Another weekend of Major League Baseball is in the books. We're coming together every Sunday to award winners and losers after each weekend of MLB action this season. Here are the big winners and losers from the last few days, including Jacob deGrom's continued dominance, Pablo Sandoval's celebratory "panda" hugs and Clayton Kershaw's struggles in Atlanta.
Now, here's the good and the bad from the ninth weekend of MLB action:
Winner: deGrom sets record, gets some help from Lindor
Here's a look at the right-hander's line:
So, that's just three hits allowed and 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings, all while lowering his 2021 season ERA to 0.62. That's the lowest ERA after nine starts since the stat was adopted in 1913. Of the 85 pitches, deGrom threw 60 for strikes and finished the night with an average of 100.4 mph for his fastball.
Juan Marichal (Hall of Famer)
Walter Johnson (Hall of Famer)
Along with the ERA-related accolades, deGrom on Saturday also became the first pitcher in MLB history to begin a season with nine consecutive starts of one or zero earned runs. Five of those nine starts have been scoreless.
Record chasing is nothing new for the Mets No. 1 starter, but what is new from this weekend is that the Mets were able to give deGrom some much-needed run support in their win over the Padres. The club scored four runs, including two home runs (Jose Peraza, Francisco Lindor) off San Diego starter Joe Musgrove. The formerly slumping Lindor is now hitting .406/.424/.750 with two homers and 10 runs scored in his past seven games.
The St. Louis Cardinals are struggling as of late. They were swept by the Cincinnati Reds this weekend in a four-game series at Busch Stadium. The last time the Reds had swept a four-game series in St. Louis was back in 1990.
They did manage to keep things interesting in Sunday's game (box score) when they came back to tie the game thanks to a seven-run seventh inning, but still ultimately fell to their division foe. Now, they've lost five straight games and seven of their past nine games.
"It's just not going our way at the moment," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "It'll turn. I appreciate the how guys are competing because sometimes you don't get the end result, but it's how you go about it. These guys are laying it all out there."
While the club did show some offensive resiliency in Sunday's loss, they still need to improve as they own a minus-18 run differential after the weekend and sit behind the Cubs and Brewers in the National League Central.
Winner: Sandoval hugs
We love to highlight baseball's most wackiest and wholesome moments here in this column every week. With that being said, we're handing off one of our winner tags to something that highlights both. Veteran Pablo Sandoval implemented a new post-home run celebration for the Braves team this weekend.
After any and every home run hit by a Braves player, Sandoval proposed an incentive (I guess you could call it that) where he would give his home run hitting teammate a big congratulatory hug. Sandoval, of course, has been commonly known for his "Panda" nickname handed to him by his former San Francisco Giants teammates over a decade ago. Therefore, Sandoval had to personalize the hugs, of course, by making them panda hugs. Which just meant Sandoval would wear a giant foam panda head while he gave his teammates a hug.
For your viewing pleasure:
It's incredibly endearing to watch how excited the 34-year-old Sandoval gets for his patented Panda hug celebration. During this weekend's Braves-Dodgers series at Truist Park, a handful of panda hugs were given out. You gotta love baseball and its players for the all-around genuine commitment to staying weird.
On a more game-related specific note from Braves-Dodgers on Saturday, Clayton Kershaw lost to the Atlanta ball club for the first time in 12 career regular-season starts. The three-time Cy Young winner entered the matchup 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Braves before he allowed five runs (including the go-ahead run on an RBI double from Ozzie Albies), eight hits and one walk while striking out nine in six innings.
Guillermo Heredia reached on an infield single before Kershaw got Kevan Smith and Charlie Morton out. But, things went south one he gave up an eight-pitch walk to Ronald Acuna Jr. All five runs allowed were with two outs in the third inning, in which he needed 33 pitches (faced nine batters) to complete.
"I couldn't stop the bleeding with two outs," Kershaw said after the game. "Shouldn't give up any runs when you get to two runs. ... Tough inning, not what you want to do. Frustrating for me. Battled as best I could and got through six, which I guess was somewhat of a positive, but just a frustrating inning."
The rough outing was also more runs surrendered than Kershaw had in any of his previous 14 starts against Atlanta. It was also his second straight ineffective start after Kershaw, 33, gave up five runs and seven hits in a 5-4 loss to the division rival San Francisco Giants last Sunday. This is the fourth time in Kershaw's career that he's allowed five or more runs in consecutive games. The last time that happened was ten years ago, during the 2011 MLB season.
Winner: Yermín Mercedes' barber
This one is pretty self explanatory. Please enjoy this photograph of White Sox rookie Yermín Mercedes' new haircut.
Yes, as the side of his head tells you, that is the Yermínator. And no, you should not shave your nickname into the side of your head unless you are the Yermínator.