March 26, 2023

The third weekend of August is now freshly behind us, which implies stretch-drive motion in Main League Baseball. Now let’s get caught up on this weekend’s motion. 

Spotlight of the weekend: Arenado’s newest miracle

The Cardinals‘ Nolan Arenado stays one of many high defenders at any place, and in Saturday’s blowout win over the Diamondbacks he reminded us of his standing. Within the sixth inning, Arizona’s Alek Thomas hit a excessive chopper up the center, and Arenado charging in from third bare-handed it and pulled this off: 

Thomas has glorious velocity, so the margin for error was approaching nil. Additionally, let’s notice that with out Paul Goldschmidt’s deft scoop we wouldn’t be speaking about this play. 

As for Arenado, the nine-time Gold Glove winner is now 31 years of age, however the eye take a look at and the very best superior metrics counsel he’s nonetheless greatest at school in the case of fielding on the scorching nook. This play on Saturday night time served as an acute reminder of that reality. 

The New York Yankees prevented what would’ve been a crushing four-game sweep by the hands of the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays with a 4-2 win at house on Sunday. The Yankees held a 2-1 lead till the seventh, thanks largely to the sturdy pitching of starter Nestor Cortes, however the Jays had been in a position to push throughout the tying run versus the bullpen. Within the house half, nevertheless, deadline acquisition Andrew Benintendi went upper-tank for a two-run, go-ahead homer: 

That well-timed blast was not solely Benintendi’s first house run as a Yankee, nevertheless it was additionally his first in 50 video games (!). Fellow deadline addition Lou Trivino pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to finish the sport and decide up the win for New York.

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Perhaps trying again, Saturday will mark the low level for a workforce that was as soon as on tempo to set the all-time document for wins in a season. Following yet one more listless offensive efficiency by the Yankees – in a 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays – supervisor Aaron Boone voiced his mounting frustrations: 

That loss dropped the Yankees to an MLB-worst 4-14 in August, and on the time it meant they had been 9-20 because the break after going 64-28 within the first half. That end result additionally meant that the Yankees had misplaced six consecutive collection for the primary time since 1995. Extra to the purpose, what had been a 15 ½-game lead within the American League East on July 8 had been whittled right down to a seven-game lead. 

As for the Yanks’ struggles on offense, there’s this Saturday nugget: 

The win on Sunday improves all these indicators, however the Yankees are nonetheless looking for a sustained run through which they seem like the workforce that barged to such a formidable begin earlier within the season. Maybe sadly for the Yankees, the crosstown Mets are up subsequent on the schedule, they usually’ll have Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom lined as much as begin. 

Pujols continues assault on 700

Coming into 2022, veteran cloutsman Albert Pujols appeared to have little likelihood of creating it to 700 profession house runs earlier than his deliberate retirement after this season. He was 42, caught in a normal sample of deep decline, and dealing with an unsure and sure very restricted position in St. Louis. He was additionally 21 house runs shy of the mark that simply three gamers have reached – a considerably lofty whole contemplating the entire previous. 

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As we work our approach towards September, nevertheless, Pujols has pressured the difficulty in outstanding style. His newest little bit of odds and age defiance got here on Saturday in opposition to the Diamondbacks, when he hit his twelfth and 13 house runs of the season and the 691st and 692nd of his profession. Right here’s No. 692: 

Pujols goes to be within the lineup any time a lefty begins for the opposition, and he’s going to be Oli Marmol’s pinch-hitter of first resort when he’s not within the lineup and a lefty reliever enters the sport. He’ll additionally sometimes get seems in opposition to right-handed pitching. In different phrases, he’ll get some alternatives. As properly, this isn’t idle compiling by Pujols – he’s been a extremely productive hitter up to now in 2022, and his sturdy batted-ball metrics counsel he can proceed being simply that. There’s an actual likelihood he will get there. 

And if he doesn’t? Don’t guess on his coming again in 2023 for a run on the benchmark of notice. “I’m nonetheless going to retire, regardless of whether or not I find yourself hitting 693, 696, 700, no matter,” Pujols advised Bob Nightengale on Saturday. “I don’t get caught up in numbers. For those who had been going to inform me 22 years in the past that I’d be this shut, I’d have advised you that you simply’re freakin’ loopy. My profession has been wonderful.”

Eight to go. With right-hander Merrill Kelly on the mound for Arizona within the collection finale, Pujols was not in Marmol’s beginning lineup on Sunday. 

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Dustin Could sparkles in 2022 debut

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dustin Could made his return from Tommy John surgical procedure on Saturday in opposition to the Miami Marlins. He didn’t disappoint: 

The Jazz Chisholm-less Marlins are one of many worst offenses in baseball, however Could’s outcomes are nonetheless extremely spectacular contemplating it was his first big-league begin in 476 days. Whereas command is commonly the very last thing to return to a pitcher coming off Tommy John, the 24-year-old Could confirmed little or no rust, particularly after the opening body. Could wound up hanging out half of the 18 batters he confronted and retired 13 in a row to finish his night. He additionally touched 99 mph with each his four-seamer and sinker and little doubt may’ve labored deeper had he not run up in opposition to the 75-pitch restrict imposed for his first begin again. 

Whereas the Dodgers are far and away the very best workforce in baseball proper now, the rotation wants what Could may give it. The membership not too long ago discovered that ace Walker Buehler will miss the remainder of the season, and franchise legend Clayton Kershaw continues to be working his approach again from a again damage.