Yankees and Rangers live parallel existences featuring big homers and bigger celebrations
If you haven't checked the American League standings recently, you might want to take a look at the Yankees and the Rangers, who are pushing to contend atop their respective divisions.
Heading into Monday night's action, both teams found themselves in second place chasing teams that made a flurry of moves at the Trade Deadline in hopes of ending longtime postseason droughts. And both had full control over their destinies in the standings, as the Rangers played the Astros -- the team they're chasing in the AL West -- and the Yankees played while the Blue Jays enjoyed a day off atop the AL East (which they used to take in a Monday Night Football game).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Yanks and Rangers mirrored each other in almost every way on Monday.
Both started pitchers who went 0-1 in the 2009 World Series.
It might feel like another generation, but it was just six years ago that Hamels and the Phillies faced off against CC Sabathia and the Yankees in the '09 Fall Classic. Sabathia took the loss in Game 1 as the Phils hopped out to an early series lead.
Hamels earned the loss in Game 3 as the Yankees took a 2-1 series lead en route to winning in six games.
Both teams fell behind early.
Heading into the ninth, the Yankees trailed the Rays, 1-0. Against the Astros, the Rangers trailed, 1-0, before they even took a turn at bat and trailed, 2-1, heading into the sixth.
And then ... both teams broke late-game ties with home runs that define the word "clutch."
In the top of their ninth inning, the Yankees orchestrated a two-out rally to tie the game, 1-1, when Brett Gardner drew a walk and Alex Rodriguez clocked an RBI double. The Rays intentionally walked Brian McCann to get to prospect Slade Heathcott (no, we'll never get tired of typing his name). Heathcott made them pay with his second career home run, lifting the Yankees to a 4-1 win.
In the bottom of their eighth inning, the Rangers and Astros were tied, 3-3, when Prince Fielder stepped up with one out and a runner on. He proceeded to knock a ball over the center-field wall to power the Rangers to a 5-3 win.
Both teams celebrated like they're in a pennant race.
A-Rod was more than happy after his RBI double, but the real emotion came after Heathcott's winning dinger:
And the Rangers, well ...
Do not try to tell these teams that wins in April count the same as wins in October.
Both teams moved up in the standings.
The Rangers gained a full game on the Astros, moving up to just a half-game back. With the Blue Jays watching football, the Yankees shaved half a game off their deficit, moving to just three games back.
Both teams have 19 games left on their schedules.
Basically, the Rangers and Yankees are two different teams with different players competing in different divisions, but living in parallel realities that are equally entertaining and nerve-wracking. It's going to be one exciting month.
Happy pennant race, everybody.