The Yankees again looked listless on Sunday, dropping a series for the first time on 2023. Unfortunately for them, it was also a great day for the rest of their rivals. After watching most of them win on Saturday, nearly all of the Yankees’ top AL foes won again on Sunday. Let’s go through the bad news:
Tampa Bay Rays (19-3) 4, Chicago White Sox (7-15) 1
The Rays just have it all working right now. Though they only narrowly won the first two games of this series, on Sunday, they cruised past the White Sox for the sweep, looking impressive across the board.
As is typical, they pitched and caught the ball as well as anybody. Zach Eflin was sharp, walking none across five innings and yielding just one run, on an Eloy Jiménez double in the fourth. Yonny Chirinos and Peter Fairbanks were lights out in relief, combining for four perfect innings with three strikeouts. Behind them, the Rays made a number of quality defensive plays, ranging from Yandy Díaz flashing the leather at first:
To Luke Raley laying out in right:
It was a big day for that pair, as Raley opened the scoring with his fourth homer of 2023, a two-run shot off Lucas Giolito in the second, and Díaz added an RBI groundout that same inning. Harold Ramírez hit a solo shot in the third to give Tampa a 4-0 lead, one they were never in real danger of relinquishing.
Thus far, the Rays have feasted on awful competition, playing several last-place teams. But they’ve mostly thrashed that competition, and have already opened up a gap in AL East. They’ll at last play some real foes this week, as Tampa squares off with Houston. We’ll see how they fare with their first big test of the year.
Cleveland Guardians (11-11) 7, Miami Marlins (12-10) 4
This one featured a matchup of pitching prospects past and present, with Jesús Luzardo going for Miami and Logan Allen* starting for Cleveland. Luzardo has dazzled at times in his big league career, and always feels on the precipice of a true breakout, while Allen was a Top-100 prospect for Baseball America prior to 2023 and made his MLB debut yesterday.
*Be careful not to confuse him with the other Logan Allen, who pitched for Cleveland from 2019-22 and is now in the Rockies organization.
It turned out to be the rookie’s day, as Allen limited the Marlins to one run on five hits and one walk against eight strikeouts over six strong. The only blemish on the 2020 second-rounder’s outing was a rare Jon Berti home run, a solo shot in the third.
Cleveland quickly answered against Luzardo, with Jose Ramírez ripping a two-run dinger:
And Josh Bell going back-to-back:
Bell doubled home another in the fifth off Luzardo, ending the left-hander’s day after 4.1 innings and with Cleveland ahead 4-1.
The Guardians tacked on a couple more against the Miami bullpen, which proved crucial, as an ice-cold Avisail García found a good swing and smashed a three-run dinger to cut the lead to 6-4 in the eighth. But that was all the Marlins could muster, with Emmanuel Clase coming on for an easy save in the ninth.
Houston Astros (12-10) 6, Atlanta Braves (14-7) 3
Don’t look now, but the Astros might be coming on. Atlanta had their chances yesterday to avoid the sweep at the hands of Houston, but the Astros bats came alive late in the game to rally against the Atlanta bullpen and get the brooms out.
Max Fried had Atlanta in position, tossing 6.2 shutout innings. Fried just barely outdueled Cristian Javier, who is looking like a potential threat in the Houston rotation. The young right-hander fired six innings with just one earned run allowed and 10 strikeouts.
By the time the starters exited, Atlanta had 2-0 advantage, thanks to a Kevin Pillar solo homer in the fifth and an RBI groundout from Austin Riley in the sixth. But Houston’s bullpen held firm, while Atlanta’s Nick Anderson and AJ Minter faltered. Yordan Alvarez tied the game with a bases-loaded two-run single off Anderson in the eighth:
Minter came on to limit the damage there, but unraveled the next inning. The lefty gave up three hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch in the ninth, with Houston surging ahead for a 5-2 lead. With closer Ryan Pressly off for the day, Bryan Abreu came on for a relatively smooth save and the sweep.
St. Louis Cardinals (9-13) 7, Seattle Mariners (10-12) 3
The Cards got off to a fast start here, with Lars Nootbaar lining a leadoff home run off Chris Flexen. A second run scored on a double play later in the inning, spotting Jack Flaherty a 2-0 lead before he took the mound in Seattle.
Flaherty turned in one his better starts of the last couple years, as the erstwhile ace tries to regain his lost form. He did allow three runs over six innings, including a solo homer to Jarred Kelenic as part of a three-run second inning that pushed the Mariners into the lead. But Flaherty’s day was clean other than that, with the right-hander striking nine against two walks. The nine K’s ties for the most Flaherty’s recorded in start since September of 2020.
St. Louis tied things up with a Tyler O’Neill RBI single in the third, then delivered the decisive blow in the fourth, with Nolan Gorman sending out a three-run homer for a 6-3 lead:
The Cards would go on to win 7-3 to salvage the final game of this interleague set. Both they and the Mariners remain off to slow starts, with Seattle trailing the Rangers by 4.5 games in the AL West, and the Cardinals 6.5 games back of the upstart Pirates in the NL Central.
Boston Red Sox (12-11) 12, Milwaukee Brewers (15-7) 5: Trailing 4-3 entering the top of the eighth, the Red Sox launched a full-scale assault on Milwaukee’s pitching. Justin Turner and Masataka Yoshida each hit solo homers to nudge Boston front. The Red Sox batted around and scored three more, bringing Yoshida up again with the bases loaded, and Yoshida responded with his second homer of the inning, a grand slam. Boston might be in last place in the AL East but they’re only a game and a half behind New York and Toronto.
Baltimore Orioles (14-7) 5, Detroit Tigers (7-13) 1: Top prospect Grayson Rodriguez had the best start of his young career, shutting out Detroit over five innings with six strikeouts against three walks. Only problem was, Eduardo Rodriguez was spectacular, retiring the first 18 batters he faced en route to seven shutout. The teams exchanged runs in the eighth, and headed to the tenth tied at 1. Keegan Akin worked around the zombie runner in the top half, and Baltimore ended it in the bottom, bunting the runner over, and then watching Adam Frazier score on a game-ending wild pitch: