Before today’s start, the thought of turning this into a battle of the bullpens was something most Dodger fans would have wanted to avoid. The Padres already had one of baseball’s best pens and that was before their recent acquisition of one of the game’s best closers, Craig Kimbrel. On paper, matching pens would have been difficult, but as the old saying goes “Games aren’t played on paper. They’re played on the field.”
Call to the Pen
Clayton Kershaw and James Shields were dealing for the most part through the first 4 innings before they began to tire. Kershaw, in an admittedly subpar performance, finished pitching 6 innings giving up 3 ERs with 9 Ks. Shields also pitched 6 innings giving up 2 ERs and 8 Ks.
Then the pens came into play. The Dodgers sent out Yimi Garcia in the 7th, Joel Peralta in the 8th, and closed up shop with Chris Hatcher getting the save in the 9th. Between the three of them they gave up 1 hit, 0 runs and struck out 3. They threw 35 pitches, 26 for strikes, and generated 2 double plays, and the Dodgers won today’s opener against the Padres 6-3.
Jimmy Rollins will get all the headlines with his 3-run homer in the 8th inning (as he should), but what should give Dodger fans a sense of relief was their strong pen performance as well as the aggressive play by both Joc Pederson and Howie Kendrick. The rookie went 1-for-3 with a SB, scored a run, and made a couple of great catches in center field. Kendrick went 2-for-4 with a lung-busting triple and turned a couple double plays including a spectacular turn as Padres left fielder Justin Upton slid hard into second base, taking out both of Kendrick’s legs.
One game down, 161 to go. I’m doing my best to keep things in perspective, but the updated bullpen, the new center fielder, and the two new additions to the infield looked sharp today both at the plate and in the field. They picked up Kershaw who wasn’t at his best, and now on we go to Tuesday night.