Defense was once again San Diego’s undoing as a flustery third inning meltdown leads to two more errors and two unanswered Dodger runs as the Dodgers beat the Padres in San Diego for the second time in as many nights. However it wasn’t just San Diego’s many bumbling errors that did them in, it was Chad Billingsley and his domination. After he looked terrible this spring experimenting with a cutter that didn’t do much, Bills stymied San Diego all night long. Bills pitched 8.1 shutout innings, allowing just three hits, whiffing eleven, and walking only one. Talk about a clutch performance from Bills right? After Kershaw had to leave early with the flu, we needed Bills to go deep today to give the bullpen a rest, and that is exactly what he gave us. Clutch clutch performace from Billingsley. Andre Ethier provided the offesnse with two hits, a double, triple, and four RBIs. Who says Ethier can’t hit lefties?
Now that the first opening day is out of the way, we can really get down to business. Before the game we learned that Magic Johnson and the GBM filed paperwork with MLB to process their winning bid and purchase of the Dodgers. We learned that Kershaw is still sick from the flu, and we were all wondering what kind of performance we were going to get from Chad Billingsley considering he struggled a lot during the spring. Since then Bills has claimed that the problem besides his ever changing mechanics, was a faulty cutter that he was trying to throw to much. He has said he will be abandoning it. With that being said, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of outing we would get from him.
The Dodgers start off hot, scoring two runs on consecutive singles from Mark Ellis and Rivera and a double by Andre Ethier. Cory Luebke begins the game by whiffing Gordon, as Dee stands at the plate like a statue. Mark Ellis follows with a base knock up the middle. Bison slams a fly ball to deep right field that sends Venable to the wall, but alas it is just short. It ends up being just a long out. Rivera who is looking very solid, drops a single just inside the first base line. Ellis goes to third on the hit. First and third with two outs for Andre Ethier. Dre blasts a double into the gap, and off of a lefty! Ellis and Rivera both score and the Dodgers take an early 2-0 lead! Ethier looks just fantastic at the plate, he is healthy and ready to make all of those Dre haters look like fools. Yeah what’s up now haters? You got nothing to say do you? Get some. Jerry Hairston who is in the lineup and playing left field, since Loney is sitting against the lefty, breaks his bat on a grounder to third to end the frame.
We are all on pins and needles for Billingsley’s first outing. He has been dreadful this spring, but he starts out good. He whiffs Cameron Maybin on a nice curve-ball, for the first out. He proceeds to whiff Venable for the second out. After going full count to Chase Headley, Bill proceeds to whiff him like a rented mule. Bills completes the first frame by whiffing the side. Nice work Bills!
In the top of the second, Uribe whiffs to start the frame. No surprise there. A.J. Ellis pops out to right. Bills whiffs to end the top of the second.
Bills falls behind to the Padre’s diamond in the rough Jesus Guzman, and he hits one into the gap between Kemp and Hairston. Guzman goes into second base with a stand up double. Bills bounces back to whiff Yonder Alonso. Bills walks Nick Hundley to put runners at first and second. Our worries are quickly washed away when former Dodger Orlando Hudson more commonly known as O-dawg, grounds into an inning ending 6-3 double play.
Stat of the night-Bills has always pitched well against San Diego. He is 11-9 with a 2.79 ERA and 121 whiffs.
Gordon leads off the third by trying to bunt, but is thrown out by Hundley. Mark Ellis flares a bloop hit just fair down the right field line, in between a trio of Padres. Ellis winds up at second with a double. Bison hits a slow roller up along third, and Headley makes a wide throw that Alonso can’t pick. The ball rolls away, and Ellis races around to score. Bison takes second on the throw to the plate. The error is charged to Alonso. Remember the Padres made three errors last night. Now the Padres try to pick off Bison at second and throw the ball into center-field, allowing Bison to advance to third. Next up, Juan Rivera bloops one to shortstop, but Bartlett somehow loses the ball in the lights, and it bounces off his glove for another error. Bison easily scores and it is now 4-0 Dodgers. The Padres are quite bumbling aren’t they? You can almost hear that yakkity-yak song playing in the background. Luebke returns to whiff Ethier on a borderline called strike, and also whiffs Hariston to get out of the inning. However the damage is done, and that is now five errors in the first two games for San Diego. You gotta love it when the opposing team has a huge flustery meltdown right?
Bills whiffs Bartlett, and Cory Luebke to start the bottom of the third. That is six whiffs now for Bills. Oh wait, now he whiffs Maybin as well to whiff the side. Seven whiffs now, and what in the world has gotten into Chad Billingsley?
