Saturday, October 1, 2022

MLB weekend recap: Cardinals move into first place with sweep of Yankees; Dodgers make statement vs. Padres

The MLB trade deadline is in the rearview mirror and the dog days of summer have arrived. A little more than eight weeks remain in the 2022 regular season and the postseason races are really beginning to heat up. Let’s dive into what you need to know about this weekend’s action.

Highlight of the Weekend: Vin Scully tribute

The world lost a titan of the sports broadcasting industry earlier this week. The great Vin Scully passed away at 94. Scully called Dodgers games for 67 years, beginning when the team was still in Brooklyn, before retiring in 2016. On Friday, the Dodgers played their first home game since Scully’s death, and the pregame tribute ceremony was touching and emotional.

Scully is believed to have called over 9,000 games in his career, including 18 no-hitters and three perfect games. Here are 10 of his most memorable calls

Cardinals sweep Yankees, move into first place

The NL Central race has been flipped since the trade deadline. On the morning of deadline day the Brewers held a two-game lead over the Cardinals. St. Louis has not lost since, going a perfect 6-0 since then, including sweeping the Yankees at home this weekend. Nolan Arenado had a big hit in Sunday’s 12-9 win with a three-run homer against new Yankee Frankie Montas. The series marked the first time the Yankees were swept in a three-game (or four-game) series this year.

The Brewers, meanwhile, are 1-5 since the trade deadline. They were swept in Pittsburgh earlier this week and blew a late lead in all three games after trading away Josh Hader. They then dropped two of three at home to the Reds this weekend. Devin Williams, the new closer post-Hader, coughed up two runs in the tenth inning and took the loss Sunday.

In less than a week the Cardinals went from two games behind the Brewers to two games up on the Brewers. The two clubs still have seven head-to-head games remaining, including three next weekend in St. Louis, but the tenor of this division has changed greatly in a short period of time.

Mets take four of five from Braves

There’s no such thing as momentum when looking at baseball standings. The latest example would be how the NL East has gone this season. Heading into June, the Mets had already amassed a 10 1/2 game lead. The Braves started that month by winning 14 straight games. The lead was down to 3 1/2 games by the end of June. Thanks to the Braves starting the month of July 14-5, the Mets’ lead had been whittled all the way down to just a 1/2 game through July 23. 

The Mets then caught fire. 

Still, the Mets’ lead was 3 1/2 games heading into Thursday, when a five-game series between the two NL East powers started. 

The Mets went out and won four of five, pushing their lead back to 6 1/2 games, a level the lead hadn’t been since June 18. 

The race still isn’t over. There remain seven head-to-head matchups between the two teams and we’ve seen how quickly things can change over the course of just a few weeks, but the Mets have to be feeling pretty confident right now, especially with how Jacob deGrom looked on Sunday (full story here). 

Dodgers still own the Padres

It wasn’t even a week ago when the Padres were, rightfully, showered with praise over their trade deadline activity. Maybe the Dodgers were annoyed about it. Maybe not. They are probably just that much better, and they showed as much during a three-game sweep of the Padres. The Dodgers are now 8-2 against the Padres this season, having outscored them 55-18. Full story here

Phillies bludgeon Nationals again

I’m not sure the Nationals will get to 45 wins this season. Following Sunday’s loss they are 36-74, and they just traded away their two best hitters. The Phillies outscored them 45-12 in this weekend’s four-game sweep and out-homered them 14-1, and one game was shortened to five innings by rain. Rhys Hoskins went deep in all four games.

The Phillies record is homers in five straight games done several times: Odúbel Herrera (2018), Hoskins (2017), Chase Utley (twice in 2008), Bobby Abreu (2005), Mike Schmidt (1979), and Dick Allen (1969). Philadelphia has an off-day Monday, then Hoskins will look to go deep in his fifth straight game Tuesday against Marlins lefty Braxton Garrett.

On deck

Field of Dreams Game: MLB returns to Iowa this coming Thursday with the second (annual?) Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville. This year’s Field of Dreams Game won’t feature much pennant race drama — it’s the Cubs vs. Reds — though baseball in different places is always fun, and if last year’s game was any indication, we’re in for some fireworks. The Yankees and White Sox combined for eight home runs in last year’s Field of Dreams Game, including multiple lead changes in the ninth inning.

Brewers at Cardinals (three games): The Cardinals are red hot, the Brewers are ice cold, and St. Louis entered play Sunday in sole possession of first place for the first time since June 22. Needless to say, these three games at Busch Stadium will be monumentally important in the NL Central race, especially given what comes afterward. Following the series in St. Louis, the Brewers will play seven of their next 10 games against the Dodgers. The Cardinals will play their next 11 games against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Cubs. A crucial few weeks in the NL Central are on the horizon.

Orioles at Rays (three games): The upstart Orioles find themselves only two games behind the Rays for the third and final American League wild card spot. The two AL East rivals will play three games in Tropicana Field next weekend, so it’s entirely possible Baltimore will be in postseason position by time you read next week’s weekend recap. The season series is 8-8 with the Rays having the 5-1 edge at home. This is the final regular season series between these two clubs and keep in mind there are no more Game 163 tiebreakers. All ties are broken mathematically now, even ties in which one team will make the postseason and the other will not. The winner of next weekend’s series will hold the tiebreaker should the two clubs finish with the identical record. 

Yankees at Red Sox (three games): Professional baseball writer bylaws require me to mention the Yankees and Red Sox renew The Rivalry™ next weekend at Fenway Park even though it’ll (likely) be a first-place team against a last-place team, and we’re all oversaturated with Yankees-Red Sox. Sarcasm aside, the Yankees and Red Sox do tend to play eventful games no matter where each teams sits in the standings. If you’re a fan of chaosball, this is the series for you.

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