The Good and Bad: MLB's First Weekend

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:

Baseball started on time in 2021 (for most teams), and (most of) the fans in attendance were treated to some excellent performances that reminded us all why we missed the sport so much last summer. 

White Sox’ Rookie Has Historic Start 

We know the Chicago White Sox are going to compete for a division title and possibly a deep run in the postseason. What you may not have been prepared for is rookie Yermin Mercedes being better out of the gate than any player in the last 121 years of baseball.

Mercedes began the season with eight straight hits - a perfect 8-for-8 - before finally flying out to end the streak. That was on Saturday after he collected hits in his first three at-bats of the night, which followed up his perfect 5-for-5 night on Friday. 

He became just the second player in the modern era of baseball to get five hits in his first career start, and the first since Cecil Travis of the Washington Senators did it in 1933. 

Ohtani Wows in Season Pitching Debut 

Not since Babe Ruth has Major League Baseball seen a true two-way player. Reliever Michael Lorenzen of the Reds has flirted with two-way status, but as a hitter, he topped out at 31 at-bats and a .290 average in 2018. In 2020 he didn’t have a single at-bat. 

Shohei Ohtani of the Angels, however, is the real deal.

In his start on Sunday night, Ohtani became the first pitcher since 1903 to hit second in the lineup. He threw a pitch 101 mph in the first inning, one of nine pitches to break 100 mph, and then hit a home run that came off his bat at 115 mph - the hardest-hit home run from anyone on Opening Weekend.

He left the game in the fifth inning after a bizarre strikeout-passed ball play at the plate, but he is said to be okay. He’s also doing his best to undermine the call for a universal designated hitter. 

Nationals-Mets Opening Series Postponed 

Fans across the country are following strict COVID-19 guidelines to make sure their experience at the stadium is safe. Most stadiums have opened to limited capacity, and masks are required at all times, except when actively eating and drinking. But even still, COVID-19 has already reared its ugly head and forced the postponement of a few games.

The Washington Nationals had a number of people test positive inside the organization, leading to the postponement of their Opening Day game against the New York Mets, and ultimately the entire weekend series. The Nationals have also had Monday’s game with the Braves postponed, but since there have been no new positives since Friday, Tuesday’s game appears to be when their season will begin.

The Mets have had no positive tests but no opponent either, and they will begin their 2021 season on the road at Philadelphia on Monday. The Phillies are off to a 3-0 start and are currently in first place in the National League East. It’s no surprise they boast the shortest odds to win the division at +125.

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