Uribe’s shallow fly to right field is caught by a diving Will Venable. Ellis pops out to Venable. Billingsley whiffs to end the top of the fourth.
Bottom of the fourth. Venable hits a pop fly double just inside the left field line. Of course the rangeless hairston is nowhere in sight. Bills whiffs Headley for his eighth whiff of the night. Jesus Guzman hits a come-backer, Bills looks Venable back to second and records the out at first. Alonso grounds out to short to end the frame. Why Can’t Bills pitch like this every start? He looks like the Bill sof old. No more crappy floating cutter, he is attacking the strike zone, getting ahead of hitters, and no more nibbling.
So with the Dodgers up 4-0, we go to the top of the fifth. Gordon leads off with his first hit of the season. Now a rabbit is on the loose. Gordon takes off to steal second base with Ellis at the plate, and Hundley nails him, even though replays show he looked safe. Come on Umps, get it together! Nick Hundley does have a strong arm, if you remember he threw out Bison yesterday.
speaking of Bison, he reaches out and pokes a single into center field. Too bad Gordon was thrown out stealing because otherwise he would have scored. Two outs, and Rivera at the plate, Bison steals second. This time Hundley can’t get him, and Bison is in scoring position. Rivera walks. Ethier clobbers a ball into the gap in right center field. The ball hits off the top of the wall, and Ethier goes into third for a stand up triple! Bison and Rivera come home to score, and its 6-0 Dodgers! With that Healthy knee, Dre has no issues running the bases.
With that, Bud Black had seen enough, and hooks Luebke. He made 86 pitches, in 4.2 innings. He allowed five runs on nine hits, one walk, and six whiffs. Enter into the game pitcher Micah Owings. Owings immediately walks Hairston. Of course Uribe swings at the first pitch and pops out. Even Vinny points out how Uribe always swings at the first pitch.
Hundley leads of the bottom of the fifth with a popout. O-dawg whiffs for the ninth whiff for Bills. Bartlett ends the frame with a flyball to Kemp. Bills is in crusie control.
Top of the sixth. Owings gets Ellis whiffing on a check swing called third strike. Bills grounds out. Gordon flies out to end the top half of the sixth. Up to this point Bills has made only 70 pitches. He starts the bottom of the sixth by whiffing Micah Owings for his tenth whiff of the game. Remember his career high in whiffs is 13. Maybin pops out to Ellis. Venable grounds out to Ellis to end things in the sixth.
Top of the seventh, Ellis and Bison both ground out. O-dawg makes an impressive stop to throw out Rivera to end the seventh. Owings really restored order for the Padres, and retired seven in a row.
Bills whiffs Headley to start the bottom of the seventh for his eleventh whiff of the night. Guzman grounds out to third. Alonso grounds out to first. That is now twelve retired in a row for Billingsley. Owings whiffs Ethier to begin the top of the eighth. Hairston singles to right. Uribe ends the inning by hitting into a double play. Yep it is Juan Uribe.
Move to the bottom of the eighth. Hundley flies to deep center. O-dawg grounds out. Bartlett flies out to Ethier, as he makes a nice running catch. That is now fifteen in a row retired by Bills. Hot dam!
Rookie Andrew Cashner takes the mound for the top of the ninth. He is the prospect the Padres got from the Cubs in the Anthony Rizzo trade. A lot of pressure on the young kid. Cashner is unable to locate his fastball and walks Ellis. Billingsley who is allowed to bat, sacrifices Ellis over to second. Gordon whiffs. The kid throws hard, and gets Ellis to ground out to end the frame.
Move to the bottom of the ninth. Billingsley has retired fifteen in a row, has eleven whiffs and is looking for his third career shutout. Hermida grounds out to short. Ufortunatly Maybin singles to end Bill’s out streak. After 107 pitches Bills is hooked. Mattingly brings in Jamey Wright. Venable grounds into a force out to third base. Uribe gets the lead runner. Two outs. Remember Wright is quite adept at inducing ground balls. Chase Headley grounds out to first to end the game, and the Dodgers win it 6-0.
Great game! Big ups to Chad Billingsley who pitched one heck of a game. We needed this to rest the bullpen. If this is any indication of how Bills is going to pitch, then we might be in pretty good shape. Besides Bills, Ethier had two extra base hits, and four RBIs (Double and Triple), and Kemp, Rivera and Ellis all had two hits each. A true team effort tonight. Celebration time Dodger fans! Join us tomorrow as Chris Capuano takes the mound in his season debut for the Dodgers. The Padres will counter with Dustin Moseley, in a 535PM game. Good Night all! Good Good times! Go Blue