Another weekend of Major League Baseball is in the books. We're coming together every Sunday to award winners and losers after each weekend of MLB action this season. Here are the big winners and losers from the last few days, including Francisco Lindor's blistering weekend at the plate, Shohei Ohtani's big announcement and the woeful Arizona Diamondbacks.
Loser: Baseballs pitched to Kyle Schwarber
It was tough to have a better weekend than Nationals slugger Kyle Schwarber. It might be impossible to have a better 13-inning stretch.
Schwarber led off the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets on Saturday with a solo home run. He hit another in the fourth inning of Washington's victory, and then cranked out three more dingers in another win in Sunday's series finale.
The weekend power surge gives Schwarber 18 homers on the season, and he now has nine in his last 10 games. The red-hot Nationals are 8-2 in that span and they also welcomed back a fan favorite on Sunday.
Winner: Lindor's long-awaited breakout
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor has begun to emerge from his early season slump. During this weekend's series against the Washington Nationals, Lindor had his offensive breakout in a big way. On Saturday, he recorded his first multi-home run effort with the Mets with a pair of two-run jobs. He took Nats starter Joe Ross deep with a runner on in the first and fifth innings in Game 1 of a doubleheader.
Lindor had five RBI and scored twice in the Mets' 5-1 win. The five RBI were his most since his career-high seven for Cleveland on July 2, 2018.
Entering Saturday, Lindor had been in a 1 for 17 slump. "God works in mysterious ways," Lindor said after Saturday's big game. "I don't know why today. I don't ask questions."
Things went from bad to worse for the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. On Thursday, the D-Backs set a mark in historic MLB futility with their 23rd consecutive road loss. Arizona now owns the longest road-game losing streak in MLB history. Not exactly the record you want to be recognized for.
The good news was that the club was returning back to Chase Field, so there wouldn't be more talk about the road losses. The bad news: the Diamondbacks had another record to worry about -- a looming franchise record for longest losing streak in team history -- and they would be facing the powerhouse Dodgers.
Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, they now have own a 17-game losing streak after being swept by the Dodgers. They set the record for the longest losing streak in team history at 15 games on Friday
In the series opener on Friday, the Diamondbacks were shut out by Trevor Bauer. Then on Saturday, Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler took a no-hitter into eighth inning. More bad news piled on the club when it was revealed that catcher Carson Kelly fractured his right wrist after he was hit by pitch in the second inning of Saturday night's game. Kelly's offensive performance so far this season (.260/.385/.460 Kelly's slash line vs. team's slash line of .229/.302/.373) was one of the few bright spots for the D-Backs. When it rains, it pours.
Winner: Home Run Derby fans
We got a big Friday announcement from Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani. The 26-year-old will be competing in this year's Home Run Derby at Coors Field in Colorado. It's the first official player confirmation so far, and we can only hope that there's more big names to come (reigning champion Pete Alonso, plus Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Yordan Alvarez).
Ohtani in the Home Run Derby is a huge win for baseball and its fans. To be honest, everyone's a winner when Ohtani is playing this good. When healthy, Ohtani has shown us that the hype was real and worthwhile. He's one of the most electric players in baseball right now, and he also has the potential to become the face of baseball. The spectacle of a two-way player this good is something the sport hasn't seen since Babe Ruth.
"Obviously there's going to be a bunch of power hitters so I want to test myself with those guys," Ohtani told Bally Sport West through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, this weekend. "I'm really excited for that."
Judging by his four home runs this weekend -- two on Friday and one each on Saturday and Sunday -- it looks like he's ready.
He's hit five homers and driven in seven in his last five games. On the season, Ohtani is hitting .272/.356/.643 with 22 homers (tied for second-most in MLB), 52 RBI, 47 runs scored and 10 stolen bases through 267 plate appearances.
Mark your calendar for Monday, July 12.
Winner: Sánchez's elusiveness
Last month, Javier Báez made the Pirates look foolish with the most ridiculous base-running play of the season. But it kinda made sense. Báez is an on-field magician. The 2021 Pirates are, well, the 2021 Pirates.
So it was maybe even more surprising to see a catcher make one of baseball's best fielders miss a routine tag on Sunday.
Gary Sánchez cranked a go-ahead, two-run double against the A's in the sixth inning on Sunday. After the two runs crossed the plate in an eventual 2-1 Yankees win, Sánchez tried to take third base on a throw. He appeared to be an easy out as Oakland third baseman and two-time Gold Glove winner (and previous Platinum Glove winner) Matt Chapman received the throw well ahead of Sánchez's arrival.
Chapman lost his balance, but still thought he could tag out Sánchez from the seat of his pants. It didn't happen, as the Yankees catcher expertly ambled around the tag.
Sánchez, who is making a case to be the AL's starting catcher at this year's All-Star Game, also homered in Saturday's win as the Yankees took two of three from the first-place A's.
Sunday's win ended on another notable play: the Yankees turned a walk-off triple play, their third triple play in 31 days.
Loser: Marlins rookies
Getting a cup of coffee can be a great thing for a young professional baseballer -- just not quite like this. The Marlins sent their rookies out on a coffee run this weekend in Chicago in full uniform across from Wrigley Field.
Yes, they also grabbed some donuts for the clubhouse.
Winner: Seattle Steelheads Negro Leagues uniform
The Seattle Mariners honored the Negro Leagues as part of the club's Juneteenth celebration this weekend. As part of the festivities, Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, threw out the ceremonial first pitch:
Awesome to be @TMobilePark in Seattle & put on the Seattle Steelheads jersey for the @Mariners Salute to the Negro Leagues on Juneteenth. There’s a special vibe & spirit in the ballpark this evening! @MLB @MLBNetworkRadio @MLB_PLAYERS @Royals @VisitKC @VisitMO @KCMO @NLBMuseumKC pic.twitter.com/KGHz9RJK2J— Bob Kendrick (@nlbmprez) June 20, 2021
And, the Mariners players donned the uniforms of the 1946 Seattle Steelheads, Seattle's short-lived Negro Leagues team that played for one season in 1946 at Sick's Stadium:
Aside from the fact that these unis are aesthetically pleasing, they are honoring the contributions of all Negro Leagues players.
"It's an honor to wear them and to honor those that paved the way for us," Shed Long told the Seattle Times.
The National and American leagues were segregated until 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. Even after though, Black baseball players and their accomplishments were overlooked. Last year, Major League Baseball officially elevated the Negro Leagues to "Major League" status.
Commissioner Rob Manfred described the maneuver as "correcting a longtime oversight in the game's history." Heading forward, MLB will recognize the "statistics and records" of approximately 3,400 players who partook in the seven leagues between 1920-48.
Five years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Bob Boyd (L) and Artie Wilson (R) signed with the Seattle Rainiers to become the first Black baseball players to integrate the Pacific Coast League. pic.twitter.com/h4JyGhxPUa— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 19, 2021
"Those people have paved the way for me along with other guys in baseball," Taylor Trammell told the Seattle Times.
Best part about the night? The Seattle Steelheads are 1-0 at T-Mobile Park.
"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for those guys who passed down before us, and if they didn't take all that criticism and hate, we wouldn't be here," Crawford told MLB.com after the game. "We've got to salute them all the time, and not just one day, I think. We've got to do something way more every week to represent and really know where we come from."
What's Crawford going to do with his Steelheads jersey? "I'm taking that home and framing that."