Giants @ Dodgers March 30, 2018: Maybe score a run

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers and Giants are back at it Friday night for the second act of the Opening Series at Dodger Stadium. The rivals from up north snapped Clayton Kershaw‘s eight-year Opening Day winning streak, the difference being a Joe Panik solo home run. Alex Wood looks to even the series up and to demonstrate his capability as the No. 2 starter behind Kersh in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Giants
Dodgers
7:10 PM
Los Angeles
CF
Jackson
CF
Taylor
2B
Panik
SS
Seager
RF
McCutchen
RF
Puig
C
Posey
1B
 Bellinger
3B
Longoria
C
Grandal
LF
Pence
LF
Kemp
1B
Belt 2B Utley
SS
Crawford
3B
Forsythe
P
Cueto (R)
P
Wood (L)

Wood has abandoned his windup and now exclusively pitches out of the stretch, a mechanical change Allen wrote about this week. He was named to the All-Star team after his dominant first half last season when he went 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA into July, but his results declined in the latter part of the season along with a decrease in velocity. Looking to get back to Good Wood, his spring training results were promising (11.4 K/9 in five games with 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings). If he can stay healthy and find more consistency — starting with a win over Johnny Cueto and the Giants in the second contest of the season — he could re-establish himself as not only one of the top Dodger starters, but also as one of the top pitchers in the NL.

Last season, Wood went 2-0 against the Giants with a 4.00 ERA in three starts. Overall, he’s 2-2 with a 5.35 ERA in nine career games (five starts) against San Francisco. Buster Posey is hitting .467 with seven hits in 15 at-bats against the lefty, and Brandon Crawford is also hitting over .400 against him with two home runs.

The pitching wasn’t the problem on Thursday. Even though Kershaw’s velocity was down when compared to past Opening Day starts, the only blemish that cost him was the Panik homer. There were a lot of positives to take away even though the Dodgers fell short. Those who hadn’t had the opportunity to see JT Chargois pitch this spring were bowled over by the right-hander in his first regular-season outing with the Dodgers. He displayed his lively pitching arsenal, hitting 95-mph on the gun, while striking out two in a stellar seventh inning. Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani also each pitched a perfect frame as well.

The offense was the main offender in the 1-0 loss. Minus Kershaw, who collected two base hits himself, most of the lineup looked off-balance and indecisive at the plate. They went 0-for-5 with RISP and left nine men on base. Obviously Justin Turner‘s absence leaves a big hole, but you have to take that bat off your shoulders, guys.

Cueto will see a slightly different lineup than Ty Blach faced in the first game of the series. Chase Utley gets his first start of the year at second base, batting seventh. Bellinger moves up to the cleanup spot with Yasmani Grandal hitting fifth. A Chris Taylor, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Bellinger 1-4 at the top of the lineup looks like a solid bet while Turner is out.

Dave Roberts said Joc Pederson will start Sunday, and Enrique Hernandez will start a majority of the time at second base with Utley getting a start here and there against selected right-handed pitching.

Cueto had a down year in 2017 in part due to blisters and a flexor tendon strain. He looked like himself this spring, striking out 16 batters in 15 innings. Last year against the Dodgers, the herky-jerky right-hander went 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA in four starts. Overall, he’s 6-8 against L.A. with a 3.44 ERA in 17 career games. Matt Kemp and Utley have both his three home runs apiece against him.

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Joe Davis, a Dodgers Digest reader, will be on the call in the SNLA booth as the Dodgers look for their first run — and first extra-base hit — of the season. The broadcast will also be simulcast on KTLA.

A friendly reminder that there’s still 160 more games to go after this, and many of them will be bad baseball games. Let’s pace ourselves when it comes to the doom and gloom. It could always be worse.

Then again, there’s been more sewage than scoring at Chavez Ravine so far.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.