Well, that was a heck of a way to start the season off, huh? The Dodgers played about as well as they can in their Opening Day victory, scoring 15 runs and pitching a shutout in a demolition of the Padres.
It’s only one game, but after an off-season of pessimism and a Spring Training of injury doom-and-gloom, it was nice to get the season off on the right foot.
To start, Chase Utley batting lead-off was an interesting choice, if for no other reason than he’s sort of a mediocre hitter now. Rookie manager Dave Roberts defended the choice, saying, “Ultimately, I trust the at-bats and I feel he can get on base.”
Roberts’ decision was immediately awarded in the top of the first, as Utley worked a 3-2 count before banging a soft double into left-center field. Utley later scored the first run of the year for the Dodgers, who took an early 1-0 lead on the double of Corey Seager.
Justin Turner then grounded out meekly to second base, but he moved the runner to third, which made it easy for Seager to score and take a 2-0 lead after Adrian Gonzalez singled sharply into center.
In the bottom half of the first, Clayton Kershaw started his season debut off right, striking out Jon Jay…
…before retiring the side in order.
And Kershaw did that a lot in his seven innings of work. Over 96 pitches, Kershaw struck out nine and walked just one batter. He also allowed just one hit, to Jay, which likely would’ve been a hit regardless, but it’s notable because on the play Carl Crawford did this.
But it didn’t matter much because the Dodgers offense was on fire. They got things started in the third again after Utley was hit by a pitch. Turner then drilled a double down the line, but Utley was thrown out at home while trying to score, which never made a whole lot of sense since A-Gon was next and there were less than two outs. And it made even less sense after A-Gon singled to drive in Turner to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
None of the minor mistakes came close to costing the team, though, as a five-run sixth inning blew the game open for the Dodgers. With one down, Yasiel Puig was hit by a pitch, which was followed by a Crawford dribbler down the third-base line for a single. Joc Pederson followed with a scorched double down the first-base line to score Puig.
The Padres brought the infield in for CC on third, which led to A.J. Ellis‘ bouncer up the middle getting through for two more runs. The threat still wasn’t over, though, as even Kershaw singled sharply to put runners on first and second. A single from Utley and a sacrifice fly from Seager later, and the Dodgers were running away with it 8-0.
But a blowout apparently wasn’t enough as they tacked on three more in the seventh. Puig followed an A-Gon walk with a single, and Trayce Thompson used his first plate appearance as a Dodger to double A-Gon in. After an Ellis walk, Utley singled with the bases loaded to drive in two more and leave the score at 11-0.
After that, I wished the Dodgers could save their runs for tomorrow, but instead they added four more in the eighth. Turner started things off with a double, which was followed by A-Gon singling him in. Puig then tripled to right and then scored on a throwing/fielding error.
Thompson followed with a walk, Joc doubled sharply into left center, and Ellis scored Thompson with a ground out. Almost mercifully, that was the end of the scoring for the Dodgers, who put up 15 runs on 17 hits, with eight going for extra bases.
Louis Coleman and Yimi Garcia took over for Kershaw and closed things out for the Dodgers, maintaining a combined four-hit shutout with only six Padres reaching base.
Of course, after an almost perfect performance in Spring Training to make the roster, Coleman was greeted rudely by a lead-off double, and while he also walked a batter, he worked around it to get out of the eighth inning unscathed. Yimi struggled in a similar fashion, striking out the first batter but then allowing back-to-back singles to put runners on the corner. Fortunately, he wiggled out of it by retiring the next two batters to secure the Opening Day shutout and win for the Dodgers.
-Utley went 3-for-5 with a double, scoring a run and driving in two. Hopefully he can find it again for one year in a part-time role.
-A-Gon finished 3-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, and three runs driven in. Generally seemed to continue his trend of taking what the pitcher was giving him, especially going the other way against the shift.
-Wonderful to see Puig get off to a nice start on the year, and he went 2-for-3, tripling, walking once, getting hit once, scoring three runs, and driving in one.
-Joc was feast-or-famine as usual, smoking the ball three times that resulted in two doubles, but also striking out twice. He finished 2-for-5 with a run scored and a run driven in.
–Turner Ward‘s Dodgers offense is now on pace for an MLB-record 2430 runs, which sounds doable.