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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Guardians stage comeback to take first in AL Central

Cleveland staged a thrilling comeback, while Yordan Alvarez dominated down in Houston.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees pulled off another big comeback win last night, ensuring that their foes would be unable to pick up any ground. That said, their division rivals, outside of the Rays, did their best to at least keep pace. Here’s how the action went down across the American League yesterday.

Chicago White Sox (33-34) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (39-30)

Lucas Giolito, once Chicago’s ace, has had a rough go of it. He entered yesterday’s start against Toronto with an 83 ERA+, despite coming off a three-year stretch that had cemented him as one of the AL’s finest. Things only got worse, as Toronto demolished him to the tune of 10 hits and seven earned runs across 3.2 innings.

Alejandro Kirk kickstarted Toronto’s offense, as he so often does, singling in a run in the first and smashing a solo shot in the second. Bo Bichette blew things open with a grand slam in the third:

Ross Stripling started for the Jays and fared far better than his opponent, scattering five hits across six innings of one-run ball. His ERA sits at a solid 3.08 on the year.

The White Sox didn’t lay down, clawing their way back into it despite falling behind 9-2 entering the eighth. Chicago put three across and had the bases loaded with just one out, but the rally fizzled there. Tim Mayza managed to navigate a scoreless ninth to bring the victory home for Toronto.

Houston Astros (43-25) vs. New York Mets (45-26)

Those of us that hang around these parts are certainly partial to the idea that Aaron Judge is the best hitter in the game. But Yordan Alvarez has staked his claim. The fearsome lefty-swinger matched Judge’s feats from last night, stroking dingers in each of his first two plate appearances to help lead the Astros to a victory, 5-3.

Alvarez’s first homer followed an Alex Bregman two-run job, and put the Astros up 4-0 in the first. Later, his second gave Houston a 5-1 lead in the third:

The Mets stayed in the game, putting two across in the sixth thanks to a Starling Marte RBI double and a sac fly from Pete Alonso, making it a two-run game. But they stranded two runners there, and couldn’t muster another potent threat, with Ryan Pressly ultimately picking up his 14th save.

Boston Red Sox (39-31) vs. Detroit Tigers (26-43)

Michael Wacha has thus far put together one of the more surprising seasons by a starting pitcher across the league. Wacha ran a combined 75 ERA+ across the last two years, but entered Wednesday with a 185 mark in that category for 2022. He kept the magic going against Detroit, running his record to 6-1 with a six-inning, two-run start to power Boston.

Wacha did run into trouble off the bat, yielding a two-run dinger to Javier Baez in the first. But Detroit went quiet from there, with Wacha and the Boston bullpen shutting out the Tigers over the final eight innings.

Jarren Duran tied the game at two with a double in the third, and old friend Rob Refsnyder, somehow still in the league, put the Red Sox in front with a two-run shot the same inning:

Alex Verdugo tacked on two more with a single in the fifth, bringing the score to its eventual final at 6-2. The Red Sox remain a distant third in the AL East, but they’re playing very good baseball at the moment.

Cleveland Guardians (36-28) vs. Minnesota Twins (38-32)

This one was a slugfest, with the teams combining for seven homers and over 20 runs. The Twins hit Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie hard, tagging him for six runs in 4.1 innings, including three homers, two by Carlos Correa. But the Guardians were game, racking up eight hits against Sonny Gray, and putting across four runs.

The Guardians trailed 6-4 entering the seventh, but a solo homer by Amed Rosario, and a two-run dinger from Oscar Gonzalez pushed Cleveland in front. That lead was short lived, as the Twins tied it in the bottom of the frame, and had two on and two out for Gio Urshela. Gio came through:

The Twins turned to Emilio Pagán to convert a six-out save with a 10-7 lead. Pagán managed the eighth, but the Guardians crushed him in the ninth, chasing him with a run home and two on with none out. Griffin Jax came on and allowed a game-tying single to Gonzalez, and Owen Miller chased home the go-ahead run with a sac fly.

Stud closer Emmanuel Clase ensured the theatrics would end there, mowing down the Twins in the ninth to close out the 11-10 victory. With that, Cleveland has surged into the lead in the AL Central.