This afternoon’s opening day was history in the making for the Dodgers. No not because it was the first full season under the new Guggenheim ownership, or even because of the new improvements to Dodger Stadium. Today was historic because of what Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw did on the mound, and at the plate today. It was simply amazing.
The Dodgers defeated the evil world champion San Francisco Giants by a score of 4-0 on opening day in front of a sold out raucous crowd at Dodger Stadium. Stacie and myself were there in person to witness it all. We drank it in. We reveled in it. It was time for Dodger Baseball and nothing else mattered in the world to us. It was how it should always be, my sister and myself, and 56,000 fellow Dodger fans, rooting our beloved Dodgers onto victory.
The day started with Stacie and myself getting to the ballpark early to attend a very wonderful Farmer John pre-party being held at the Lodge Terrace Grill. Stacie will have pictures of the entire day in a special post later. We were invited as guests, and sat in the patio eating Dodger dogs, sipping iced tea, and basically just loving life. It was a great way to start the afternoon, so thank you Farmer John.
Afterwards, we went to our seats and the pre-game festivities began. The Blue man group played before the game, and then a special vignette played on the new video boards before the ceremonial first pitch was thrown. The vignette was a special tribute to the Dodgers, as various celebrities wished the Dodgers luck in the new season. We saw Britney Spears, Samuel L. Jackson, The Laker’s Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Kings, and many others wishing the Dodgers good luck, as dubstep blared over the new sound system to pump up the crowd. Finally the last face to wish the Dodgers good luck, was none other than our own beloved Magic Johnson.
After a much deserved standing ovation for Vin Scully,
Orel Hershiser Magic Johnson was all set to make the ceremonial first pitch. That is until Manager Don Mattingly came out to make a pitching change. He was calling for the lefty. It was none other than Sandy Koufax. A very touching tribute to the left handed hall of fame Dodger great. So it was fitting that Clayton Kershaw, who we consider as the direct decedent to Sandy Koufax, to take the mound in this game. His opponent on the mound was Giant’s ace Matt Cain.
The game started out as a tight pitching duel between two very good pitchers. Kershaw started the season by retiring Angel Pagan, and Marco Scutaro on pop ups. San Francisco resident fatso Pablo Sandoval singled up the middle and advanced to second base on a wild pitch from Kershaw. However that would be the only mistake Kershaw would make, as he whiffs Buster posey on a called third strike to end the frame.
The Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the first, but Cain and the Giants squelched a potential Dodger rally, thanks to some fine pitching from Cain, and a Dodger base running blunder. Carl Crawford led off with a single that deflected off of the glove of Brandon Belt. Mark Ellis was hit by a pitch. But, Matt Kemp whiffs, and with Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Crawford tried a very ill-advised steal, and was thrown out at third by Posey for the second out. Gonzo walked, but Andre Ethier whiffed to end the frame and the Dodgers don’t score.
Move to the top of the third. Dodger catcher and miracle man A.J. Ellis, returned the favor to the annoying Giants. With two outs the irritating Angel Pagan singles, and is thrown out trying to steal second by Ellis. Nice throw A.J.! With the game still a scoreless tie, the Dodgers threatened again in the bottom of the fourth. They put two runners on again, but couldn’t score. Gonzo and Ethier both singled, but Luis Cruz, and A.J. both pop out to end the rally.
Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh, with the game still scoreless. Both pitchers were locked in at this point. Kershaw had only allowed two hits, and Cain only three. However Cain had to overcome some early wildness in the first inning which ran up his pitch count. So by the bottom of the seventh inning he was removed for George Kontos. Cain went six frames, allowing no runs on four hits, walked one and whiffed eight Dodgers.
Konto pitched a 123 seventh frame, which brought Kershaw back out to the mound in the top of the eighth. Kershaw has another easy 123 inning, and we move to the bottom of the eighth where history is made.
With Kontos still on the mound, Kershaw leads off and slams a fastball over the center field wall for a solo home run. His first career major league home run. The shot ignited the crowd like I haven’t seen in some time. I went crazy, and Stacie was in utter shock. We all started dancing as Kershaw rounded the bases, it was truly a magical moment. Not everyone was happy of course. Some salty San Francisco fans started to throw necklace beads at me. Probably because I am very loud. I don’t care though. They can throw as many beads as they want at me, it won’t change the score.
The crowd wanted Kershaw to take a curtain call, but he wouldn’t do it because there was still three more outs to get. Kershaw was locked in. Nothing could stop him. The home run gave the Dodgers their first run of the season and a 1-0 lead.
That’s when the wheels fell off for the Giants, and Dodger Stadium went into bedlam. Crawford doubled into the left field corner. M.Ellis tried to sacrifice him to third, (again bunting when the runner is already in scoring position is stupid, but I digress). Posey dove to catch the ball, but he came up just short, and Ellis had beaten the throw to first. Everyone was safe, and the Dodgers had runners at first and third.
The Giants make a pitching change to try and stop the Dodgers’ momentum, but it was too little too late. Santiago Casilla is brought in to face Kemp. Casilla uncorks a wild pitch, which easily scores Crawford and advances M.Ellis to second. 2-0 Dodgers! The fun continued. Kemp walks. San Francisco makes another pitching change. This time it’s left hander Jeremy Affeldt. He plunks Gonzo with a pitch and the bases are loaded. Two ground-outs from Ethier and A.J. plate two additional runs, and the Dodgers enter the top of the ninth leading 4-0.
That was way more that Kershaw would ever need. Kershaw allowed just a meaningless single to Pagan in the ninth inning, to pick up the complete game shut-out win on opening day. Sandoval grounds out to Cruz to end the game, and the Dodgers win!
Kershaw’s final line was nine innings, four hits, no runs, no walks, and seven whiffs. Kershaw is now 9-4 with a 1.37 ERA in his career versus the hated Giants. Do you want to know something even more impressive? The last time a starting pitcher pitched a complete game shut-out win and hit a home run on opening day was Bob Lemon back in 1953. Just another one of many amazing accomplishments for the talented lefty.
I am so excited for this season I can hardly sit still. I don’t know what else to say here. Today was amazing, plain and simple. Sure the offense was kind of stagnant for the first six frames, but remember, we were facing one of the better pitchers in the league in Matt Cain, and the defending world Champions. It’s not like we were facing the Astros. The Dodgers banged out four runs on seven hits. Crawford and Mark Ellis both had two hits on the game.
I know it’s just one game and we have a long way to go, but if this doesn’t get you excited for the Dodger season, then you better check your pulse. Tomorrow we return to our normal game format recapping. Hyun-jin Ryu will make his Dodger debut tomorrow night against the Giants. The evil ones will counter with Madison Bumgarner. Check back in here tomorrow at 7:05 PM, as we’ll have all the Dodger coverage.
There is nothing sweeter than beating the Giants on opening day. It is pure unfiltered joy. Seeing the sullen and downcast looks on the Giant fans faces after the game was utterly priceless. Only 161 more games to go.
If this doesn’t prove how important Clayton Kershaw is to the Dodgers, then I don’t know what will. Until tomorrow Dodger fans. I have only one thing to say to Giant fans…..NEENER…..NEENER….NEEENER! Go Blue!