Another weekend of Major League Baseball is in the books. We're coming together on most Sundays 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 Nelson Cruz, an elusive record-setting no-hitter and a body of water.
Loser: Record-setting no-hitter
We nearly saw a record-setting no-hitter on Saturday night. We nearly saw a record-setting no-hitter later on Saturday night. We nearly saw a record-setting no-hitter on Sunday afternoon. But in the Year of the No-Hitter, three separate no-no bids were broken up in the eighth inning or later. MLB remains stuck on seven no-hitters this season, a record shared with four other modern-day seasons.
During Saturday night's Angels-Twins, southpaw Patrick Sandoval was dominating on the mound. For the Angels, Sandoval took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. It would have set a new MLB record of eight no-hitters in one season.
Sandoval, 24, struck out a career-high 13 batters in his outing at Target Field. Sandoval took the no-no into the ninth inning but gave up a one-out double to outfielder Brent Rooker and was removed after 8 2/3 innings.
Around the same time in Houston, Astros lefty Framber Valdéz held the Texas Rangers without a hit through the first six innings before departing. The Astros lost their combined no-no effort in the eighth inning as the Rangers avoided being no-hit for the third time this season.
Then, on Sunday, Yankees right-hander Domingo Germán held the Red Sox hitless through seven innings at Fenway Park. Germán surrendered a double to Alex Verdugo to start the eighth inning, and then the Yankees, like they have so many other times in 2021, surrendered the lead.
Winner: Cruz makes good first impression
Ahead of MLB's July 30 trade deadline, the struggling Minnesota Twins sent veteran slugger Nelson cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays in a four-player deal. The 41-year-old Cruz kicked off his tenure with the Rays in pretty good fashion when he launched a 93.4-mph fastball from Zach Plesac over the right field fence at Progressive Field against Cleveland on Friday night. The home run was his 20th of the season.
Cruz isn't showing any signs of slowing down despite his age. In fact, at 41 years and 22 days old, he became the second-oldest Tampa Bay Rays player to hit a home run. Only Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, at 41 years and 53 days, was older when he homered against Cleveland on Aug. 7, 1999 for his 3,000th career hit.
Cruz is likely to continue serving as Tampa Bay's main designated hitter, and it'll be a welcome upgrade for the reigning AL champs. Prior to Cruz's arrival on Friday, Rays DHs were hitting a .219/.307/.387 on the season. Cruz owns a .289/.365/.534 slash line on the season with 20 home runs and 51 RBI.
"I will do my best to be myself," Cruz told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson after Friday's win. "Every moment that I have here will be great for me. It was something that I was looking for. To have the chance to be with this type of team with these types of players, coaching staff -- a great group of guys. They showed they have what it takes to go to the World Series. I'm excited to go out there and win it all."
Loser: Twins fans
You might be able to tell that the Twins and their fans are losers by the first two items in this piece. But, in addition to nearly being no-hit on Saturday and trading away their All-Star slugger on Thursday, the Twins reportedly received word on Sunday that center fielder Byron Buxton is not interested in the team's offer for a contract extension. This likely means Buxton -- who has been among the game's top players when healthy this season and is a free agent after the 2022 season -- will be traded in the next eight months.
Twins fans also were not happy on Sunday when, in the late innings of an eventual 6-2 loss, the team decided to intentionally walk Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani hit his major-league-leading 35th homer of the year on Sunday before the IBB.
Winner: McCovey Cove kayaker; Loser: McCovey Cove kayaker
On Friday night, during the San Francisco Giants' 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, two fans in McCovey Cove engaged in an intense chase down in kayaks going after a floating baseball. It was the ball former Giants prospect Bryan Reynolds (drafted by San Fran in 2016, traded in 2018 for Andrew McCutchen) launched into the water on a two-run shot to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Reynolds, for his part, was voted an All-Star this year and Friday's homer was his 18th on the season.
As you could probably deduce, the poor guy in the green kayak is the loser here. Not only did he miss out on the home run ball but he also got himself soaked in the process. We'll still give him an A for effort though.