Weekend sweeps alter standings
There were several dramatic showdowns this past weekend, leading to a few shifts in the divisional standings. Most notably, the newly-reinforced San Diego Padres arrived in Los Angeles on Friday to challenge the NL West-leading Dodgers. The results were not pretty: the Dodgers won all three games, and in the closest game (on Sunday), the Padres were shut out, 4-0. Maybe it will take some time for Juan Soto and Josh Bell to acclimated to the desert southwest and play up to their usual standards. The Dodgers have won eight games in a row (having swept the Giants in a four-game series in San Francisco earlier in the week), and now have the highest record in the majors: 75-33.
In the borough of Queens in New York City, after losing the game on Friday the Mets dealt harshly with the second-place Atlanta Braves. The Braves' hot starting pitchers, especially Ian "Jethro Tull" Anderson and Max Fried, just could not rise to the occasion. In the second game on Saturday, Fried (covering first base) was shaken up up landing face down while lunging and trying to throw the ball home after shortstop Dansby Swanson threw it badly to first. The Mets scored two runs on that play. While not quite a sweep, the Mets ended up winning four games of that five-game series, and now have a 70-39 record -- the same as their cross-town rivals in the Bronx!
In the Gateway City, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in three games straight, [and have taken over first place in the NL Central Division from the Milwaukee Brewers]. The Yanks begin a three-game series in Seattle later tonight, after having lost two of three to the Mariners in New Yankee Stadium last week. It has been a full week since Aaron Judge's last home run (#43 for the year!), when the Yankees beat the Mariners. The Yankees (70-39) are still 9 1/2 games ahead of the Blue Jays, and there's not much chance that they will relinquish first place in the AL East, but you never know...
And, in the City of Brotherly Love, the Phillies swept the Nationals in a four-game series. The Phillies have won nine of their last ten games, and are now the #2 wild card team. In the first game, last Thursday, the Nats briefly had the lead (2-1) thanks in part to their new first baseman, Luke Voit; he hit an RBI single in the first inning. But the Phillies scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning. The Nats rallied in the top of the fifth, getting two runs before Yadiel Hernandez tried to tag up from third base on a short fly ball to right field, and was easily thrown out [to end the inning]. Just dumb baserunning. Almost immediately the game went into a rain delay, and after a futile wait of nearly two hours, the umpires called the game [after the bare minimum amount of play had taken place], so the Phillies won it, 5-4. That was as close as the Nats came to winning in that series. On Saturday Patrick Corbin gave up five runs in the first inning before being relieved -- almost exactly the same thing as happened on July 27 against the Dodgers. Ouch! On Sunday, the Nats' new pitcher Cory Abbott (who had done very well on the previous Tuesday) endured a five-run meltdown [in the fourth inning], and the Phillies never looked back. In the final three games the Nats lost by a combined score of 31 to 8, as Rhys Hoskins homered in all four games.
Tonight the Nationals begin a three-game series in Wrigley Field against the Cubs, with Anibal Sanchez (0-4) starting on the mound. This Thursday the Cubs will take up temporary "home" quarters in a certain ballpark located in Dyersville, Iowa...
Futile home runs
At home on Thursday, the Los Angeles Angels set some kind of record by hitting seven home runs but in each case nobody was on base, and they failed to score any other runs, and somehow managed to lose to the last-place Athletics, 8-7. Shohei Ohtani homered twice, and former National Kurt Suzuki was among the others who homered.
In preparation for this year's postseason, which includes three wild card teams in each league for the first time, I had to do some major reformatting of my postseason scores page, which will be updated soon. For the record, I detest adding more teams to the MLB postseason series. It detracts from the regular-season performance of the top-seeded teams, and it's all about squeezing more dollars out of ticket sales and TV broadcast rights. Very short-sighted, in my opinion.
Also for the record, I updated the Diagram update log for the first time this year. It only includes stadiums in which MLB games have been played, whereas the Stadium lists page is more "diverse and inclusive."