5 things to know from the weekend in MLB: Orioles get revenge in Texas, Yankees bring drama to Toronto

Elsewhere, the Astros flexed on the Mets, and the Phillies' big bats hit the injured list

If a “sweep” is three straight regular-season wins against the same team, then a “mop” is four straight wins.

This past weekend, there were six four-game sets — or mopportunities — across MLB. Unfortunately, no team came through with a bucket full of suds. The Orioles and Angels came close but couldn’t finish the job Sunday after going up 3-0.

Sad? Yes. Disappointing? Absolutely. But we’ll pull it together and review the weekend in MLB anyway. There was still quite a bit to like.

Remember last October, when the Texas Rangers, on their way to the franchise’s first World Series title, gave the baby Baltimore Orioles a swirly in the ALDS? The O’s certainly do.

Over the weekend, Baltimore punched a struggling Texas team in the mouth, taking the first three games before the Rangers avoided a mop with a blowout win Sunday. The enduring moment of the weekend — and perhaps the most electrifying moment of Baltimore’s season thus far — was a grand slam from rookie Heston Kjerstad on Saturday.

In front of 44,000-plus, the blonde-haired outfielder lofted a Michael Lorenzen heater just over the wall in right-center, and Camden Yards went berserk. It was the type of regular-season memory that everyone in attendance will remember forever. A resurgent Craig Kimbrel then held on for his 19th save of the season, lowering his June ERA to 0.96.

It was a sigh-of-relief series for the O’s, who snapped a season-worst five-game losing skid earlier in the week. Baltimore still has serious starting pitching issues, with Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish and John Means all out for the year, but that’s what trade deadlines and stocked farm systems are for.

Also, Gunnar Henderson announced during "Sunday Night Baseball" that he'll be participating in the Home Run Derby. Six Orioles are All-Star finalists. That 110-loss season in 2021 feels like a world away. Life is good in Baltimore.

There must be an iota of regret somewhere deep within Craig Counsell’s soul. His offseason move from Milwaukee to Chicago shocked the sport. Born and raised in The Cream City, Counsell had been the Brewers’ skipper for eight seasons. But with his contract up, the Cubs came calling, offering the veteran manager a record-breaking, five-year, $40 million contract to cross the border and alienate every Brewers diehard.

The move was stunning but understandable. The Cubs offered a larger payroll, a bigger market, more resources and, of course, a life-changing sum of money. But at the halfway point of the 2024 season, Counsell’s move looks like a catastrophe, though through little fault of his own.

There is still ample runway for a resurgence, yes, but Counsell’s fifth-place Cubs dropped to 39-46 with a series loss to the Brewers this weekend. Chicago is now 11.5 games behind Milwaukee in the division and five games back in the painfully mediocre, there-for-the-taking National League wild-card race.

During Chicago’s lone win of the weekend on Saturday, Cubs ace Justin Steele echoed what every Cubs fan has been thinking. After a sloppy defensive third inning tied the game at two, Steele entered his dugout screaming “WAKE THE F*** UP” to both nobody and everybody. His impassioned display worked for a day, but a soggy, two-hit performance Sunday showed once again that Counsell and the Cubbies have a ways to go to salvage their season.

It was quite an eventful four-game split in Toronto for the Yankees. Let’s focus on the drama, if we can call it that. Second baseman Gleyber Torres, in the midst of an abysmal offensive season, was benched this week after some unenthusiastic efforts landed him in the doghouse. He returned Friday and immediately drew the ire of Yankees starter Marcus Stroman by looking somewhat lackadaisical while turning a double play. Stroman could be seen saying, “Throw the f***ing ball, bro” right after the play and was later shown saying, “Have a little intensity, bro.”

The Yankees exploded soon after for a 16-5 victory, and all parties were diplomatic postgame, trying to talk down the significance of the situation. Torres is a struggling hitter who plays with a casual motor; Stroman is high-energy and outwardly emotive. The heat of competition only heightens their contrasting styles. Teammates, like family members, sometimes disagree, and there are no fissures opening in the Yankees clubhouse. However, Torres’ lack of production remains an actual issue, one that will only garner more attention if he keeps finding himself in the middle of moments such as this.

There was also a Juan Soto injury scare this weekend. He was a late scratch from the lineup Saturday after experiencing some swelling in his right hand following a slide in Friday’s game. As is always, understandably, the case whenever a player like Soto gets scratched, there were gasps of panic across Yankee Land. But X-rays were negative, and he was a surprise, late addition to the lineup Sunday, going 1-for-3 with two walks. Also, Aaron Judge has 31 homers and 82 RBI. What a monster.

The Jays, meanwhile, remain stuck in neutral. Toronto is 7.5 games adrift of a playoff spot, despite a spectacular month and weekend from Vlad Guerrero Jr. This team needs a miracle, a hot stretch or both.

Only Houston — MLB’s cartoon villain ever since the unmasking of their can-banging malfeasance — could stifle the magic vibes of the June Grimace Mets. On Friday, the Amazins beat the Astros behind a trio of homers and then celebrated on the field as utilityman/Latin Popstar José Iglesias performed his new single “OMG.” The vibes, as the kids say, were immaculate.

Houston didn’t care. They clawed back from a late two-run deficit Saturday before outlasting the Mets in extra innings Sunday to take a big series in Queens. New York won’t be too peeved; the Mets turned their season around with a 16-8 record in June, and there are more wins for the taking. New York’s next five series are against the Nationals, Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and Marlins.

Houston, meanwhile, is just 3.5 games back of the scuffling Mariners in the uninspiring AL West. The Astros have huge pitching questions — even Framber Valdéz got knocked around Saturday — but these are still the Astros. Not dead yet.

Life without Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber doesn’t seem fun. Both Philadelphia stalwarts hit the injured list over the weekend; Harper due to a left hamstring strain and Schwarber a left groin strain. Both dodged major injuries and should be back before the All-Star break, if not right after it.

Their bats were missed Saturday as the Marlins and their fifth-worst team ERA in baseball held the Phillies to two runs. Then big days from Alec Bohm and Nick Castellanos propelled Philly to a comeback win in the finale on Sunday.

It’s somewhat jarring to see the team with the top record in baseball roll out a lineup with Kody Clemens, 2024 Whit Merrifield, David Dahl and Rafael Marchán. But unlike in previous years, the Phillies’ pitching and organizational depth should allow them to weather the storm until their big boppers get back. Their eight-game cushion over Atlanta atop the NL East doesn’t hurt.