The Dodgers started off their season with a 8-1 win Thursday night against the rival Giants. Using a five-run seventh inning, the Dodgers sent 11 batters to the plate to secure the victory.
On a usual opening day, Dodger Stadium would be filled with blue, fireworks, and jet flyovers. Instead, on this night, only sponsor flags filled the pavilion alongside cardboard cutouts.
The most shocking news of the evening came just hours before the first pitch, as presumed starter Clayton Kershaw was scratched after a back injury. 22-year-old rookie Dustin May, who was originally optioned to the Dodgers alternate site, was given the Opening Day start.
May became the youngest Dodger to start on Opening Day since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
May was told by the Dodgers one day prior that he might get the start if Kershaw couldn’t go. The rookie made the best out of the situation only giving up one earned run over 4 ⅓ innings. The red-haired, right-hander looked to be amped early as he hit 100 MPH on several occasions. The bullpen then pitched scoreless innings the rest of the way.
Up until the seventh inning, the game looked to be a pitching duel. Offensively, the Giants struck first with a Pablo Sandoval sacrifice fly in the third inning. Kike Hernandez, who eventually drove in five runs on four hits, evened the score at one with an RBI single in the fourth.
The game turned into a battle of bullpens after both starters exited until the seventh inning when Mookie Betts gave a glimpse of what Dodger fans will see for the next 12 years. On a Justin Turner ground ball to second base with the infield in, Betts got a great read from third base and sprinted home, sliding headfirst just underneath the throw.
“We’re deep,” said Betts in a postgame interview. “We battled and grinded through the whole day and we put up some runs.”
That play from Betts was a rally starter as the Dodgers poured on the offense from that point. Hernandez would bring in two more runs on a double, and then in the eighth inning, he put the game to bed with a two-run home run. Hernandez joined Joe Morgan as the only second baseman with five or more RBIs on Opening Day.
Despite the Dodger offense recording 12 hits and eight runs, manager Dave Roberts did not think his ballclub was great.
“I don’t think we had a great night offensively,” said Roberts in a postgame interview.
The Dodgers will now hand the ball to Ross Stripling for the second game of the series Friday night. Stripling, much like May, was trying to cement a starting role with the Dodgers in summer camp. With David Price opting out of playing the 2020 season, Stripling grabbed the last rotation spot.
In multiple roles last year both in the bullpen and starting, Stripling went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA, pitching 90.2 innings in 32 games. The one-time All-Star has a career ERA of 3.55 against the Giants, and as fans might remember, he made his major league debut against the Giants holding a no-hitter until the eighth inning when he was removed.
Stripling looks to face lefty Tyler Anderson in the probable pitching matchup Friday.
- Betts RF
- Muncy 1B
- Turner 3B
- Bellinger CF
- Hernandez 2B
- Seager SS
- Taylor LF
- Pederson DH
- Smith C
First pitch is slated for 6:40 p.m. Los Angeles time.