5 things to know from the weekend in MLB: With Juan Soto and Aaron Judge crushing at the plate, are the Yankees to be feared again?

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5 things to know from the weekend in MLB: With Juan Soto and Aaron Judge crushing at the plate, are the Yankees to be feared again?

A lot of baseball happens in a weekend. This time around saw the Yankees’ superstars crushed it in the Bay, the Brewers tightened their grip in the NL Central, the White Sox had fighting words off the field (but not much of it on the diamond) and the Mariners sound serious about fixing their hitting woes.

Here’s what you need to know from the weekend across MLB.

Nobody in MLB has more wins than the New York Yankees (42). And that’s because the Bronx Bombers rolled into San Francisco and bullied the Giants behind dominant performances from their superstars. It was the baseball equivalent of a ruthless noogie.

The series was defined by the storyline of Bay Area kid Aaron Judge playing his first career games at Oracle Park after his dramatic free-agent frenzy broke the hearts of Giants fans (remember Arson Judge). The big man stole the show in the opener, thumping a pair of big flies to help the Yankees to a 6-2 win. But the next day was truly unforgettable.

In the first inning of Saturday’s contest, Judge obliterated a Logan Webb change-up for a supersonic 464-foot monster shot in another Yanks victory.

San Francisco entered the ninth inning on Sunday with a two-run lead, with a chance to salvage the finale. Crucially however, the Yankees employ Juan Soto. After an Anthony Volpe triple cut the lead to one, Soto smashed a grooved Camillo Doval heater into the right-field seats for a one-run lead. It was a Murphy’s Law weekend for the Giants and their fans.

The Yanks head home after a very successful nine-game California trip — they went 7-2 — for a series against, who else, their all-time punching bag: The Minnesota Twins.

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 01: Jackson Chourio #11 of the Milwaukee Brewers dumps Gatorade on teammate Willy Adames #27 after Adames hit a walk off single in the tenth inning against the Chicago White Sox at American Family Field on June 01, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

Milwaukee took care of business against the woeful White Sox in one of the weekend’s three sweeps. After a 23-hit barrage in the opener, the Brewers edged out the White Sox behind solid pitching in the last two games from rookie Robert Gasser, ace Freddy Peralta and a lockdown bullpen. That makes five consecutive wins for Milwaukee, which, alongside the Cubs’ recent nose dive, has given the Brew Crew a sturdy seven-game advantage atop the NL Central.

Rhys Hoskins’ return from injury a few days ago will only help the Brewers’ surging offense as Milwaukee heads to Philadelphia this week for a scintillating showdown between two of the circuit’s best clubs.

The White Sox, on the other hand, are a catastrophe coated in disaster wrapped in calamity and deep fried in debacle. They have now lost 11 consecutive baseball matches and are MLB’s worst team by a significant margin. At 15-45, Chicago is on pace to finish the season with 40 wins, which would tie them with the 1962 New York Mets for the single lowest winning percentage in MLB’s expansion era.

Things got particularly odd Sunday after fearless veteran outfielder Tommy Pham tried to square up with Brewers catcher William Contreras after a play at the plate. It got relatively chirpy on the diamond, but the 36-year-old Pham — who is almost certainly trade bait for the Sox — took it to another level during his postgame media availability by referencing his offseason fighting regimen.

The 2024 White Sox are a singular experience.

Baltimore general Mike Elias dropped a bad news bomb on Friday afternoon, announcing that two of his team’s pitchers, John Means and Tyler Wells, would be undergoing surgery for torn UCLs. For Means, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2022 but struggled through his return to play, it’s a particularly cruel blow. Wells had started for Baltimore in the early going, but was likely bullpen bound come late summer. The double-whammy increases the likelihood that Elias acts aggressively at the trade deadline.

In the short term, Baltimore has to move forward with the best 13 pitchers already in the organization. That task got off to a great start Friday against Tampa when 36-year-old journeyman Albert Suárez delivered five strong frames in a win. On Saturday, the Birds slugged four long balls in a 9-5 win before the Rays returned with a comeback victory Sunday.

It’s not surprising that Baltimore can really hit, but how the Orioles go about assembling their solid, not dominant pitching staff in the face of these recent injuries is crucial to their long-term success. Good to see Craig Kimbrel roaring again; the future Hall of Famer has steadied the ship with eight scoreless out after a very rocky start to May.

It was an odd weekend in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle swept the hapless Angels because, surprise, surprise, Mariners starting pitchers didn’t allow a single earned run across 20 innings. That’s how the Mariners do things. This rotation is downright dynamite, potentially historically good when it’s all done and dusted.

Bryan Woo, still on a strict pitch limit, carved on Friday. Bryce Miller, the gangly flame-throwing Texan, punched out nine Halos on Saturday. Luis Castillo, ol’ reliable, shoved seven scoreless on Sunday. Ho-hum stuff for the M’s.

As good as Seattle has been on the bump, they’ve been that horrendous in the batters box. The AL West’s horrendous-ness has shrouded the Mariners’ offensive ineptitude, but boy, oh, boy is this team hard to watch hit. The Mariners’ struggles culminated in the firing of team “offensive coordinator” Brant Brown on Friday afternoon.

Brown was brought in over the offseason to help the Mariners ditch the strikeout and increase contact. But through two months the club is hitting .223, which isn’t something good teams do.

It’s rare to see a first-year coach get the heave-ho after just two months, so keep an eye on Seattle’s offense to see if there is a meaningful change.

Detroit has been treading water of late in a surprisingly competitive AL Central. Kansas City and Cleveland have been spectacular, while Minnesota’s roller-coaster season is back on the upswing. But the Tigers, now a game under .500 after a four-game split at Fenway, have been the epitome of meh. Not good, not awful, just plain old mediocre.

And while there were some definite positives — Jack Flaherty was again sensational and leadoff man Matt Vierling is on fire — Detroit made a significant transaction Sunday that showed things are far from peachy in the Motor City. Spencer Torkelson, the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and the presumed savior of Tiger baseball, was optioned down to Triple-A after starting the season with an ugly .597 OPS.

May 30, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) hits a foul ball against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY SportsMay 30, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) hits a foul ball against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers hope a reset down in the minor leagues can fix Spencer Torkelson. (Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports)

Detroit’s rebuild, like any other, is dependent on the blossoming of stars. Its only obvious success in that regard has been the ascension of starting pitcher Tarik Skubal.

Torkelson was supposed to be that for Detroit’s lineup and his demotion to the minor leagues is an admission that the big first baseman needs a reset. It’s hard to be the face of a franchise in Toledo.

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