The first weekend of the second half is in the books and the MLB trade deadline is a little more than a week away, the next few days will be busy in baseball. Let’s dive into what you need to know about this weekend’s action.
Highlight of the weekend: The four most interesting runs the Blue Jays scored vs. Red Sox
Here’s a simple rule of thumb for this feature: if a player hits an inside-the-park grand slam, as Blue Jays outfielder Raimel Tapia did on Friday night against the Red Sox, then they get the highlight of the weekend honor, no questions asked.
Of course, it would be within reason to question what exactly Red Sox outfielder Jarren Duran was thinking throughout the sequence, which you can view below:
Duran lost Tapia’s routine fly ball in the sky. He turned around and saw the ball bounce off the wall, and rather than pursue it, he took a step or two and stood there while left fielder Alex Verdugo trekked over to make the recovery and return the ball to the infield. By then, Tapia (and three other Blue Jays) were able to scamper across the plate and extend their lead by the maximum allowed.
“Just lost it in the twilight,” Duran told the Boston Herald after the game. “I mean, Dugie was right there already. Obviously I should have taken a step or two but he was already going to beat me to the ball, so I just didn’t want to get in his way. What if I sprinted to it and collided with him or something like that? But, next time I know to take one or two steps, but he was already going to beat me to the ball.”
, by the way, scoring 28 runs en route to establishing new franchise records for themselves (runs scored) and the Red Sox (runs allowed). The Red Sox have lost five straight games by the combined score of 67-13. The minus-54 run differential is the worst by any team in any five-game span since at least 1901.
The Phillies rode into the All-Star Break on a high note, sweeping the Miami Marlins in three games. Unfortunately, they went the other way to begin the second half. On Sunday, the Phillies fell to the Chicago Cubs by a 4-3 margin (box score), completing a three-game sweep in the process.
Cubs catcher Yan Gomes swatted two home runs, giving him five for the year. Rookie outfielder Nelson Velázquez also launched his fifth home run of the season. Starter Drew Smyly, meanwhile, held the Phillies to two runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings. He punched out four batters.
Factoring in Friday and Saturday’s games, the Phillies were outscored 25-7 by the Cubs, or an average of six runs per game. That is, to quote former Phillies skipper Joe Girardi, not what you want.
The Phillies, 49-46 on the season, are a game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League’s third and final wild card spot.
Judge extends home run lead
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge had himself a whale of a weekend against the upstart Orioles. He went 8 for 13 with two doubles and three home runs in the three games. Judge drove in eight runs. Sunday’s homer was a 456-foot blast over the new left field wall at Camden Yards:
Sunday’s homer was also Judge’s 37th of the season. No other player has more than 30 homers. Judge has a chance to become the first player to enter August with 40 home runs since Barry Bonds and Luis Gonzalez did it in 2001. The Yankees have an off-day Monday, then will play six games (two vs. Mets and four vs. Royals before the calendar flips to Aug. 1.
Angels blow out Braves to end drought
The Los Angeles Angels routed the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, winning by a 9-1 final (box score). Along the way, the Angels broke an absurd stretch that had seen them not win a game started by a pitcher other than Shohei Ohtani since June.
Prior to Sunday’s game, which was started by Reid Detmers, the Angels had not been victorious with another pitcher on the mound since June 27. That contest was started by Noah Syndergaard.
Detmers did his part on Sunday, by the way, throwing five shutout innings. Offensively, the Angels were paced by catcher Max Stassi, among others, as he drove in three runs. Coincidentally, Ohtani went hitless on Sunday, though he did score a run.
Cardinals’ Arenado, Goldschmidt to miss Blue Jays series
The St. Louis Cardinals will head to Toronto for a brief two-game set against the Blue Jays this week. When they do, they’ll be without their All-Star corner infielders. Both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are unvaccinated, meaning they’ll be unable to make the trip to Canada. (Canada, like the United States, requires all travelers to be inoculated against COVID-19.).
Rodríguez remains sidelined
Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez missed a third consecutive game on Sunday because of a bruised left wrist. Rodríguez, who underwent an MRI that confirmed that diagnosis, originally hurt his wrist on a stolen-base attempt last Sunday. He did partake in both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, but has yet to play in the second half. It remains at least possible the Mariners place him on the injured list..
Nationals at Dodgers (three games beginning Monday): Normally we wouldn’t highlight a lopsided matchup like this one, but this is trade season and the rumors are flying about Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. It’s at least possible that this could be among his final stretch of games with Washington. It’s also possible that Soto will be playing against his next team. How’s that for intrigue?
Yankees at Mets (two games beginning Tuesday): We’ll get a mini-sized Subway Series this week, with the Yankees and Mets playing one another for the first time this season. This might be a World Series preview, based on how both teams have played this year. They’re scheduled to meet again in late August.
Twins at Brewers (two games beginning Tuesday): The two most overlooked division leaders in MLB will also enjoy a brief look at one another this week. They just met earlier in July, with each side picking up a win in another two-game set.
Mariners at Astros (four games beginning Thursday): The Mariners and Astros completed one series on Sunday, and they’ll see each other again next weekend for an expanded four-game set. The Mariners are no real threat to the Astros’ division lead at this point, but this could be a playoff preview all the same.