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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Guardians survive in extras while Astros falter

Last year’s Central and West champs both got pushed into extras, but only one came away with a win.

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Yankees made their night easy yesterday, jumping on the Phillies early and scoring often en route to an 8-1 drubbing. Nestor Cortes has shaken off the rust and dropped a quality five shutout innings in his debut, and Gleyber Torres continues to look good in the early going. It’s just four games, but it’s nice to see the team clicking this early.

The same can’t be said around the league, of course. Some of the other presumed playoff contenders haven’t gotten off to the best start in the opening week of play, while others have flown out atop the leaderboard. Let’s catch you up on some of the relevant scores from across baseball last night:

Tampa Bay Rays (4-0) 6, Washington Nationals (1-3) 2

The Rays got on the board immediately in this one, thanks to Luke Raley’s two-run shot off of Nats starter Trevor Williams. In the second inning Francisco Mejia lifted a sacrifice fly to give the Rays another run, and in the fourth Isaac Paredes led off with a solo shot to extend the lead to 4-0.

The action stalled out for a few innings, but Washington finally erased their goose egg in the bottom of the seventh. Garrett Cleavinger took over for Drew Rasmussen (who dominated, allowing just two hits and struck out seven) and promptly got put in a jam when his defense allowed Jeimer Candelario on base via error and then couldn’t handle an infield single from Dominic Smith. Washington still couldn’t manage much more on their own, advancing the runners on a lineout and then knocking one in on a Lane Thomas groundout.

Raley got that run right back for Tampa, however, with his second homer of the game. Both teams dropped in another run in the ninth, but the Nats couldn’t get any other runners on base to start a rally. The Rays are officially 4-0 for the first time in franchise history, so good for them I suppose.

Toronto Blue Jays (1-3) 5, Kansas City Royals (1-3) 9

Man, José Berríos needed a good start to 2023 in the worst way and he did not deliver. Berrios had a nightmare season after re-signing with Toronto, and he got rocked from the get-go here. MJ Melendez laced a double to leadoff the first, and Bobby Witt Jr. singled him home. A pair of singles from Michael Massey and Kyle Isbel scored another run, and a Hunter Dosier groundout later suddenly made it 3-0.

The Royals were quiet for the next two innings, but they put it out of reach in the fourth. Back-to-back singles greeted Berrios to open the frame, and then Nicky Lopez tripled both of them home. Berrios nearly escaped with a pair of strikeouts, but then Vinnie Pasquantino drove a double to right to score Lopez and Witt Jr. scored him on another single. Just like that, Kansas City was up 7-0. Toronto got one back in the fifth inning but Kansas City answered with a two-run shot off of freshly summoned reliever Zach Pop to put them up 9-1. The Jays got a few runs in the later innings to make it appear closer, but the Royals had this game in hand right from the start.

Cleveland Guardians (4-1) 12, Oakland Athletics (1-3) 11 (10 innings)

In a matchup between the defending AL Central champs and an openly tanking AL West basement dweller, the underdog got out to a surprising lead. After falling behind 2-1 in the first inning Oakland tagged Zach Plesac for five runs in the second inning, forcing him to throw 53 pitches and ending his day without a single out recorded in the frame. The big blow came off the bat of Jace Peterson, a three-run shot that ended Plesac’s night and started a procession of relievers from the Cleveland ‘pen.

They were saved from pulling out every arm they had, though, when Xzavion Curry entered the game and grinded his way through five innings of relief. He did allow a two-run shot in the fifth to Ramon Laureano, both otherwise he put his foot in the door and held it open for Cleveland to crawl back in. The Guardians took full advantage, plating three in the fourth and two in the sixth to draw back within a run. They even took back the lead in the eighth thanks to a pair of sac flys and a José Ramirez “triple,” but this game was far from over.

Oakland had six outs to respond, and they went down in order in the bottom of the eighth before hitting into a double play immediately in the ninth. Down to their last out, Aledmys Diaz worked a walk and Seth Brown launched a two-run shot to improbably tie this game and force extras. Unfortunately for these hometown heroics, the A’s not only allowed the free baserunner to score but they also allowed an extra run in on a wild pitch. Oakland got their ghost runner across, but stranded the tying run at second as Cleveland secured their second straight win in extras.

Detroit Tigers (1-3) 7, Houston Astros (2-3) 6 (11 innings)

Now that we’ve gotten through that crazy situation, allow me to take you right back into a similar scenario. The Tigers got thoroughly drubbed in their opening series, but they came out blazing hot against Houston and took a 4-0 lead midway through the fifth. Houston, however, responded at once with a four-run bottom half of the fifth highlighted by Yordan Alvarez blasting his 100th career homer for a game-tying three-run shot.

The Tigers weren’t out of fight, however, and they got back on top in the seventh thanks to a Riley Greene solo shot. Fast-forward to the ninth inning, and the Astros were staring down a two-outs, man on second situation where Jose Abreu came through with a clutch double. Extra innings, here we come again.

Neither team found a way to score in the 10th, but Matt Vierling took Hector Neris deep to straightaway center for a two-run blast in the 11th. Tasked with finding two runs to keep the game alive, Houston could only find one via an Alvarez grounder before Abreu popped up to end it.

Los Angeles Angels (3-1) 7, Seattle Mariners (1-4) 3

The Angels were down a man after Anthony Rendon earned a suspension for grabbing a fan in the stands at the end of the team’s previous game, thinning out the Angels lineup that already leans so much on their two superstars. Luckily for them, Shohei Ohtani is superhuman and continues to wow — his highlight in this one was a two-run shot in the fifth that broke up a 2-2 tie.

The Mariners got one back in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a J.P. Crawford double and an Eugenio Suarez single, but from there the Angels dipped into their ‘pen and shut the game down. The relief corps posted nothing but zeroes the rest of the way, while Taylor Ward and Brandon Drury provided some insurance late with a two-run shot and an RBI double respectively.

Other Games

Pittsburgh Pirates (2-2) 7, Boston Red Sox (2-2) 6: Boston powered their way through a five-run first inning thanks to a trio of homers from Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida, and Triston Casas, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Pirates. Pittsburgh put up a three-spot in the top of the first before Boston’s surge and added runs in the second, third, and fourth innings as potential trade target Bryan Reynolds went deep twice at Fenway. Boston got one run back in the sixth, but otherwise failed to generate anything beyond their one big frame.

Baltimore Orioles (2-2) 2, Texas Rangers (3-1) 0: Texas had a big performance in their opening weekend, but last night they looked an awful lot like the team that was in regular danger of getting no-hit the past couple of years. Josh Jung singled with one out in the second inning, and outside of that the Rangers’ baserunners consisted of a walk from Kyle Bradish, a hit-by-pitch from Danny Coulombe, and an error made by Jorge Mateo. Ouch.