Let’s not waste time, let’s get right into the AL East. The Yankees have been playing better. The Red Sox have taken first place for now and currently tied for the second-best record in the American League. The Rays haven’t played well of late and dropped to the second spot in the wild card standings. The Blue Jays haven’t been able to play over .500 baseball.
Let’s see what happened over the weekend and what’s to come this week.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
The Rays had a tough series as they got swept against the Mariners. Michael Wacha pitched 3.2 innings and gave up 5 runs in Friday’s game. The last two of the four games went into extra innings. Mike Zunino hit his 14th home run of the season and Brandon Lowe hit his 13th of the season during Saturday’s loss. Josh Fleming pitched 6.1 innings and gave up 5 runs in that game. The Rays tied the game in the 9th but the bullpen gave it away in the bottom of the 10th. On Sunday’s loss, Shed Long Jr. hit a walk-off grand slam to win it for the Mariners. Diego Castillo got the loss while Shane McClanahan pitched six innings and gave up only one run.
The series against the Red Sox will be important for the Rays to get back first place. They then face Shohei Ohtani and the Angels during the weekend. Since Tyler Glasnow landed on the IL, the Rays are 4-6 with the last six games being losses.
Baseball's No. 1 prospect Wander Franco has been called up to the Tampa Bay Rays. pic.twitter.com/2z2BlkgmOv — TSN (@TSN_Sports) June 21, 2021
Top prospect Wander Franco will be joining the team on Tuesday as they face the Red Sox. With how the Rays have been playing of late, calling up Franco could be the piece that they are hoping gets them going in the right direction again. The 60 game mark has past so this is a test for the Rays to show that last year’s strong season wasn’t just because of the short season.
BOSTON RED SOX
The Red Sox lost two out of three against the Royals. J.D. Martinez hit his 100th home run in a Red Sox uniform Saturday evening He was 4-13 during the series. Martin Perez pitched five innings and gave up one run in game two. The team was 4-21 with runners in scoring position and left 22 men on base over the weekend. Xander Bogaerts was 2-12 in the series. Rafael Devers was 1-11 during the series. When Bogaerts, Martinez, and Devers don’t hit, it seems the offense doesn’t really get going. Kike Hernandez hit his 6th home run on Sunday. He went 3 for 5 and walked three times over the weekend. Looks like he may have found a new hitting spot in the lineup.
Make that 100 HR in a Sox uni! pic.twitter.com/Q1moB9b5nq — Red Sox (@RedSox) June 19, 2021
On Sunday, Christian Arroyo suffered a shin bone bruise after a collision with Hernandez. Alex Cora said after the game that Arroyo should be okay. Kevin Plawecki was removed from the game in the fourth inning due to hamstring tightness. The team should be getting Plawecki’s prognosis by Tuesday.
Chris Sale will have a bullpen session on Tuesday and Friday this week. He could start facing hitters sometime next week. Although there is no date set, it continues to look like Sale will be joining the team in late July/early August.
This week, the Red Sox have a chance to take first place from the Rays as they play three games in St. Pete. Then they return to Boston to play the Yankees. It is an important week for the Sox especially if the Yankees and Rays continue to play how they are currently.
NEW YORK YANKEES
After sweeping the Blue Jays, the Yankees took on the A’s over the weekend. They took the series with the series finale ended with a triple play. It is their third triple play of the season and second of the week. It is pretty difficult and rare to get one triple play. The Yankees have gotten three and made it look easy. Aroldis Chapman was on the mound for two of the triple plays so far. He had some trouble during the two wins but managed to pull through. He threw a 103.4 MPH pitch in Saturday’s win against Matt Chapman. It is the fastest pitch in MLB so far this season. The Yankees have seven wins when scoring two or fewer runs. That makes them second in MLB behind the Phillies. They are also 11-7 in one-run games this season.
Just ending the game on our daily triple play 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/Hwt7C8hRqj — New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 20, 2021
In injury news, Darren O’Day continues to recover and could be going on a rehab assignment on Tuesday. Luis Severino was seen at Yankee Stadium throwing from 60 feet. He said he is feeling better from the groin injury he suffered. Luke Voit can possibly join the team this week as he gets closer to returning.
After the off-day, the Yankees face the Royals in the Bronx and then head to Fenway to face the Red Sox. Should be an exciting series. Gerrit Cole should be pitching during the weekend. It will be interesting to see if Kyle Higashioka will catch Cole on Tuesday despite Gary Sanchez having a hot bat right now.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
After being swept by the Yankees, the Jays took two out of three against the Orioles. During game one, Robbie Ray went 4.1 innings and gave up two runs. The bullpen gave up five more runs while the offense was kept to one run. During game two, the Jays came back from behind in the 9th inning to take the lead and win. Alek Manoah went only 3.1 innings and gave up five runs. He was ejected in the 4th inning for hitting Maikel Franco after giving up back-to-back home runs. Jordan Romano got the win in that game.
Saturday’s win was a little easier for the Jays as Hyun Jin Ryu gave up only one run in seven innings pitched. Trent Thornton gave up three runs in the 8th. Marcus Semien hit two home runs and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit his 23rd home run. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit his 7th home run on Friday night.
After the off-day, the Jays head to Miami to play the Marlins for a quick 2-game set. They then play four games against the Orioles at home. The Jays need to play better to go over and stay over .500 baseball. They are currently 6.5 games behind for a wild card spot.
The Orioles lost the series against the Jays. Trey Mancini hit two home runs on Sunday with the second being his 100th career home run. Dean Kremer pitched six innings and gave up two runs on Saturday but it wasn’t enough as the bullpen gave up eight runs. Six of the eight by the bullpen were given up during the top of the 9th inning. The O’s lost both games by three runs.
CAREER HOMERUN #100 FOR TREY MANCINI 🙌🏻 WHAT. A. STORY. pic.twitter.com/0ACaOW924D — Ben Verlander (@Verly32) June 20, 2021
The Orioles face the Astros for three games and then head to Buffalo to face the Jays again for a 4-game set.
LET’S SPIN IT
The Rays are now in second place behind the Red Sox by one in the loss column. The Yankees are creeping up a bit closer while the Jays continue to play around .500 baseball. It is an exciting time right now as the season is over 60 games. The Rays can either continue to fall slowly or start getting stronger again with Franco joining the team this week.
Meanwhile, the Yankees see going up as the only option. With Voit possibly joining the team this week and O’Day starting his rehab assignment, the Yankees can get stronger with both the bat and bullpen. Taking second place in the MLB AL East can assure them a playoff spot if they can’t take first place.