The Yankees are off to a strong start in 2023, taking both of their opening series against NL opponents. While they came out on the right end of a tidy 4-2 victory over the Phillies yesterday, so too did most of their likely playoff rivals, keeping the top end of the American League table busy.
Tampa Bay Rays (6-0) 7, Washington Nationals (1-5) 2
Yes, the Rays are 6-0 and hats off to them for a dominating start to the season, especially from their pitching staff. I would never remark that a team of small, ground-burrowing mammals could take at least one game in a series against the Nationals, although I will wonder aloud how a vole at shortstop would wear his pants.
Shane McClanahan was the only Rays hurler to give up runs in this one, giving up RBI hits in the second and fourth while getting six Nationals himself to earn the win. The Rays clubbed two home runs in their win, including one off the bat of Wander Franco, small feet and all.
Detroit Tigers (2-4) 2, Houston Astros (3-4) 8
After dropping the first two games of the series to the Tigers, my Cy Young pick Cristian Javier did exactly what aces should do, shutting down the vaunted Tigers lineup and halting the mini-skid Houston was on. Like seemingly most starters in yesterday’s slate, Javier threw six innings, allowing a single run with five strikeouts. Javier filled the strike zone, with more than 70 percent of his offerings going for strikes, and inducing four groundouts to go along with those whiffs.
The powerful Astros lineup also got themselves back on the horse, notching 11 hits and a pair of walks, with three of those hits leaving the ballpark. Chas McCormick got the team on the board in the second inning with a two-run shot, Kyle Tucker added a solo bomb in the fourth, and Jeremy Peña hit the dagger with his first home run of the season in the eighth.
Cleveland Guardians (5-2) 6, Oakland Athletics (2-4) 4
It took 10 innings, but the Guardians managed to pull out a win on the west coast. Rookie starter Hunter Gaddis tossed, you guessed it, six innings without surrendering a run, albeit with only a 2:1 K:BB ratio. Cleveland was up 4-0 headed into the eighth, before Oakland came through with a pair of home runs to knot the score:
Unfortunately for A’s fans, their bullpen couldn’t hold down the Guardians long enough. In that way they do, the Guardians pushed across the eventual winning run on an RBI groundout that saw zombie runner Andrés Giménez come home to break the tie. Cleveland added one more ahead of Emmanuel Clase shutting the door for the win.
Los Angeles Angels (4-2) 4, Seattle Mariners (2-5) 3
The Mariners, a rather sexy pick to make some noise in the AL after breaking out last year, have stumbled in the season’s first week and couldn’t get past Shohei Ohtani, even on a day when Ohtani wasn’t quite as dominant on the mound as he can be. The superstar threw, yes, six innings, but struggled with command early, ending up with 69 pitches after three innings.
Logan O’Hoppe put the Angels up 2-1 by that point with his second career home run, allowing Ohtani the time needed to figure out his command problems. He struck out five in his last three innings of work, allowing just one hit and facing the minimum. The bullpen did, of course, threaten to let him down by allowing a pair of runs in the seventh, but the Angels held on.
Toronto Blue Jays (3-3) 3, Kansas City Royals (1-4) 0
Zack Greinke is one of just eight pitchers to strike out both Vlad Guerreros, senior and junior, and the future Hall of Famer put together another vintage outing against the Jays at home. Stop me if you’ve heard this, Greinke threw six innings, allowing one run although Vlad Jr. did manage two hits off the righthander.
Vlad also went yard to push the Jays’ lead to two once Zack was on the bench:
Vlad’s been through a bit of a power shortage to start the season, with this being his first home run of the campaign, but his five walks against just a single strikeout early indicate that he’s got command of his at-bats, and we should expect more results like this.
Alek Manoah outdid Greinke by an inning and an earned run, although his 5:4 K:BB ratio should raise some eyebrows despite his sterling runs and hits column.
Tough time to be a Red Sox fan I guess, as the boys in Boston were swept at home by the Pirates. Mitch Keller sparkling over seven innings, allowing just a single run and striking out a batter per inning, in a nice bounceback start from a disappointing Opening Day outing against the Reds. The top four hitters in the Sox order were a combined 1-14 with two walks, leaving nothing on the table for Triston Casas or Christian Arroyo, who did manage to reach base three times between them.
Jacob deGrom also had a nice return to form after some Opening Day hiccups. fanning 11 O’s across his six innings, giving up two hits and one run. deGrom had 25 (!) swings and misses on the day, 11 on that turbo slider that’s consistently been one of the greatest pitches of the modern era. Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez made his major league debut and after a tough first inning held his own, but there’s just not much you can do when deGrom throws like that.