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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Are the Rays ever going to lose?

The Rays dismissed the Red Sox again to move to 11-0.

Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Perhaps embarrassed a touch by their shaky effort on Monday, the Yankees came out swinging after a slow start last night. They trailed the Guardians after the first, 2-0, but came back with 11 unanswered runs to win going away behind Gerrit Cole. You love to see it!

That’s what was going on in Cleveland. Here’s what was going on elsewhere around the league.

Pittsburgh Pirates (7-4) 7, Houston Astros (5-7) 4

Cristian Javier probably wasn’t expecting to be outpitched by Mitch Keller, but that’s exactly what happened on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The Pirates’ right-hander recovered from solo shots by Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker to pitch six otherwise proficient innings. Javier gave up two bombs as well, and unlike with Keller, they came with men on base. Center fielder Jack Suwinski lifted his first of the season tot knot the game at 2-2 in the second, and four innings later, Javier made a mistake to Rays alum Ji Man Choi ...

... who thanked him by depositing a two-run blast of his own into the Allegheny River.

The Pirates nursed the 4-2 lead into the ninth, but 2022 All-Star David Bednar couldn’t close the deal. A two-run double by Chas McCormick tied the game back up, though Bednar at least got Bregman to ground out and Jose Abreu to strike out after an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez.

Facing dominant closer Ryan Pressly, the Bucs were on the back foot in the bottom of the ninth. They sure didn’t seem fazed, though. Rodolfo Castro blooped a hit to begin a rally, and an out later, beloved fan favorite Andrew McCutchen pinch-hit a single to left. That was nothing compared to what rookie Ji Hwan Bae did immediately thereafter:

How ‘bout that? The Bucs did it, and the Astros saw a potential W slip by the wayside.

Tampa Bay Rays (11-0) 7, Boston Red Sox (5-6) 2

Say whatever you want about the competition, but as I think I’ve said a few times in a few different platforms, you can only play who’s in front of you. You still might lose, too! The Astros dropped two of three at home to the Tigers a week ago. But the Rays just keep winning.

Monday night was a 1-0 nail-biter over the Red Sox decided late, and Tuesday was a blowout in comparison. Shane McClanahan rolled over a Red Sox lineup now seriously missing Adam Duvall, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning and striking out nine batters across five frames. By the time the Red Sox actually scored off McClanahan, the Rays’ lineup had already given him a 5-0 lead by bombarding Garrett Whitlock in his 2023 debut.

Tampa Bay had scored in first, second, and fourth, but the back-to-back home runs by Yandy Díaz and Brandon Lowe gave them all the confidence in the world that they could move to 11-0. The Red Sox could only muster one hit over the next three innings, and their second run came in essentially garbage time during the ninth. The Rays remained perfect and continued their march to potentially tie the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers (13-0) for the longest undefeated run to start a season in MLB history.

Toronto Blue Jays (7-4) 9, Detroit Tigers (2-8) 3

Prior to last night, the Blue Jays were the only one of the 30 MLB teams who had yet to play a home game. Despite some first-inning defensive excellence from Kevin Kiermaier, the Tigers threatened to spoil the party when Nick Maton launched a three-run shot against Alek Manoah in the top of the second. But then Toronto remembered that their opposition was merely the Tigers and the fireworks quickly followed. (It didn’t help that Matt Manning broke his foot and had to leave the start.)

Matt Chapman was the first to go deep with a dinger in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-2. Next up were back-to-back shots from Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer an inning later. The Blue Jays were in front, and they put the game to bed in eighth by dropping five runs on Mason Englert via home runs from Bo Bichette and Alejandro Kirk.

Chicago Cubs (7-4) 14, Seattle Mariners (4-8) 9

Baby Bomber alum Hayden Wesneski was so-so at best in his 2023 debut a few days ago, when he allowed three runs on six hits and two walks to the Reds in 4.2 innings. As it turns out, that looked like vintage Jake Arrieta compared to his last start last night against Seattle. A two-run roundtripper by Eugenio Suárez in the opening frame put the Mariners in front, and they knocked Wesneski out of the game in the second by tallying five more runs.

Wesneski departed after recording only four outs and it was a 7-0 ballgame after just two innings.

Much to the Cubs’ delight, however, Seattle starter Chris Flexen somehow found a way to give up more runs than Wesneski. The Cubs smashed the veteran to pieces in the third by hanging a snowman on the scoreboard to complete the seven-run comeback in a hurry. Trey Mancini slugged a two-run shot for his first homer at Wrigley Field and after fellow offseason addition Eric Hosmer rolled an RBI single into right, 24-year-old outfielder Nelson Velázquez turned this game upside down with a go-ahead grand slam.

There’s no getting around the fact that this was a brutal, brutal start from Flexen after being staked to a huge lead. It’s even more painful considering that Seattle is now 4-8 to begin 2023 in wake of their thrilling 2022.

The Mariners got one run back in the fourth and the runway was there for a comeback with plenty of game left and a not-exactly-acclaimed Cubs bullpen. But they mostly held the fort and the Cubs kept scoring en route to a 14-9 win.

Other Matchups

Baltimore Orioles (6-5) 12, Oakland Athletics (2-9) 8

With Oakland in town, top Orioles prospect Grayson Rodriguez had a perfect opportunity to shove in his home debut. But the lowly A’s didn’t play along, and they instead touched him up for five runs on six hits and four walks in 4.1 innings of work. Austin Voth took over after Rodriguez walked the bases loaded and didn’t provide much relief at all. A three-run blast on an absolute cookie of a pitch to Shea Langeliers put the A’s in front, 7-3.

Since Oakland is still lousy, Rodriguez’s teammates picked him up with a one-two punch from Ryan Mountcastle (three-run shot in the fifth) and Austin Hays (game-tying dinger in the sixth). The two were at it again in the seventh, as Hays put the O’s in front with an RBI single and Mountcastle delivered a ringing grand slam to slam the door on the hapless A’s. As an added bonus for Mountcastle, that gave him nine RBI on the day, the most in the majors since Duvall on September 9, 2020, and tied for the Orioles’ all-time record.

Minnesota Twins (7-4) 4, Chicago White Sox (5-7) 3 (10 innings)

Chicago jumped on Pablo López for a pair of runs in the top of the first, but Byron Buxton struck back with his 100th career homer to knot things up. Michael A. Taylor slugged one of his own in the second, and López settled in to nurse that lead deep into the ballgame, fanning 10 White Sox. Although Jhoan Duran blew the save on a Luis Robert Jr. bomb into the Chicago bullpen, the White Sox defense bailed him out in the bottom of the 10th. Taylor tried to bunt the zombie runner over and Hanser Alberto threw it away. Ballgame.