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Homers, cycles, and walk-offs, oh my! It was an exciting night of baseball, and we have all the stories you should know right here.
Atlanta Walking Off the Slow Start
When Atlanta entered the 2022 season, many expected the Defending World Series champions to continue to be a force. With much of the same lineup, plus the return of Ronald Acuña Jr. and a trade for Matt Olson, the Braves seemed to be poised for another NL East title. The New York Mets had something else in mind.
It was a tough start to the year for Atlanta, who struggled out of the gate. Conversely, the Mets were skyrocketing. But in the last few weeks, Atlanta has started to change that story. Last night’s at-bat from Adam Duvall in the bottom of the ninth added another chapter:
We were down 2 runs in the 9th when Duvall of the sudden…!!#ForTheA pic.twitter.com/leH9UlYYib
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 23, 2022
This win against a good San Francisco Giants team is pretty representative of how Atlanta has been playing. Adam Duvall has been hot. Charlie Morton has been looking like an ace. And Acuña continues to be one of the most electric players in the league.
The team is now 7-3 in their last ten games, and they now only sit 4.5 games back of the Mets. They also hold one of the Wild Card spots. Reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated, keep an eye on Atlanta because they may pull off another hot second half.
Going Cycling in Baltimore
When thinking of up-and-coming outfielders in the league, Austin Hays may not be one of the options that come to mind. After this start to the 2022 season, however, he may need to be taken into consideration. The 26-year-old has a .287 average and a .829 OPS on the season to go along with 37 R, 10 HR, 40 RBI, and 1 SB. For an Orioles team that hopes to be on the right side of a rebuild, Hays’ emergence is a welcome sight.
Last night, he added another achievement to his breakout season: a cycle.
Let's take a look at @TheAustinHaysss' historic night! 👏 pic.twitter.com/zM3NkHCz54
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 23, 2022
The Orioles sit in last place with a 30-39 record in the tough AL East, but Hays is a spark of hope for the Baltimore faithful. This is the kind of player you can build around, and here’s hoping he can build off this strong season to be that leader in an Orioles clubhouse that looks to take the next step.
Yordan, Ready for Takeoff
Yordan Alvarez. That’s it. That’s the blurb.
Have you Met the best hitter in the league?
He goes by Yordan. pic.twitter.com/91FaXD7hvE
— Houston Astros (@astros) June 22, 2022
Okay, fine, I’ll write more about him because we need to appreciate the superstar that is Yordan Alvarez. After a strong introduction to the league that was interrupted by knee injuries, many were unsure how to rank Yordan. His potential seemed limitless, but could he stay healthy long enough to reach it?
It’s looking like 2022 may be that year. Alvarez is batting .312 with a 1.037 OPS. He has 19 homers, 43 R, and 49 RBI. The guy is an absolute monster, and it’s time to give him his flowers. Aaron Judge has been incredible and Mike Trout is Mike Trout, but Alvarez may be a dark-horse MVP candidate if he keeps this level of play up.
Best Moments From Yesterday
Bringer of Rain…from the Bullpen?
Josh Donaldson is well known as a slugger. From his start in Oakland, to MVP days in Toronto, to his latest stints for multiple teams throughout the league, you can count on Donaldson to drive in runs.
Alas, age gets to us all, and the 35-year-old may feel like he needs to prepare for any potential changes in the future. It’s looking like his next ventures will happen on the opposite side of the ball:
Now warming in the Yankees bullpen, Josh Donaldson… wait what? pic.twitter.com/F98WrFSJyS
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 22, 2022
Donaldson is just being proactive and expanding his work portfolio, and I respect that a lot. You always have to be prepared in this job market.
Tough Love in Tampa
Tampa Bay is a well-running machine of baseball proficiency, and for years the league has wondered how they can emulate the Rays’ success. Is it the front office? Good scouting and development? Maybe the water is just different in Florida?
in the dugout after Choi failed to scoop the low throw pic.twitter.com/O1YlSwOdPU
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) June 23, 2022
Or maybe every Tampa player is just terrified to make a mistake…I guess we’ll never truly know
Opposite Day in Pittsburgh
In recent years, we’ve seen position player pitching become more and more popularized. It does kind of make sense; you save your bullpen arms during a blowout game, give your clubhouse something to laugh about and keep the atmosphere light, and give the player who pitches a nice memory.
So last night when the Pirates sent out infielder Diego Castillo out to the mound as they were losing 14-1 to the Cubs, it made sense. He would get some laughs, the game got a little more relaxed and lighthearted, and David Robertson would get a plate appearance to keep his routine in check.
Wait. David Robertson came up to the plate?
A position played struck out a pitcher tonight because why not pic.twitter.com/pSeUfocrwD
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) June 23, 2022
For the first time in his 14-year career, Robertson stepped up to the plate and went head-to-head with Castillo. It was a great battle, ending in a riveting 3-2 strikeout that both players will remember for the rest of their careers. Donaldson getting ready for the mound and Robertson starting his career as a DH/pinch-hitter. Love to see the veterans staying agile.
Luis Robert was lifted in the eighth inning with leg soreness; the situation is still up in the air.
Carlos Carrasco was taken out during his start against the Astros with back tightness. We’re still awaiting to hear if he will miss an extended amount of time.
Jorge Polanco‘s back tightness has not improved, and he will remain out of the lineups for the near future.
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Fantasy Baseball Coverage
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)