4-11.
Toronto is 6.5 games up on Boston.Rays 5, Astros 2: Tampa Bay took three of four in a weekend series against Houston, and won five of the seven games between the teams over the past 10 days. The problem for the Rays is that they’re 3-16 against everybody else over their past 26 games, and thus still the owners of the AL’s worst record (31-46). Sunday’s win came courtesy of a three-run sixth-inning rally that featured a two-run single by Yunel Escobar, and a run-scoring ground out from Sean Rodriguez.
Tampa Bay is 4.5 games behind Boston.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Tigers 10, Indians 4: Just wanted it started to look as though the Tigers might be in trouble, it looks like everything is in order again. Max Scherzer recovered from a woeful outing to author six strong innings, Miguel Cabrera hit his 13th homer, and Detroit finished off a sweep of Cleveland. Just a few days ago the Tigers had lost 20 of 29, and fallen out of first place, but they’ve now won four in a row and are again the owners of a 2.5-game lead in the Central.
Detroit is 7 games up on Boston; Cleveland, 2 up.
Mariners 2, Royals 1: The Royals have been complicit in the Tigers regaining the Central lead, as Kansas City lost its fourth straight — three by the same score of 2-1 — after a 10-game winning streak vaulted them to the top of the division. Mike Zunino hit his ninth homer for the M’s, most among AL catchers, and while the top five hitters in Seattle’s order went 0-for-17, the bottom four were 7-for-15 with both runs and both RBIs to lift the club into a three-way tie with the Yankees and Orioles for the second AL wild-card spot. Also worth noting is that in notching his 21st save, Fernando Rodney pitched for a fourth straight day — so he may not be available against the Red Sox on Monday.
Seattle is 5 games up on Boston; Kansas City, 4.5 up.
Twins 6, White Sox 5: Chicago struck five times in the third inning against Phil Hughes, but Minnesota pitchers didn’t allow a run the rest of the day so the six runs the Twins scored against John Danks were good enough to cap a four-game sweep. Joe Mauer had two hits and two RBIs for the victors, while New Hampshire’s own Sam Fuld added a couple hits and a steal. Hughes is now 8-3 on the year.
Minnesota is 2 games up on Boston; Chicago is even.
Angels 5, Rangers 2: Only four times in 75 career starts has Yu Darvish allowed multiple homers in the same inning — and three of them have come against the Angels, as CJ Cron and Kole Calhoun each went deep in the fourth inning Sunday as part of a rally that gave Los Angeles all the offense it needed to finish a weekend sweep. Matt Shoemaker got two outs in the eighth to earn the victory, while Darvish has now allowed eight earned runs in 11 innings since pitching his first career shutout earlier this month.
Los Angeles is 7 games up on Boston; Texas, 0.5 up.
NATIONAL LEAGUE NOTABLES
Josh Byrnes, who was Theo Epstein‘s assistant general manager with the Red Sox, was fired in the midst of his third season as the Padres’ GM. San Diego then went out and lost to the Dodgers, 2-1, with Hanley Ramirez compiling a couple of hits for Los Angeles … The Mets banged out 17 hits, including at least two from the top seven spots in the lineup, to beat the Marlins, 11-5 … The Nationals emerged with a split from a four-game series with the Braves, leaving their NL East lead at 1.5 games after a 4-1 win. Former Red Sox first baseman Adam LaRoche had two hits in the victory, raising his average to .305 (and his OBP to .418) … The Cardinals have won 10 of 14 since falling to .500, salvaging a split of a series with the Phillies with a 5-3 triumph … Ex-Sox reliever Mark Melancon got his 12th save in 15 chances, closing the Pirates’ 2-1 win over the Cubs, but not before former Boston farmhand Anthony Rizzo singled and scored to heighten the drama in the ninth … The Brewers, who swept an April series at Fenway to start their road schedule, are a major-league best 27-15 after beating the Rockies, 6-5. Lyle Overbay‘s pinch-hit homer in the ninth was the difference … After losing nine of 11, the Giants made it two straight wins over the Diamondbacks, riding Madison Bumgarner (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER) to a 4-1 victory.
10 YEARS AGO TODAY …
The Red Sox dropped their third decision in four games, falling to the Twins by a final of 4-2. Mark Bellhorn hit his eight homer (and only struck out once!), while Trot Nixon crushed his third, but both were solo shots and Carlos Silva otherwise limited the damage by keeping Boston to 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Torii Hunter had the big hit, highlight a three-RBI night with a two-run shot off Derek Lowe. At 40-30, the Sox were 4.5 games out in the East, but holding a 1-game lead in the wild-card race.