On a day when the suspension of Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players in a doping scandal overshadowed the on-field action, there were some significant results on Monday as Atlanta, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit all beat close rivals to extend their divisional leads.
Rodriguez made his first appearance of the season, coincidentally on the same day it was announced he was banned until the end of next season. Playing under appeal — as he is likely to do for the remainder of the season — he struggled at the plate, as did the whole team as the Yankees were beaten by the lowly Chicago White Sox.
Away from the scandal, Atlanta beat Washington to notch their season-best 11th straight win and further stretch an already huge divisional lead, while Detroit also beat their nearest rivals Cleveland, thanks to a ninth-inning three-run homer, to make it nine straight victories.
The Dodgers beat St Louis to bring up a 15th consecutive road win, while Texas closed within two games of the American League West lead by defeating the Los Angeles Angels.
Rodriguez, making his return to the majors after a long-term hip injury, went one-for-four and was the target of intense vitriol from Chicago fans as the White Sox beat the Yankees 8-1.
His sole hit came in his first at-bat, with a mistimed hit lobbing into left field for a single.
There was further bad news for New York, with captain Derek Jeter returning to the disabled list because of a strained right calf and veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte (7-9) struggling on the mound.
Alex Rios drove in four runs for Chicago. Alexei Ramirez added four hits and Jose Quintana (6-3) pitched into the seventh.
Atlanta’s Justin Upton led off the eighth inning with a tiebreaking homer, lifting the Braves to a 3-2 win over Washington.
Upton’s 20th homer came on a 3-2 pitch from Tyler Clippard (6-2), who replaced Stephen Strasburg to begin the eighth.
The Nationals again failed to provide much run support for Strasburg, who struck out nine in seven innings, allowing two runs. The past five times he has allowed two earned runs or fewer, Washington lost.
Detroit’s Alex Avila came up with the three-run homer in the ninth inning that gave the Tigers a 4-2 win over Cleveland.
The Tigers were three outs away from having their lead in the AL Central cut to two games before their comeback against Indians closer Chris Perez (4-2), who had converted 11 consecutive save opportunities.
After Victor Martinez’s RBI single made it 2-1, Perez issued a walk before Avila drove a pitch over the wall in left-center, stunning a Cleveland crowd ready to celebrate the team’s biggest win this season.
It was a demoralizing setback for the Indians, who fell to 3-10 against the Tigers this season and had their home winning streak stopped at 11.
Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke pitched into the seventh inning and raised his batting average to .405 with an RBI single, helping the Dodgers defeat St Louis 3-2.
Greinke (9-3) allowed two runs in 6-1/3 innings for his 100th career victory.
Los Angeles’ feat of 15 straight road wins was the best since Cincinnati did it in 1957. The Dodgers are two wins shy of the NL record set by the 1916 New York Giants.
Texas’ Adrian Beltre homered to help the Rangers beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-2, providing a silver lining to the black cloud that descended with the news of Nelson Cruz’s suspension for 50 games.