The Red Sox and Yankees, expected to battle each other for first place in the AL East, have instead been battling mediocrity this year, with both teams off to sluggish starts.
But they’ve both built some momentum in recent days, and each scored an extra-inning victory Sunday to continue in the right direction.
The Red Sox (9-13) got a sacrifice fly from Christian Vazquez in the 11th inning to finish a three-game sweep of the first-place Rays with a 4-3 win at Tropicana Field. David Price struck out 10 and gave up two runs in five innings.
New York’s win wasn’t pretty – the Yankees bullpen squandered a 5-0 lead against the Royals – but Austin Romine played the hero with a walkoff hit in the 10th for a 7-6 victory.
New York (11-10) has now won five of six and is only 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Rays.
While both teams have some momentum going, they face tough challenges in the days ahead. The Yankees have been wracked by injuries this season that have sidelined almost a dozen key players. Aaron Judge is out indefinitely with an oblique injury, and Didi Gregorius and Luis Severino are out until mid-June and early July, respectively. Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, Gary Sanchez, Dellin Betances, Troy Tulowitzki and Greg Bird are all currently out but expected back at various times within the next month or so.
In Boston, the Red Sox are dealing with a bad World Series hangover. The pitching has been horrendous (they rank 29th in team ERA) and the offense has struggled so far.
But for one day, at least, everything worked out well for the two AL East rivals.
Studs of the Night
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg struck out 11 Marlins in eight scoreless innings, yielding only two hits, to earn his second victory of 2019. Ryan Zimmerman hit two solo homers for all the offense Washington needed in a 5-0 win.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson went 3 for 4 with a pair of home runs and four RBIs in the Braves’ 11-5 win over Cleveland.
Rockies right-hander Jon Gray gave up only one hit in six scoreless innings against the Phillies, striking out five.
Angels DH Tommy La Stella cracked a pair of solo homers in an 8-6 win over the Mariners.
Rangers left-fielder Joey Gallo had five RBIs in an 11-10 victory over Houston.
Dud of the Night
Astros starter Collin McHugh got hammered by the Rangers, giving up nine earned runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Oakland center fielder Ramón Laureano usually makes the highlight reel because of his cannon-like arm, but here he takes away a sure home run from Teoscar Hernandez. And the Athletics turn it into a whacky double play.
Noah Syndergaard slugs his fifth career home run – with a lot of help from Cardinals center fielder Dexter Fowler.
No one, not even Josh Hader, can stop Cody Bellinger right now.
Phillies (12-9) at Mets (11-10), 7:10 p.m. ET – The Mets really need Steven Matz (1-1, 4.96 ERA) and other starters to step up with ace Jacob deGrom sidelined. Philadelphia starter Jake Arrieta (3-1, 2.25 ERA) appears to have found his groove again after a rough 2018 campaign.