Padres at Dodgers, 1:10pm PT, Dodger Stadium
Here it is at last, the first day of the new season, with the changes the new management made over the winter soon to be on display.
Will Jimmy Rollins play better defense than Hanley Ramirez? Will Howie Kendrick hit better than Dee Gordon? Will Kershaw win a fourth Cy Young Award? Can he lead the National League in ERA for the fifth consecutive year? Will Hyun-Jin Ryu recover from his shoulder woes and win more than fourteen games? Can Kenley Jansen come back from his foot woes and regain his form as an elite closer? Will the Dodgers miss Matt Kemp’s bat more than they’ll be helped by Puig’s play in right field? Can Uribe play up to his standard of the past two years while remaining healthy enough to play 125 games or so? Can Justin Turner keep up his torrid hitting from last year while coming off the bench and playing all over the infield? Will Joc Pederson keep up the hitting he did in spring training? What’s going to happen with André Ethier?
Questions, we have questions. Today we start getting answers.
It’s not every day you see a manager pull a double switch which involves pulling the guy who hit a two-run home run earlier in the game and putting a relief pitcher in his spot. That’s what Don Mattingly did in this game, however, taking Andre Ethier out of the number-two spot and replacing him with closer Brandon League while putting little-used utility-man Elian Herrera in the number-nine spot. It paid off in spades when Herrera came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning and lined a single off the glove of the drawn-in Marco Scutaro at second base, scoring Hanley Ramirez to give the Dodgers a 3 – 2 win and keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.
This was a tight game all evening, with the Dodgers falling behind 1 – 0 on a double by Buster Posey in the very first inning, scoring Scutaro, who’d walked. Ethier got the run back and one more with a booming home run to center field after a Mark Ellis single. The Dodgers had a chance to score an insurance run in the sixth inning, but Adrian Gonzalez’s career-high 47th double of the year was wasted when he was out at the plate on an excellent throw by
Dodger cast-off Xavier Nady after a single by Shane Victorino. Then in the eighth inning the Giants tied the game on a double by Angel Pagan and a single by Scutaro, who took second on Victorino’s ill-advised throw to the plate. Fortunately for the Dodgers, pitcher Kenley Jansen got the next two Giants out with no further damage. League got the Giants out in the ninth, allowing a single by Aubrey Huff but no further damage. That set the stage for Herrera’s heroics in the bottom of the inning.
St. Louis defeated Cincinnati 4 – 2 earlier in the evening, reducing its magic number to one. The Dodgers’ only hope is to win the final two games against the Giants while the Reds defeat the Cardinals in the final two games of the season. That would leave the Dodgers and Cardinals with identical 87 – 75 records and force a one-game playoff between the two teams to determine which goes on to another one game playoff against the Atlanta Braves, who won the National League’s Wild Card #1.