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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Perfect Rays streak extends to a dozen

Can anyone counteract the devil magic down in Tampa?

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

In one of the weirder games of the young season, the Yankees managed to eke out a 4-3 victory over the Guardians to take four series from four to open their campaign. Aaron Boone might’ve gotten tossed in the first, but the team scratched and clawed for all nine innings to secure the dub. It’s the kind of grind it out effort that speaks volumes about the group of players they have in that clubhouse.

That game was far from the only action on a baseball-packed afternoon, so let’s unwrap the results in the contests featuring New York’s AL rivals.

Houston Astros (6-7) 7, Pittsburgh Pirates (7-5) 0

Facing the surprisingly competitive upstart Pirates in the rubber match of this three-game set, the Astros easily brushed aside their opponents to clinch the series. José Urquidy pitched six scoreless innings surrendering just two hits to put his team on the course to victory. And while opposition starter Rich Hill was more than serviceable giving Pittsburgh six innings of two run ball, relievers Dauri Moreta and Chase De Jong combined to surrender five runs in the seventh and eighth to scupper any chance of a comeback.

Jose Abreu opened the scoring in the third with an RBI double, followed by a Corey Julks solo shot an inning later. The score would remain 2-0 until that seventh inning, when Alex Bregman clubbed a three-run shot to put this one out of reach.

Sacrifice flies from Yainer Diaz and Kyle Tucker in the following frame brought us to our final score, 7-0. The Astros return home to host the Rangers in an intriguing early season divisional tilt.

Seattle Mariners (5-8) 5, Chicago Cubs (6-5) 2

The Mariners avoided the sweep at Wrigley, and some of the developments from this game will go a long way in helping the M’s forget the sting of the previous two contests. Jarred Kelenic’s resurgence tour rumbles on as he belted the second-longest home run ever recorded at Wrigley in the Statcast Era. The blast came in at a whopping 482 feet into the upper deck bleachers in center, and stands behind only Willson Contreras’ 491-foot bomb in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS. It’s his third home run in as many games as he continues to put the horrors of the past two seasons in the rearview mirror.

The moonshot even came back-to-back with Teoscar Hernández, who led off the eighth with a 419-foot tank of his own. The former Blue Jay had two driven in on the day while Ty France and Eugenio Suárez accounted for the other two Seattle runs. It started as a pitchers’ duel between Logan Gilbert and Marcus Stroman, with the former giving the visitors 6.2 innings of one-run ball and the latter surrendering two runs over six innings. Chicago’s runs came in the form of a Cody Bellinger two-run home run to make the defeat at least a bit more palatable, 5-2.

Boston Red Sox (5-7) 7, Tampa Bay Rays (12-0) 9

Tampa Bay handed starting pitcher Taj Bradley his MLB debut, and he impressed because of course he did, holding the Red Sox to three runs on five hits against eight strikeouts in five innings.

The Rays looked on course for another cruise control victory against Boston, going up 6-1 through four innings, but a late surge against an uncharacteristically shaky Tampa bullpen made a game of this one. Randy Arozarena laid down an early statement of intent with a three-run blast in the first while Wander Franco drove in a pair with a double in the Rays’ three-run fourth — one of three doubles on the day for the young shortstop.

Boston managed to hang with their opponents in the middle innings, scoring one in the fourth, two in the fifth, and one in the sixth before a three-run jack from Rafael Devers in the seventh drew his team within one. That was as close as it would get, with Arozarena driving in his fourth run via sac fly in the eighth to down the visitors, 9-7, and maintain the Rays’ perfect start to the season at 12-0.

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

The Tigers managed to shut down the Blue Jays for eight innings, but as they say, that’s why you play all nine. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched one of his best outings since swapping Boston for Detroit, holding the potent Toronto offense to a solitary run in six innings. Kevin Gausman had an arguably more dominant display if less effective on the run suppression side, allowing three runs in eight innings while cutting down 11 Tigers batters.

Both teams scored a run in the fourth, Detroit’s coming on a Nick Maton solo home run and Toronto’s on a Whit Merrifield RBI single. The Tigers added a pair more in the seventh on a two-run shot from Kerry Carpenter while the Blue Jays hitters found themselves flummoxed by Rodriguez and the Detroit middle relievers.

Enter the bottom of the ninth with the home team down, 3-1. Facing Tigers closer (checks notes) Trey Wingenter — a man who has not pitched in the majors since 2019 — the Blue Jays hitters had to like their chances. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led off with a single, followed by a Matt Chapman walk and Daulton Varsho HBP to load the bases with no outs. This allowed Merrifield and Alejandro Kirk to lift back-to-back sac flies to send this game to extras, where George Springer walked it off with a single to score ghost runner Danny Jansen.

Other Matchups

Oakland Athletics (3-9) 8, Baltimore Orioles (6-6) 4

Oakland right fielder Brent Rooker opened this contest with a three-run homer in the first and from there the Orioles were chasing all game long. They managed to tie it up at four apiece with a two-run seventh, but the A’s opened the eighth and ninth innings with three straight singles to score three and one runs apiece as they down the Birds, 8-4.