M. Ellis 2B
AJ Ellis C
The Dodgers will play down south in San Diego to begin their first road trip of the young season. Tomorrow’s matinee game is the Padres home opener which will feature a redesigned Petco Park. Like Dodger Stadium, Petco Park underwent some construction and updating this offseason. Being one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in the Majors led the Padres to decide to move the outfield fences in so that the circa 2004 ballpark could be more favorable to hitters. The left-center field wall has been moved in from 402 feet to 390 feet, the right-center field wall has been pushed in from 402 feet to 391 feet, and the right field wall is now 349 feet instead of 360 feet. The right field wall was lowered from 11 feet to 8 feet, and the out-of-town scoreboard has been relocated. The Padres also moved the visiting team bullpen from foul territory in right field to behind the left-center field wall behind the Padres bullpen. Foul territory bullpens are always dangerous. What do these changes mean for the Dodgers? It could pave way for the first Bison Blast of the season!
Josh Beckett will be looking to bounce back after his shaky first start versus the Giants where he picked up a loss. He allowed five runs including two homeruns (one to Pablo Sandoval and one to Hunter Pence) over six innings of work. He’s been pretty successful against the Padres in his career, and he has a 5-2 record with a 2.09 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings pitched against the Friars.
Clayton Richard, a lefty that’s no stranger to the Dodgers over the years, will also be trying to shake off a poor first outing. He fared even worse than Beckett in his first start, and he allowed seven earned runs including three homeruns on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings against the Mets. Richard has his work cut out for him in his newly redesigned home park since he usually allows a lot of homeruns. Last season he led the N.L. with 31 homeruns allowed. Against the Dodgers, Richard is 6-3 with a 3.16 ERA. Many of the Dodgers have hit well off Richard. Juan Uribe has two homeruns against the southpaw, Matt Kemp has a couple of dingers, and Mark Ellis has even gone deep against him in the past.
I’m predicting at least one Matt Kemp homerun this series since The Bison does very well in San Diego. He is hitting .375 (12-for-32) against Richard with two homeruns, seven RBIs, and four doubles. With the fences moved in, it will be the perfect time for Matt Kemp to break out of his slow start to the season.
Andre Ethier has never fared well against left-hander Clayton Richard over the years. He’s only hitting .143 against him.
While the Dodgers are riding momentum from their sweep of the Pirates, the Padres are trying to collect just their second win on the season. The Dodgers won’t have to worry about Chase Headley who started the season off on the DL with a fractured thumb. Like Hanley Ramirez, the Padres’ slugger will miss some time after he injured his left thumb while sliding and trying to break up a double play during Spring Training. The Padres are also without their 24-year old catcher Yasmani Grandal who was suspended for 50 games back in November for testing positive for a high testosterone level. His suspension began on the first day of the season. The Padres do have a promising rookie second baseman, Jedd Gyorko, who has six hits in six games.
After the Dodgers finish the three-game series in San Diego, they will travel to Arizona to take on the always challenging Diamondbacks.
The game will be televised on KCAL with a 3:40 p.m. start. Don’t forget to check back after the game for our recap. We will also be awarding the most valuable player of the game the Game Ball so look for that in the Gagne’s Game Ball Corner tab on the front page.