MLB Weekend: Mariners, Braves, Cardinals, Mike Trout & More

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend was a reminder of why Major League Baseball (MLB) is truly special. Sure, you’ve seen those ads with the statement “Baseball is dead? Nah!” and then they talk about pitchers hitting and four-man outfields (or something like that). This weekend, however, was just the type that the sport needed. It wrapped up a season that is special and in a way, it needed to be.

It wasn’t long ago that the lockout ended and there was a bitter taste in the players’ mouths as well as the fans. Yet this year has been all that fans could ask for and then some.

But let’s not think too much about the year and instead look back at this weekend. What made it awesome? What is important to take away from the weekend? Lastly, What should we be thinking about heading into the postseason?

Let’s start with a team that finally clinched their spot in the MLB postseason, after 21 years (the drought is old enough to drink).

Mariners Clinch Their Playoff Spot in Style

I’m not the best person to talk about the Seattle Mariners postseason berth. If you want to read more about it, I’d advise you to click here. I will say, this was a long time coming and a perfect bow to a storybook season.

The Mariners, throughout this season, looked good, not great but playoffs almost seemed far-fetched. This team always blew their chances so why was this year going to be any different? Yes, Robbie Ray emerged as a reliable ace while the rest of the rotation formed. Yes, Julio Rodriguez became the young dominant hitter, highlighted by his 27 home runs and .502 Slugging Percentage (SLG). Yet, this Mariners team always felt (in the eyes of the cynical fans) like they eventually were going to mess things up. This, by the way, was still the thought process after they acquired Luis Castillo, who has been phenomenal in the rotation as well.

Then came Friday night. Tied 1-1 in the ninth against the Oakland A’s, a team going nowhere (with the worst record in the American League), Cal Raleigh came up to the plate. With two outs, he loaded the count and waited for a pitch to hang in the low part of the strike zone. He got one and the rest is history.

It was a perfect way to send the Mariners to the postseason. Sure with their magic number being one, it might have been a matter of time but to remove all doubt, a weight has been lifted from the shoulders of this organization. Raleigh powering the ball to deep right field officially ended the 21-year drought and brings playoff baseball back to Seattle.

The Mariners might not be expected to win the American League Pennant, that would be the cherry on the top. However, this season was already good enough in some ways. The fans can almost look back and think about how good this team was, especially on the mound, and not just that they reached the playoffs but how they did. In an iconic walk-off way.

Braves Proved Why They’re the Team to Beat in MLB

The New York Mets pulled out all the stops this weekend for the series against the Atlanta Braves. They had Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt as their starting pitchers. They brought up their top prospect, Francisco Alvarez to add young juice to their line. This weekend, they were not going to lose this division lead (and subsequent second-best record in the National League) that they had since the start of the year.

They lost all three games, 5-2, 4-2, and 5-3. The Braves outscored the Mets 14-7 over the weekend.

Why? The Braves can hit. They have a lineup that can hit not just at the top of the order but throughout the lineup, allowing them to drive in runs in any inning. The Braves can hit for contact, they can hit for power, and more importantly, they can score in bunches, explaining their 4.89 runs per game, an MLB third-best mark.

The Mets have great pitching, arguably the best in baseball. The cliche goes that good pitching beats good hitting. The problem was that the Braves had reliable hitters in nearly every plate appearance. For great lineups, there’s only that much a good starter can prevent.

Yes, Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson did their fair share of damage, combining for six home runs and nine total hits in the series. However, this lineup has proven it can beat any team at any point and at any time.

While the Los Angeles Dodgers are regarded as the best team in the National League, the Braves reminded everyone why they are defending champs. Furthermore, this weekend they proved why the postseason still runs through them. There might not be Freddie Freeman but there’s Austin Riley, Michael Harris, and many more.

Cardinals Fly First Class

This season has also been one of a kind in St. Louis, which is saying a lot for a city that has lived and breathed baseball for centuries. Albert Pujols hit his 700th home run last week, entering an elite company and christening himself as one of the best hitters we will ever see. The Cardinals have won the National League Central Division and look like a juggernaut heading into October. Paul Goldschmidt looks like an MVP and oddly enough, so does Nolan Arenado.

The great season only continued this weekend. Pujols didn’t stop at 700 as he hit a homer on Friday night. Even better, on Sunday, Pujols hit his final home run in the regular season in his final plate appearance at Busch Stadium, a perfect way to walk out. Or so it seemed.

In the fifth inning with two outs, Adam Wainwright was ready to walk off the mound but in an iconic moment, he walked off with his long-time teammates. Yadier Molina and Pujols, two players associated with the Cardinal red, joined Wainwright to one final exit and one final curtain call.

The trio of players goes hand in hand with the Cardinals but more importantly, the modern history we can connect with the team. In fact, you have to be 42 or older to have a clear memory of the Cardinals in a World Series without these three players. They helped the team win two World Series titles and appear in two more. Up next for them (one stop ahead of Cooperstown) is one last postseason run.

Mike Trout Homered & Nobody Noticed

I was kind of surprised to find out that Mike Trout has the second-most home runs in the American League. You might be too if you are just finding out about this. Trout has 39 home runs on the season and has 15 since August 15. Trout hit another bomb over the weekend and it says a lot about this season and the team he plays on, the Los Angeles Angels.

Trout’s season of course has been a roller coaster, to put it lightly. A strong start was followed by him being sidelined for months. Then came the scary news where it was discovered he had an issue with his back that could possibly prevent him from playing again. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Trout slowly re-joined the Angels and even in a lost season, continued to prove why he is indeed a special player.

The Angels are once again missing the postseason. Trout and the great Shohei Ohtani will play another year in an invisible form (it seems) playing out west in Anaheim. The greatest players are having their careers going to waste, yet despite that, they remain brilliant. For Trout, the weekend might’ve been a final statement to earn MVP votes (even though, it’s a two-horse race).

Other MLB Notes from the Weekend

Aaron Judge didn’t homer. So, he’s still at 61. Will he get to 62? Only one way to find out.

The Astros clinched the best record in the American League. Sure their place in history is complicated but this year, they have proven that they are just a well-built team. As a result, the American League runs through Houston.

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