The 2022 Major League Baseball season is now past the middle of June, about a month away from the All-Star break and starting to approach the halfway point. As noted last week, it’s just the good ol’ grind.
What did this weekend bring us? Let’s take a look.
Highlight of the weekend
On Friday, Francisco Lindor’s mom came to watch her son play in person for the first time since she suffered an aneurysm that led to a stroke in 2020. There had since been concern she’d never be able to travel again, but she was finally cleared to travel and made it with the help of Francisco’s wife, Katia.
“My wife was very emotional, telling me that I was going to get one of the greatest Father’s Day gifts. To me, I was like, ‘All right. Something is happening,'” Lindor said, via mlb.com.
“My mother surprised me and my entire family. It fills my heart. I play the game for my mom and my entire family. To have her here at this moment, it’s a win for me. It’s a win for the entire family.”
Lindor’s first at-bat, well, take a look:
He’s always excitable and wearing his heart on his sleeve and all, but you could certainly see a little extra juice rounding first base and then after he crosses home plate there. Beautiful.
He would homer again on Saturday and he drove home seven runs in the three-game series.
Yankees lose on Sunday, but keep crushing competition
The Yankees were fresh off a sweep of the Rays when they had to hit the road for what was supposed to be another big series against the Blue Jays. They took the first two games of the series and then had an 8-3 lead Sunday before the Blue Jays stormed back with a huge 10-9 comeback victory. The big blows were a grand slam from Lourdes Gurriel and a go-ahead, three-run home run from Teoscar Hernández.
The Yankees did threaten in the ninth, but Toronto closer Jordan Romano was able to lock down the save and ensure the Blue Jays salvaged the series finale.
Still, it was a wildly successful week for the Yankees. They swept the Rays at home and then took two of three in Toronto. The top four in the AL East now:
YankeesBlue Jays, 11 games backRays, 13 GBRed Sox, 13.5 GB
The Yankees’ next win, by the way, will be their 50th of the season. They’ll get the chance to reach that milestone on Monday, as they begin a three-game set in St. Petersburg against the Rays.
Trout continues to scorch Mariners
The Angels wrapped up a five-game series against the Mariners on Sunday, winning by a 4-0 margin. Trout, as he is wont to do, continued a recent surge by hitting his fifth home run of the set.
Trout entered Sunday having notched five hits (four of them home runs) in his first 16 at-bats this series. He’d also accepted a pair of walks, giving him a .313/.389/1.063 slash line over those four contests. On Sunday, he delivered a two-run home run, his 21st of the season, in the fourth inning to put the Angels up 2-0:
Trout now has 33 career home runs at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, putting him 16th on the ballpark’s all-time leaderboard. He’ll tie Franklin Gutierrez for 15th when he delivers his 35th. The Angels are scheduled to make a four-game trip to Seattle in early August, suggesting Trout might do the deed then.
The Angels, behind Trout’s hot hitting, took four of five from the Mariners.
Padres lose Machado; suffer sweep vs. Rockies
The Padres had a rough Sunday in more than one way. In addition to seeing third baseman and MVP candidate Manny Machado exit with an ankle injury, the Padres dropped an 8-3 contest to the Rockies, completing a weekend sweep.
The fifth inning proved to be the bugaboo for the Padres, as starter Blake Snell and reliever Steven Wilson combined to surrender five runs. That total included a three-run home run against Randal Grichuk that put the Rockies up 6-1.
The Padres would eventually fall behind 8-1 before an eighth-inning home run by Austin Nola cut the deficit to five.
The Padres will now head home having been outscored by a 23-11 margin. It’s worth noting that a Padres win combined with a Dodgers loss would’ve seen San Diego enter the new week in sole possession of first place. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be.
Heading into the weekend’s series, nearly all of the focus in the NL East was on the defending champs. Hey, they are the champs. There’s going to be inherent bias toward them if they get hot. That’s just how it works. “Watch out!” we’ll all cry. And, hoo boy were they hot. They had won 14 straight games with a +60 run differential in that stretch. Yes, they were beating up on inferior teams, but that’s what great teams do and, generally, the goal is to win 2/3 or even 3/4 of the time against bad teams. But they won 100 percent of those 14 games.
Meanwhile, the Cubs had just lost 10 straight and were getting pretty well crushed in their own right during that stretch. Surely a Braves’ visit to Wrigley was going to continue the streak.
Only the Cubs took Friday’s opener, 1-0. Then they won on Saturday, too. The Braves were able to win Sunday, but they still lost a series to an awful team that was playing arguably its worst baseball of the year.
The Mets had seen their 10 1/2 game lead dip to four, but while the Braves were dropping the first two games of their series, the Mets won two against the Marlins. Things turned Sunday, as they lost, but they still won their series while the Braves dropped theirs.
The Mets’ lead is now 5 1/2 games. It’s been trimmed nearly in half, but they are still very much in control.
Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget about the Phillies. They lost on Sunday, but won the first four of a five-game series against the hapless Nats. They are now 15-3 in the month of June and while first place is a ways off, they are once again a player in the NL wild card mix. In fact, they are likely where the line of NL contenders ends, as next in line would be the Diamondbacks and Marlins.
Pirates avoid sweep behind Suwinski
The Giants — who came into the series riding a hot streak — took the first two games in Pittsburgh and then jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning Sunday. That is to say, it had the makings of a “taking care of business” sweep from a good team against a non-contender. Pirates starter Mitch Keller would settle in, though, and the Giants wouldn’t score again until they were tying the game in the ninth. The Pirates — well, more specifically rookie sensation Jack Suwinski — were not to be denied, however. Suwinski belted our three homers including one of the walk-off variety.
Suwinski now has 11 home runs in 148 career at-bats. He’s only hitting .230 with a .296 on-base percentage, but the threat of the home run is there every time he steps up to the plate and that was illustrated with Sunday’s clutch performance.
Giants at Braves (four games beginning Monday): Both teams are in playoff position, though it’s close with the Brewers and Phillies not far off. As we move closer to July, jockeying for positions in contention is really fun and a four-gamer between two of them raises the stakes.
Mets at Astros (two games beginning Tuesday): Potential World Series preview? Sure, it’s possible, so that makes it notable. They’ve been two of the elite teams in baseball all year, so the expectation would be that we’ll see great baseball.
Astros at Yankees (four games beginning Thursday): We’ll have more to come on this as it gets closer, but this is a true battle of the titans. These are the obvious two best teams in the American League and it feels like they could give us an epic seven-game ALCS. Remember, the Astros knocked the Yankees out in the ALCS in both 2017 and 2019.
Red Sox at Guardians (three games beginning Friday): It’s probably too early to start watching the wild-card spots, at least it would be if we were looking strenuously. Still, these two teams are in the middle of a fight for the final spot, so the head-to-head action could end up meaning something come late September.
Dodgers at Braves (three games beginning Friday): An NLCS rematch against two potential (likely?) playoff teams? Yes, please. We don’t need any extra juice on that, but we’ll take it as it’ll be the first time Freddie Freeman plays in Atlanta for an opposing team. We’ll hold out hope there won’t be boos, but the smart money is on hearing at least a few.
Phillies at Padres (four games starting Thursday): A possible playoff preview, but it’s probably more important here to view this as a test for the Phillies. They are fighting to move into playoff position and a four-game series across the country in Petco against this pitching staff is a tall order. They’ve done well in a similar situation, though. Last trip out west, they took three of four in Dodger Stadium.