Yankees southpaw Nestor Cortes faced perhaps his biggest test of the 2022 season to date last night when he squared off with the Rays at Tropicana Field. Those hitters always seem to find a way to turn the Yankees’ screws — particularly at the Trop — but Cortes tamed them over eight brilliant innings, not allowing a run until the ninth. The Yankees won, 7-2.
With one rival result already down and the Astros off, here’s what happened to the rest of New York’s main opponents.
Boston Red Sox (21-23) vs. Chicago White Sox (22-22)
Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won four series in a row after taking two out of three in Chicago in pretty emphatic fashion. They lost a tight one on Wednesday but exploded against the declining Dallas Keuchel last night, plating six runs on seven hits and two walks in just two innings. Kiké Hernández and the surging Trevor Story (who now suddenly has nine dingers) both homered off Keuchel as part of the effort.
The White Sox came back from down 6-0 to knock Michael Wacha out in the fifth on an Andrew Vaughn blast that made it 7-5. It was all a tease though, as Boston woke up in the late innings to obliterate poor Tanner Banks. By the time the dust had settled, utilityman Josh Harrison was Chicago’s last pitcher and the final score was 16-7. The Red Sox outscored their Pale Hose counterparts in the series, 33-13.
Kansas City Royals (15-28) vs. Minnesota Twins (27-18)
Despite an opportunity to face the last-place Royals, the Twins couldn’t capitalize on Chicago’s loss to build their AL Central lead. Starter Devin Smeltzer certainly gave them everything he had, as the Voorhees, NJ native threw seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits to the Royals lineup. The Twins scratched out a couple runs against Daniel Lynch and entrusted a 2-0 lead to reliever Tyler Duffey.
The right-hander retired two of the first three batters, sandwiching outs around an Emmanuel Rivera single. Unfortunately for the Twins, that’s precisely when Duffey fell apart. Pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn singled and Whit Merrifield tied it up on a two-run double. Rookie Bobby Witt Jr. followed with a double of his own to put K.C. in front, 3-2.
The Twins had their chances to take the lead right back. They loaded the bases with no one out in the eighth, forcing Royals skipper Mike Matheny to make an early call to closer/future trade candidate Scott Barlow. He impressively escaped without a single run scoring, striking out José Miranda and Nick Gordon and inducing a grounder from Max Kepler. Minnesota had one more shot in the ninth with runners on the corners and two outs, but on Barlow’s 41st (!) pitch, he got Gio Urshela to hit into a force out, saving the win.
Toronto Blue Jays (24-20) vs. Los Angeles Angels (27-19)
Out west for a four-game set in Anaheim, the Toronto lineup was tasked with figuring out Shohei Ohtani in the opener. Despite the 2021 AL MVP’s 10 strikeouts, the Jays still did their job, as George Springer belted a leadoff homer (the 48th of his career, tying Ian Kinsler for fourth-most all-time), and they expanded the lead to 4-0 in a three-run rally in the third that was capped by a Bo Bichette double.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Danny Jansen chipped in solo homers to pad the lead and Hyun Jin Ryu tossed five innings of two-run ball. Jordan Romano allowed another Angels run in the ninth but fanned former Yankees shortstop Andrew Velazquez to secure the 6-3 victory.