The Week Ahead: Interleague slate in full stride
Freeway Series opens, Yanks head south, Greinke returns to KC
The second Interleague weekend of the season brought with it plenty of drama, from the Mariners' combined no-hitter that featured six pitchers to a walk-off home run in the Bronx to cap a Yankees' Subway Series sweep of the Mets.
With two more weeks of National League vs. American League action forthcoming, the intriguing matchups are only just beginning.
Regional rivalries continue when the Dodgers play host to their neighbors from Orange County, the Angels, beginning on Monday. Meanwhile, the Reds and Indians square off in an in-state clash with both teams in the thick of division races.
The Indians trail the White Sox by a half-game, while the Reds are even with the Pirates after a loss Sunday night in which Joey Votto's career-high 15-game hitting streak was snapped.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers carry the Major Leagues' best record into the Freeway Series. Getting no-hit by the Mariners on Friday was simply a blip on the radar as the Dodgers went 6-1 last week, including their first four-game sweep in Philadelphia since moving to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 1958.
"The rivalry part is kinda cool," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of the upcoming series against the Angels. "That's the part I like. I think you get a little extra energy when you play those guys. You get a mixture of our fans and their fans in both places. I wish we could have caught [the Angels] early. They struggled, but they've righted the ship."
Like Mattingly said, the Angels are also red-hot, having cut what was once a nine-game AL West deficit to just three behind Texas. The Angels swept their weekend series in Colorado while Texas took two of three from San Francisco in a rematch of the 2010 World Series contestants.
Up next for the Rangers is a three-game set against Arizona in a matchup of defending division champions.
Fresh off their sweep of the Mets, the surging Yankees are in Atlanta for three against the Braves beginning Monday. The Yankees have taken 13 of their past 17 games and sit just a half-game behind Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East.
"When our club puts together streaks, over the years, it's come from all different directions," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "It's different guys in the lineup. It's guys in the bullpen stepping up. You need that. Every team is going to go through their difficult times, injuries. Sometimes you've got to find a way to overcome some of them."
The Yankees play two series apiece against both the Braves and the Mets this season. As natural rivals, they play the Mets six times every year, but the six games against the Braves -- three in Atlanta beginning Monday, and three in the Bronx next week -- is a bit of a quirk in the schedule.
Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke will make his first start against his former team on Tuesday when the Royals host Milwaukee. Greinke, who won the 2009 AL Cy Young Award with the Royals, was traded to the Brewers before the 2011 season.
"It'd be nice to get [Greinke] back in Kansas City and beat up on him a little bit," Royals outfielder Mitch Maier said. "We know he's capable, but hopefully he makes some mistakes, and we take advantage of it."
In St. Louis, two first-year managers square off when the White Sox take on the Cardinals. Robin Ventura has surprised much of the baseball world with his first-place club, while Mike Matheny's St. Louis squad got off to a hot start but has since struggled while dealing with numerous injuries.
Two of the best stories in baseball will meet starting Tuesday when the Pirates visit Baltimore. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997, the longest such stretch in the American League, and the second-longest in the Majors behind only the Pirates, who haven't finished a season over .500 since 1992.
The clubs' strong starts may have their fans thinking back to 1971 and '79, when the Orioles and Pirates met in the World Series. Entering Monday, the Orioles sit eight games above .500, a game back of the Rays in the AL East, while the Pirates' 32-27 mark has them tied for the NL Central lead with the Reds.
The three-game set between the two surprise teams and a host of other compelling matchups are just more storylines in an Interleague slate full of them this week.
AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.