September 20, 2021

1. The Padres are in shambles, with their season all but over

An all-out collapse for over a month. Getting swept in St. Louis this weekend, by the very team that just passed them in the Wild Card chase.

And that promising, upstart, must-watch team of teams has seen their dream 2021 season crash in a great big, ugly, most-surprising conflagration.

They’re 3.5 games back of the second N.L. Wild Card spot now, and it might be time (as it was with the Mets, last week), to stick a fork in ‘em:

2. And meanwhile, the Cardinals have surged into an almost-certain playoff spot

Year after year after year. They’re there. They’re in contention. They’re playing in October. And yet again, right when they needed to, an eight-game win streak.

Some highlights from the weekend sweep of the Padres:

3. The slide of the year: Pablo Reyes

A brilliant, Phelpsian swim move at the plate, as the Brewers clinch a playoff spot over the weekend, and inch closer to the N.L. Central title.

4. Gerrit Cole gets booed at Yankee Stadium

The Red Sox and Blue Jays are soaring. The Wild Card spot is slipping away for the Yankees. In an almost must-win game, the Yankees ace gives up seven earned runs — and it was not ending pretty.

Here was John Sterling reacting to the moment, on the radio broadcast:

To make matters worse, in the middle of the start there was (literally) that looking over your shoulder feeling, with the giant scoreboard looming overhead, and not looking promising:

5. An update to the A.L. Wild Card standings

The division races are all essentially decided, and so the remaining drama lies in the Wild Card, with a three-team, maybe four-team slew of contenders:

Great weekends for every team but the Yankees, with the A’s just barely clinging onto an outside chance of snagging that second spot.

6. Mookie Betts had the feel-good moment of the weekend

Reds rookie TJ Friedl had his first-career hit (a home run), Mookie Betts realized it, and retrieved the ball — with a signed gift bat in return as a courtesy:

7. The Blue Jays now have two players at 40 home runs

Vladdy Guerrero Jr. leads MLB with 46 now, in the home stretch of what might be a triple crown season:

And right next door in the infield, Marcus Semien — hit home run #40, and just the fifth second baseman all-time to get there.

8. The catch of the weekend: Lorenzo Cain

When you open an outfield door from crashing into the wall and still hang onto the ball, you know you’ve done well.

9. Rays star prospect Shane Baz debuts tonight

The A.L. East seems to be wrapped up (6.5-game lead for the Rays), but a series with the red-hot Blue Jays starts tonight, and bigger collapses have happened before.

And so, the Rays aren’t taking any chances. Send in the rookie for his major-league debut:

10. Also in Rays-world, cult hero Brett Phillips added to his legend with a walk-off HR on Friday night

A comeback ninth inning for the Rays, and then this in the tenth — as baseball’s favorite airplane pilot reprises his beloved role:

11. Base-running moment of the weekend: Bryce Harper

If life gives you stop signs, run through them?

12. Max Scherzer might now be the favorite for the N.L. Cy Young

Not often that a deadline acquisition ends up being the best pitcher in baseball, when the entire year is said and done.

And he’s not giving up at the plate, either:

13. The awful stat of the day: Austin Adams

This sounds like it can’t be true, but it is.

14. And lastly, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo plays the drums in the dugout

So that’s their secret, then — revealed at last.

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