For one week at least, the angst in New York was on the American League side.
While the Mets swept a pair of division rivals, the Yankees wrapped up their first homestand by losing three of four to Baltimore, with a couple extra-inning games going against them. The slugging tandem of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge has five home runs on the young season, but Stanton already has 20 strikeouts in 10 games and has heard boos from his new home crowd in the Bronx.
After reaching the AL Championship Series last year and adding Stanton, the Yankees came into this season with high expectations, and it will take more than a few whiffs early in the season to change that. The Mets, on the other hand, finished 27 games out of first place in 2017, and the impressive rotation they’d assembled was struggling to stay healthy.
Now the Mets are 7-1 after sweeping a two-game series with Philadelphia and taking three in a row at Washington . Only Boston (8-1) has a better record. Noah Syndergaard is back after being limited to 30 1/3 innings last year because of a torn lat muscle, and even Matt Harvey is showing signs of being a contributor after two ineffective, injury-plagued seasons.
Across town, it’s the Yankees who are dealing with some early health problems. Gary Sanchez has missed some time with a leg issue, and CC Sabathia is on the disabled list. Next up is a three-game series at Fenway Park against the first-place Red Sox, who are threatening to open up a bit of distance on New York.
Some other developments from around the majors:
It’s still very, very early, but so far Shohei Ohtani is testing the upper limits of what appeared possible when the two-way star arrived from Japan. Ohtani allowed one hit in seven shutout innings Sunday for the Los Angeles Angels against Oakland. He’s won both his starts on the mound, and in between, he homered in three consecutive games.
He’s batting .389 on the season, and opponents are hitting .093 off him.
The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen headlining their pitching staff, but division rival Arizona finished right behind Los Angeles in ERA last season, and the Diamondbacks are already four games up on the Dodgers in the NL West. Patrick Corbin rolled through his first two starts for Arizona, striking out 20 with only two walks. With Corbin, Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley and Taijuan Walker, the Diamondbacks have plenty of pitching depth.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Ohtani’s outing Sunday was impressive, and San Diego rookie Christian Villanueva’s three-homer game Tuesday night turned heads. But the honor goes to a familiar star in a new uniform: Andrew McCutchen of the Giants had a career-high six hits Saturday night, the last of which was a three-run homer in the 14th inning that gave San Francisco a 7-5 victory over the Dodgers.
Edwin Encarnacion, a 35-year-old designated hitter with nine career triples, was not a likely candidate for an inside-the-park home run, but the Cleveland slugger hit one Monday night against the Angels. Encarnacion’s drive down the line hit the wall just below the foul pole, then bounced and rolled along the edge of the warning track. Left fielder Justin Upton did not initially realize the ball was still in play, and by the time he retrieved it, Encarnacion was well on his way to scoring.
Honorable mention to Houston’s Carlos Correa, who hit an inside-the-park homer of his own Tuesday night against Baltimore. Correa’s shot bounced off the wall in left-center, where two outfielders had converged. The ball bounced away from both of them and back toward center field.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister