This time the Dodgers were in San Diego to open the season for the rest of the Majors. And I won’t go into how the Padres always pander to the military-industrial complex with those ugly camouflage Sunday uniforms, how the military is only there to protect the freedoms of the rich elite, etc.
The game came down to a disastrous eighth inning for the Dodgers. In came the bullpen to relieve seven strong innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu, what the experts say is a strong deep one for the team. The Dodgers held a 1-0 lead, and with Brian Wilson on the mound in the eighth it started to look like Game 2 from Australia. In Sydney the Dodgers nearly coughed up a 7-0 lead by giving up a run in the eighth and four runs in the ninth.
In this one the margin of error was much smaller, obviously. A slider over the plate to pinch hitter Seth Smith to lead off the bottom of the eighth was dispatched into the right field seats to tie the game. As bad as that might have been it got worse.
Wilson walked pinch hitter Yasmandi Grandal, botched a bunt by Everth Cabrera. Grandal then stole second and Cabrera took second on defensive indifference. The Padres, though, weren’t indifferent when Chris Denorfia hit a two-run single that gave the Padres the lead.
A liner by Chase Headley that bounced off of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and back into the infield, that ended Wilson’s night with no outs recorded.
Chris Perez and Paco Rodriguez got the Dodgers out of the jam.
Although the Dodgers lost 3-1, the game set up perfectly for the Dodgers. With the payroll they have, the most in the Majors, there is a tendency to focus on the offense. To see if Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, etc. are going to be the murderer’s row this side of the 1927 Yankees.
But that’s not the Dodgers. The Dodgers narrative will always be pitching, and that narrative took a hit as Clayton Kershaw opened the season on the disabled list with a strain of his Teres Major muscle — a muscle that connects the back to the arm. If Kershaw is out for any extended period of time, that will bode trouble for the Dodgers hope to repeat as division champions.
But for today the Dodgers had Hyun-Jin Ryu. Without looking at his starts last season, it seemed like this one followed the same script. Ryu got in trouble early, squirmed out of it, then shut the opponent down.
In the first inning with runners on second and third with no outs, Ryu got Chase Headley to strike out swinging. He then pitched around Jedd Gyorko which I assumed meant he wanted to set up the double play. That’s exactly what happened: Yonder Alonso bounced back to the box for the 1-2-3 double play.
In the second inning, Ryu had runners on first and second with no outs. He got Rene Rivera to fly out to right, starting pitcher Andrew Cashner sacrificed and Everth Cabrera struck out swinging, the first three outs of 16 consecutive outs. Three hits and two walks over two innings for Ryu, but most importantly no damage was done.
As for the bats, the Dodgers only managed four hits. Two of those hits came in the fifth inning which coupled with two walks gave the Dodgers the lone run they scored through eight innings.
So it didn’t work in this game. It’s just one game with one pitcher having a tough stretch. The Dodgers get the day off tomorrow while the rest of baseball begins.