First place in the MLB AL East was pretty much up for grabs between the Rays and Red Sox. The Yankees were able to gain ground on whoever lost. They are 9-5 in the last 14 games since getting swept by the Red Sox earlier this month. The Blue Jays finally get George Springer back and hope to start gaining ground in the standings. With the first half ending soon, let’s see what each team did this week.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
Wander Franco made his MLB debut against the Red Sox on Tuesday night. He walked in his first at-bat against Eduardo Rodriguez. He then later got two hits, his first being a three-run home run to tie the game for the Rays. The bullpen held the game tied until the 11th inning giving up four runs.
Wander's dad is everything 🥺 pic.twitter.com/HWJ97uQ3IN — Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 23, 2021
Game two was better for the Rays. Once they got the lead, they didn’t look back. Rich Hill pitched five innings and gave up only one run. Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, and Mike Zunino each hit a home run during the game. Diego Castillo’s hat was taken away because it did not pass inspection prior to the inning he was pitching in. He was still allowed to stay in the game and pitch.
I don’t think you could have asked for a better series finale game between two teams fighting for first place. It was a pitcher’s duel and an exciting one. The game was scoreless until the 9th inning. Michael Wacha pitched 5 innings with seven strikeouts and giving up just one hit. The Rays offense was hitless until Kevin Kiermaier faced Darwinzon Hernandez in the 8th inning. In the 9th with two outs, the Rays had gotten their second hit and an intentional walk. Manuel Margot advanced to third base on a bad throw by Christian Vazquez while stealing second base. He then scored on a wild pitch by Matt Barnes. The Rays are back in first place by a half of a game. They will face Shohei Ohtani and the Angels to try to gain ground.
BOSTON RED SOX
The first-place Red Sox entered the series looking to gain ground on the Rays. They left the series switching places with the Rays. After their lead was blown in game one, the Sox bullpen kept the game tied for the offense to score four runs in the 11th inning to get the win. J.D. Martinez is hitting almost .700 against Rays starter, Ryan Yarbrough. Xander Bogaerts was 3 for 5 while Hunter Renfroe went 2 for 5 against his former team. Renfroe received his American League Championship ring for being part of the 2020 Rays team prior to the game.
Brand new ballgame courtesy of J.D. pic.twitter.com/GDQb1zfJgO — Red Sox (@RedSox) June 23, 2021
During game two, the Sox left 10 men on base and went 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Garrett Richards only pitched 1.2 innings and gave up five runs. Brandon Workman, Yacksel Rios, and Josh Taylor kept the Rays at five in hopes the offense could come back from behind. Matt Andriese then pitched two innings and gave up three runs.
As mentioned in the Rays section, game three was an exciting one. Nick Pivetta pitched a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Because of his pitch count, he was removed after getting two outs. He also got eight strikeouts during the outing. Pivetta was very sharp. Taylor, Hernandez, and Adam Ottavino kept the game scoreless during their outings. Barnes pitched the 9th inning and got into some trouble with two outs. The winning run was scored on a wild pitch. What a horrible way to lose the game. The Red Sox now go back home back in second place to face the Yankees this weekend.
The Sox placed Kevin Plawecki on the IL with a left hamstring strain and called up Connor Wong. Wong made his MLB debut as a pinch-runner for Martinez in the 11th inning as the “ghost runner” on second base. Wong is scheduled to catch Sunday’s game against the Yankees. Alex Cora said that Chris Sale will be facing hitters on Saturday as he inches closer to joining the team. Christian Arroyo was placed on the IL with a right knee contusion from the collision with Kike Hernandez. Michael Chavis was called up and played first base in the series finale against the Rays.
NEW YORK YANKEES
Luke Voit was reinstated and Chris Gittens was optioned to Triple-A. Voit didn’t miss a beat as he hit two home runs during Tuesday’s game. Gerrit Cole went seven innings, gave up three hits and two runs. Cole has been giving up home runs in almost every start and it could seem like a problem at times. The offense managed to take the lead back in the 7th inning but Jonathan Loaisiga gave up four runs in the 8th. They got to within one run but they weren’t able to get the final hit.
IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL IT’S OVER
Game two was a bit of a struggle for the offense. They walked 11 times but left 10 men on base. Aroldis Chapman had his third blown save of the season. After intentionally walking Carlos Santana to load the bases, Chapman ended up walking Sebastian Rivero to bring in the tying run. A swinging bunt single then gave the Royals the lead. After Gary Sanchez’s home run tied the game,