Baseball, Sports

Fair or Foul: And we’re off

The 2021 MLB Season is here. Yes, it actually started last Thursday, and a full 162-game season awaits. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the biggest highlights and low-lights of Opening Weekend.

The White Sox have a new Mercedes

Not the car, rather the sensational start of 28 year-old catcher Yermin Mercedes. After essentially spending the entirety of the last decade in the minors, Mercedes opened up his first full campaign with an 8-for-8 stretch over the first two games. The White Sox may have dropped three of the first four games to the Angels — more on them later — but Mercedes’ hot start was a big plus.

Baltimore is 3-0, and Boston is 0-3

Yes, it is incredibly likely that neither of these starts will mean much when all is said and done. However, the Orioles seemed to have done everything right this weekend. John Means, the only good starter the O’s have, dominated the Sox Friday, which was followed up by Matt Harvey and the bullpen doing much of the same Saturday. That all preceded the anticipated debut, but unanticipated whooping, of Garrett Richards in an 11-3 loss.

The Dodgers did what the Dodgers should do

The L.A. Dodgers and Colorado Rockies may have the two most opposing outlooks for the 2021 season, and it showed in their four-game opening series. Clayton Kershaw got walloped on Opening Day as the Rockies outslugged L.A. That script flipped over the next two games as the whole Dodgers’ lineup worked to expose the feeble Rockies’ pitching staff. The offenses may have both slowed down Sunday, but Julio Urias hurled into the 8th for the Dodgers.

The Angels played just as well: L.A. baseball is on fire out of the gate

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim displayed strong pitching performances in their three wins in the opening series. That is shocking given their lacking depth and history of injuries and struggles. Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb and Shohei Ohtani all pitched well, along with many arms in the bullpen. Ohtani also had two home runs, including one on the day he pitched. Jared Walsh’s two bombs backed him up. Hopefully the Angels pitching can hold up to compliment the Mike Trout Era.

The Houston Astros got to 4-0 in dominating fashion

Despite a severely depleted pitching staff that is without Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez and top-prospect Forrest Whitley, Houston slugged its way to the best start of any team. The Astros scored 35 runs in the four games, including exactly nine runs in three straight games. Jose Altuve has hit .375 and scored eight runs, Yordan Alvarez hit three extra-base hits and had six RBIs and Alex Bregman went deep twice. All this was backed up by strong outings by Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. and the bullpen.

The Blue Jays’ most glaring weakness netted them two wins over the Yankees

The New York Yankees saw a strong Opening Day outing from ace Gerrit Cole, but it was spoiled when the Yankees could not get hits with runners in scoring position. The Blue Jays bullpen shut the lineup down in Game 1, and then did so again in Game 3 of the series. The Yankees pitching staff quelled the elite Toronto lineup well by holding them to eight runs. The Blue Jays’ hurlers did a fantastic job, and that is why the team is 2-1 while the Yankees are 1-2.

Two starters faced off, and each took no-hitters into the 7th inning

On Saturday, Jose Berrios of the Twins and Corbin Burnes of the Brewers — two young, hard-throwing righties — faced off at American Family Field. By the time the 6th inning ended, the pitchers gave up zero hits, while combining for 23 strikeouts. Unfortunately, Byron Buxton ended Burnes’ effort with a lead-off homer in the 7th, and Berrios departed the game after his six innings of work. Minnesota’s no-hit bid lasted one out into the 8th inning when Omar Narvaez singled off Tyler Duffey. The Twins walked away with the 2-0 win, but unfortunately there were no Opening Weekend no-hitters.

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