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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Rays can’t be stopped, run to 8-0

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the hottest team in baseball is their direct competition.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees bounced back nicely from Friday’s frustrating loss, easing to an uncomplicated 4-1 win in Baltimore. But the Yankees aren’t the top story in the AL East right now; it’s the streaking Rays, who the Yankees are trying to keep pace with in these early stages.

How did things go on Saturday across the American League? Let’s find out:

Tampa Bay Rays (8-0) 11, Oakland Athletics (2-6) 0

Would the Rays run their perfect season to 8-0? They didn’t leave much suspense, easily pummeling a moribund A’s squad en route to MLB’s longest season-opening win streak in 20 years.

Recently-signed NPB starter Shintaro Fujinami struggled again for Oakland, with the Rays tagging him for five runs in 4.1 innings. Isaac Parades started things with a two-run single in the fourth, and Randy Arozarena added two more with his single in the fifth. Paredes was hit by a pitch to force in a run and put the Rays up 5-0 after five.

That might as well have ended the game with Jeffrey Springs on the mound. The rather unheralded right-hander is one of the hottest pitchers in the game to start the year, having tossed six no-hit innings with 12 strikeouts and one walk against the Tigers in his first start, and coming back for seven shutout with seven strikeouts and three hits against Oakland.

But the Rays kept pouring it on as Springs cruised. Manuel Margot added a solo shot in the sixth, and Brandon Lowe provided what seemed to be the exclamation point with a three-dinger later that inning. Arozarena wouldn’t be outdone, though, chipping in a two-run shot in the eighth to run the score to 11-0:

Toronto Blue Jays (5-4) 5, Los Angeles Angels (5-3) 9

Toronto sent out José Berríos on Saturday, once again hoping that the right-hander could recapture some of his previous form. The Angels countered with a starter they have high hopes for, free agent acquisition Tyler Anderson. Neither starter covered themselves in glory, as Berrios in particular still appears to be wandering in the wilderness.

The Jays did stake Berríos to a lead, popping Anderson for a four-spot in the third inning as Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman each crushed two-run homers. But the Angels creamed Berríos over the next few innings, nabbing him for one run in the third and two in the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-3. George Springer hit his first dinger of the season, a solo shot in the fifth to run the score to 5-3, but the Jays couldn’t hold it from there.

Luis Rengifo hit a solo shot in the fifth, and Mike Trout smoked his third homer of the year to put the Angels in front:

Berríos finished with six runs allowed in four-plus innings. He was hardly outdueled by Anderson, who yielded five runs in 4.2 innings, but the Angels’ bullpen was able to stabilize things in relief of Anderson.

Mike Trout look-alike Hunter Renfroe doubled the Angels’ lead with his own homer in the eighth as the Angels coasted to a victory:

It’s only two starts, but Berríos is off to a horrific start coming off a terrible 2022. Toronto has to be concerned that the player they once saw as a potential ace is just lost at this point. The Blue Jays have a few terrific starters at the top of their rotation, but how they manage the back of their staff is something to monitor as the season progresses.

Minnesota Twins (6-2) 3, Houston Astros (3-6) 2 (10 innings)

The Astros’ shaky start continues, with the Twins holding on yesterday in what turned out to be a slugfest. The teams exchanged huge blows early, with the Twins taking a lead on the second on Kyle Farmer’s three-run homer, as well as Trevor Larnach’s RBI single. But Houston immediately struck back, as Yordan Alvarez’s screaming line drive grand slam tied the game at four in the third:

The teams’ respective starters settled down a little bit from there, with Minnesota’s Joe Ryan in particular looking sharp after the early implosion, surviving to provide six innings with 10 strikeouts against one walk and the four runs allowed. Houston’s Luis García could only make it four innings with four runs allowed, as he’s had a couple of rough starts here in April.

Christian Vásquez retook the lead for the Twins with an RBI single in the sixth, and made it 6-4 with another RBI single in the eighth. Byron Buxton took it from there, giving Minnesota breathing room with a three-run dinger:

The Astros did rally in the ninth, as Jeremy Pena’s two-run homer cut the lead to 9-6. Houston put two on with two out to bring the tying run to the plate, but Jhoan Durán struck out Yanier Diaz to close things out.

Seattle Mariners (4-5) 3, Cleveland Guardians (5-4) 2

This one featured a Marco Gonzales vs. Cal Quantrill pitching matchup, as both clubs sent out one of their weaker arms. Each team got a start they likely would’ve accepted ahead of time, with Gonzales navigating 5.2 innings of one-run ball, and Quantrill exiting after five innings and three runs allowed.

Jarred Kelenic continued his solid start, putting Seattle quickly out in front with a two-run single in the first inning. Eugenio Suarez singled home another to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead in the second, though Quantrill settled down from there to give his offense some time to get back in the game.

Myles Straw doubled one home off of Gonzales in the fifth, and Cleveland pulled within one on Jose Ramirez’s RBI double in the seventh. The Guardians had a chance to take the lead right there, but failed to get another run across with the bases loaded and one out.

Cleveland threatened again in the ninth, putting two on with two out against Seattle closer Paul Sewald, but Josh Naylor grounded out to end the game, as the Mariners just held on to cinch a series win in this three-game set.

Other Games

Boston Red Sox (4-4) 14, Detroit Tigers (2-6) 5: A huge second inning keyed this Boston win. Detroit starter Joey Wentz was pulled having walked in two runs, and Rafael Devers greeted reliever Garrett Hill with a grand slam to put Boston up 6-0. Adam Duvall and Raimel Tapia added homers of their own, while Devers notched his second dinger later in the game.