(Photo Credit: zimbio.com)
Really, it was very sweet of the Dodgers to echo the optimism of my post earlier today. Who cares about 10 players on the DL when the team you have scores 15 runs in their first game?
Ok, so I know that not every game is going to be this good. Of course it can’t be. But there’s not much more of an emphatic way that you can start off a season by scoring 15 runs while blanking a division rival.
Clayton Kershaw is already in midseason form — allowing just one hit and one walk over seven innings of work, with nine Ks and 96 pitches. The most disappointing part of his day was that he failed to drive in a run with the bases loaded in the 6th inning.
Ten players had at least one hit and one run. Chase Utley, who raised many questions as the leadoff hitter, only went 3-for-5 with two singles, a double, a HBP and two RBI. He saw many pitches in his at bats and made Tyson Ross work, and that’s what you’d like to see from your lead off hitter.
Resident Butter-and-Egg man Adrian Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI. Yasiel Puig went 2-for-3 with a triple that resulted in a score on an overthrow, while Joc Pederson went 2-for-5 with two doubles. Even Kershaw got in on the action with a slapped base hit up the middle. Ever the gamer, he had a nine pitch at bat in the 7th, before finally succumbing to a strike out.
What stood out to me the most was that there were no home runs in this game – aside from Puig’s triple, the rest of the 17 hits were doubles or singles. That can only bode well for the season, where relying on power hitting is not necessarily the recipe for success and small ball can win Championships (see: Kansas City Royals). Also, the fact that every starting player collected at least one hit is a positive sign.
The game was not perfect. Utley was on first when Justin Turner hit a beautiful double into right field, and new third base coach Chris Woodward sent Utley home, where a perfect, textbook relay transferred by Alexei Ramirez caught him at home. Birthday boy Louis Coleman gave up a double and a walk in the 8th, while Yimi Garcia gave up two hits in the 9th, allowing a man to reach 3rd before finishing the game.
Still, it was a better opening game than one could have imagined. For a team that has a lot of questions surrounding the pitching staff and ten players on the disabled list, it was the perfect beginning to what will hopefully be a very memorable season.