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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Tigers somehow win in Houston again

The Rays rallied in DC, the Jays took care of business in KC, and the Astros faltered at home to Detroit.

Detroit Tigers v Houston Astros
Remember: His name is Spencer Torkelson.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

As Kevin detailed, last night was a quiet one in the Bronx as the Yankees fell to the Phillies, 4-1. Not much went right for New York in Philadelphia’s first win of 2023.

Here’s what the rest of the Yankees’ top American League rivals did while the Yankees flailed at Phillies pitching.

Tampa Bay Rays (5-0) 10, Washington Nationals (1-4) 6

I’m an absolute sucker because for a hot second, I thought that the 2023 Washington Nationals could actually win this game. Gandalf would call it a fool’s hope, and he would be right to do so.

The two sides combined for eight runs in the first couple innings, as neither Josh Fleming nor Chad Kuhl offered much support out of the gate. Jose Siri gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead, but the Nats quickly answered off Fleming on doubles by CJ Abrams and Lane Thomas to tie it up. Kuhl calmed down and Washington’s bullpen actually kept the Rays at bay for a little while as they scrapped together a pair of runs and carried a 6-4 advantage into the eighth. Sure, Randy Arozarena promptly smacked his second RBI double of the night to make it a one-run game, but the Nats were still up.

Then came the ninth and the rails came off. Luke Raley and Josh Lowe slugged back-to-back home runs off Kyle Finnegan to put the Rays ahead, and Yandy Díaz added the exclamation point with a three-run blast. The Rays remain undefeated and off to their best start in franchise history.

Toronto Blue Jays (2-3) 4, Kansas City Royals (1-4) 1

Franmil Reyes hit one of the longest homers I’ve ever seen at Kauffman Stadium, sailing 454 feet away and over the fountains. That link is absolutely worth a click. It also represented about the only positive for Kansas City fans on the night, outside of Bobby Witt Jr.’s defense.

Making his first start since August 15th after a late-2022 demotion to the bullpen, Yusei Kikuchi pitched well for Toronto. The Reyes bomb was his only real mistake in 5.1 innings of three-hit, one-run ball, walking just a single batter. Royals starter Kris Bubic gave up seven hits in his five innings but did well to limit Toronto to two runs. However, when your team only scores once, there’s no margin for error, and Daulton Varsho matched Reyes with a solo shot of his own — his first in a Blue Jays uniform.

The Toronto bullpen held the fort and wrapped up a 4-1 win.

Detroit Tigers (2-3) 6, Houston Astros (2-4) 3

Apparently, winning in Houston is no big deal if you’re the 2023 Tigers, expectations be damned! The Yankees should take notes, I guess.

Detroit won its second in a row at Minute Maid Park as wayward prospect Matt Manning pitched well enough to get the W over Cy Young contender Framber Valdez. Manning surrendered a fourth-inning homer to Kyle Tucker that vaulted Houston ahead, 2-1, but an offense that looked dire in 2022 actually scored some runs for him.

Leading the charge was another disappointment from last year, Spencer Torkelson, who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2020. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a huge eighth-inning homer off Ryne Stanek that gave Detroit some elusive insurance runs in Houston.

If Torkelson can even be a semblance of the top bat that he was purported to be, then that would obviously be huge for Detroit. Contending this year is a long shot, but they really need prospects like him to pan out.

Matt Vierling tacked on an RBI double in the ninth, and Detroit held on for a 6-3 victory.

Oakland Athletics (2-3) 4, Cleveland Guardians (4-2) 3

Well hey, the A’s won a game for once! They nearly won in a slugfest on Monday too actually, and Seth Brown belted a game-tying homer in the ninth off dominant Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase. Although they lost in extra innings, they were able to take out another acclaimed Guardians reliever on Tuesday.

The A’s also did yeoman’s work against Shane Bieber, as offseason prospect acquisition Esteury Ruiz doubled in a run in the third, and another scored that inning as well. Cleveland tied it up in the fourth after Gabriel Arias took former Yankees pitcher JP Sears deep, and the ever-steady José Ramírez gave them a lead on a fifth-inning RBI double. Small ball victimized Bieber in the home half of the sixth though, as Tony Kemp singled, stole second, moved to third on a grounder, and scored on a wild pitch by Bieber.

Meanwhile, this roll call of A’s relievers held the Guardians both scoreless and hitless: Zach Jackson, Dany Jiménez, Sam Moll, and Trevor May. I don’t think that any of them are bad (especially not May), but that is not what Cleveland skipper Terry Francona wanted to see. With his offense flailing, he had to watch as the A’s once again small balled a pitcher to death in the ninth. James Karinchak walked Ryan Noda, and after a strikeout, he moved to second on a weak grounder from Ruiz. That set the stage for Kemp to walk it off:

Seattle Mariners (2-4) 11, Los Angeles Angels (3-2) 2

Fresh off their first playoff appearance in over two decades, it hasn’t been the best opening week for the Mariners, but they got out some of their frustration on Tuesday night in Seattle. José Suarez and Jaime Barría were hammered by the M’s, who put up crooked numbers in the fourth, fifth, and seventh innings. That would’ve been tough for the Angels to handle on any night, but they also had to contend with Luis Castillo, who shut them out on two hits and two walks in 5.2 innings of work.

All of the Mariners’ top six hitters in the lineup registered multi-hit games, and each of Teoscar Hernández and AJ Pollock belted their first two homers since joining Seattle this past offseason. That’s a good way to say hello to the fans at T-Mobile Park.

Other Games

Pittsburgh Pirates (3-2) 4, Boston Red Sox (2-3) 1: The Bryan Reynolds Show continued at Fenway. The All-Star outfielder homered twice in a 7-6 win on Monday and followed it up yesterday with another blast. Boston starter Nick Pivetta also coughed up Ji Hwan Bae’s first career dinger, and the Bucs rookie also made a terrific leaping catch at the Green Monster to rob Rafael Devers of a double. Kudos to former Baby Bomber Roansy Contreras, who spun 5.1 innings of one-run ball in the win.

Baltimore Orioles (3-2) 7, Texas Rangers (3-2) 2: One of the Rangers’ offseason gambles rested on the hope that Andrew Heaney’s mini-renaissance with the 2022 Dodgers would stick. Well, the Andrew Heaney who showed up on Tuesday more closely resembled the disastrous 2021 Yankees trade acquisition, as the Orioles clobbered him for seven runs on seven hits and two walks in just 2.2 innings. Ryan Mountcastle and Jorge Mateo both went yard, and former Rangers All-Star Kyle Gibson tossed seven good innings for his second victory in Baltimore.

Speaking of O’s pitching, it sounds like top prospect Grayson Rodriguez will be called up to make his MLB debut tomorrow. Exciting times in Baltimore!


Miami Marlins (2-4) 1, Minnesota Twins (4-1) 0: Currently, we’re only profiling the AL playoff teams from last year plus the division rivals, so the Twins aren’t normally written up. But I just want to talk about reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara for a second because holy cow is that guy good. He single-handedly ended Minnesota’s perfect season with a 1-0 shutout on exactly 100 pitches. But wait until you see the time of game:

An hour and 57 minutes! In the year 2023! Sandy is amazing.