Many fans of the Dodgers have been anticipating the Reds’ arrival to Dodger Stadium since the teams orchestrated one of the biggest trades of the 2018-19 offseason. Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Kyle Farmer and and injured Alex Wood all made their return to Los Angeles, alongside a few other former Dodger prospects in Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza.
The first game of the three game set did not disappoint by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the consequences may even play big down the road. Here are five of the key takeaways from the opening affair:
Bellinger Injury—Cody Bellinger was struck on the knee by a Luis Castillo heater in the bottom of the third inning, and although initially it looked like he could have continued, the slugger exited the game when the pain became too much to bear. X-Rays were negative. After he was examined, the diagnosis came back as a bruise, but it still remains to be seen if the 23-year-old will miss any extended action.
“It hit me in a good spot to get hit,” Bellinger told J.P. Hoornstra of the OC Register after the game. “It still definitely hurts, but nothing serious. Wake up (Tuesday), see how I feel.”
Fans will be waiting eagerly for news when the players report to the stadium for Tuesday’s contest.
The Return of Kershaw—Aside from the home run off the bat of Puig in the first inning and the fact he wasn’t able to record the win, Clayton Kershaw‘s return to the club on Monday was definitely a productive one.
“I wish I could’ve done anything but give up a homer to Puig in the first at-bat,” Kershaw said after the game. “He put a good swing on it. I’ve seen him do that a lot.”
Kersh threw 84 pitches over seven full innings, allowing two earned runs with six punchouts and no walks. His four-seam sat in the 89-91 range, and despite his hard stuff being not especially effective, his curve ball turned out to be one of his primary weapons. Like Bellinger, fans will be awaiting news on how Kershaw feels on Tuesday afternoon. As of right now, things look good for the lefty, and his return couldn’t have come at a better time.
Barnes Needs a Break—Hoornstra also pointed out the recent workload of catcher Austin Barnes, pointing out that the backstop has been struggling with the lumber after beginning the season at a red-hot pace.
Barnes began the season by going 8-for-19 with a double, two long balls and five RBI, but has gone just 2-for-14 over his last four starts.
“This pace that he’s on, I don’t see us trying to push him to that,” skipper Dave Roberts told Hoornstra in the press conference.
Pederson Delivers in the Clutch—Regardless of all his offensive heroics over the years—especially in the postseason—Monday night’s walkoff homer was Joc Pederson‘s first career game-winner. Despite his torrid start to begin the season, Pederson later cooled off drastically. However, if Monday night is any indication, another hot streak could be just around the corner. Joc already has seven bombs, and his 1.073 OPS certainly isn’t anything to sneeze at.
Yasiel Being Yasiel—When Puig stepped up to the plate in the first inning of the opener, the fans gave him a bit of a mixed ovation, as some showed their appreciation for the superstar while others shared their disdain by booing in light of recent stories in the news. Hours earlier, Puig was late for his pre-game presser, nor did he show up for the presentation of his NLCS Championship ring.
Nevertheless, his bomb to center in his first AB reminded fans of all the potential he brought to the plate. At the end of the day, maybe all of Puig’s negitive attributes are balanced out by his tremendous skills and tools that he brings to the game. The jury’s still out on whether or not the deal with Cincinnati was a profitable one, but whatever the outcome may be, it appears right now as if the Dodgers will be just fine without him.
If Monday was a prelude to the excitement of what remains in the series, fans best strap themselves in for a thrilling ride. Kenta Maeda is set to face-off against fellow righty Tyler Mahle in the second game on Tuesday.
First pitch is slated for 7:10 PM Los Angeles time.