Led by a pair of Aaron Judge home runs and another solid outing from Nestor Cortes, the Yankees defeated the Orioles for their third series win in a row, a strong 6-3 start to the year. That’s not too shabby, but thanks to the efforts of one of their rivals they’re looking up in the early standings. Let’s take a look at what they, and the rest of the field, did on Sunday:
Oakland Athletics (2-7) 0, Tampa Bay Rays (9-0) 11
Let’s get the blowout over with first, shall we? The Rays dismantled the A’s once again for their ninth straight win to open the year, pouring it on in front of their home crowd. Former Yankee prospect James Kaprielian got rocked for the second straight start this year, this time surrendering seven runs in 4.2 innings, and all of the damage was done via the long ball. Wander Franco tagged him for a solo home run in the first inning, and Brandon Lowe delivered the big blow with a grand slam in the fourth. In the fifth, a two-out rally set up Harold Ramirez to take Kaprielian deep for a two-run shot, and after a few more baserunners reached his day was done.
Meanwhile, Drew Rasmussen was damn near untouchable, allowing just a single hit over seven innings while striking out eight and walking none. Ryan Thompson and Jason Adams both pitched clean innings to close out the game, completing a one-hitter for the streaking team — granted, their opponents so far have been the Tigers, Nationals, and A’s who are a combined 7-21, but you play who is in front of you.
Toronto Blue Jays (6-4) 12, Los Angeles Angels (5-4) 11 (10 innings)
Now, we’re diving into some chaos. The Angels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, powered by a two-run Hunter Renfroe homer, and then doubled that lead by the fourth after homers from Shohei Ohtani and Logan O’Hoppe. That lead was far from safe, however, as the Blue Jays went to work starting in the sixth inning.
Reid Detmers had been cruising up until this point, but trouble began when George Springer walked to leadoff and a single and hit-by-pitch suddenly loaded the bases. Matt Chapman stepped up and took the first pitch he saw to right-center for a grand slam, and just like that the Jays were back in it. Detmers allowed another single before getting lifted for Andrew Wantz, who promptly allowed his first batter to reach when he fumbled a ball hit in front of him. Wantz got two more outs, but Kevin Kiermaier laced a triple down the line that scored both runners and incredibly, the game was tied.
Toronto was far from done, and in the seventh they set the table for Matt Chapman again. This time he only hit a single, but it still scored a run, and singles from Whit Merrifield and Kiermaier brought home another three runs to give the road team a 10-6 lead. Brandon Drury cut the deficit to three in the eighth with a solo shot, but a tall task still faced them in the ninth. Gio Urshela singled to lead off and a pair of walks loaded the bases, after which Anthony Rendon was hit by a pitch to force a run in and Renfroe doubled home a pair. Drury struck out with a chance to walk it off, but the Angels had done enough to force extras.
In the 10th, Kiermaier played the hero once again. He dropped a ground-rule double to right that scored the free runner, and then Springer singled him home to give Toronto a two-run advantage. The Angels made it interesting, working the bases loaded and walking in a run, but Ohtani didn’t have any more magic to keep it going and instead grounded out to second to end it.
Seattle Mariners (4-6) 6, Cleveland Guardians (6-4) 7 (12 innings)
This game was defined by some early fireworks, and then a long stretch of dominating pitching. Cal Raleigh staked Seattle to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning when he took Zach Plesac deep, and Jose Ramirez got one back in the bottom of the first when he lifted a sacrifice fly. Then Plesac and his counterpart George Kirby locked things down, pitching seven and six innings respectively without allowing any more runs.
In the ninth, Emmanuel Clase was uncharacteristically shaky, allowing a one-out double and a walk with a wild pitch that allowed the runner to advance to third. Tommy La Stella grounded out, but the ball was hit to the right side allowed the runner to score and give Seattle an insurance run. That was critical in extending the game, as Cleveland tied things up on a two-run double off the bat of Will Brennan.
The 10th was uneventful for both teams, and in the 11th they traded a pair of runs each to force a 12th inning. There, Teoscar Hernandez singled home a runner for Seattle but they stranded two runners in scoring position. Cleveland was set up with runners on second and third after Ramirez was intentionally walked and Penn Murfee threw away the ball on a pickoff attempt. Josh Naylor put a ground ball in play that scored a run, and Josh Bell mirrored him to bring the walk-off run in.
Houston Astros (4-6) 5, Minnesota Twins (6-3) 1
The Astros have scuttled out of the gate this year, and their starting pitching hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. They got a standout performance from their rookie arm Hunter Brown in this one, though, and they made the most of it. Brown twirled a gem for seven innings, allowing just an unearned run and two hits with two walks against seven strikeouts.
Houston did their damage in the middle innings, starting in the third with a two-run home run off the bat of Chas McCormick. McCormick struck again in the fifth inning, singling home a pair of runs after Jeremy Peña and Mauricio Dubon got on board in front of him. In the eighth, the Astros threatened to blow the game open with the bases loaded before a double-play ball nearly ended the inning. Peña still managed to tack on one more with an RBI double, and it was ultimately unnecessary — Houston’s bullpen continued the dominance that Brown had and shut out the Twins over the final two frames.
Boston Red Sox (5-4) 4, Detroit Tigers (2-7) 1: The Tigers struck first and managed to outhit the Sox, but Kutter Crawford rebounded to deliver five strong innings before turning it over to four relievers that held Detroit off the scoreboard. Triston Casas drove in a pair of runs, including one on a solo shot in the ninth inning to lead the scoring for Boston.