Dodgers power ahead on much needed late-game rally after slow start to Seoul Series

2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres
2024 Seoul Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres / Chung Sung-Jun/GettyImages

Going into the eighth inning of the Dodgers' first game of the season, it looked like the story of the game would be missed opportunities. The Dodgers, down 2-1 to the Padres, were hitless with men in scoring position through seven. They even loaded the bases against Yu Darvish in the top of the third after an Ohtani single, steal, then back-to-back walks to Freddie Freeman and Will Smith, but Max Muncy couldn't come in clutch to score any of the baserunners.

Their first and — until the eighth — only run came off of a Jason Heyward sac fly. Part of the problem may have been the Gocheok Sky Dome itself — KBO batters averaged less than one home run a game there in 2023 — but the Dodgers also just didn't seem to have a good handle on the Opening Day pressure.

Thankfully, LA's hitters nudged fans out of their stupor by rallying in the eighth. Muncy led off with a walk, Teoscar Hernández singled, then Kiké Hernández, who replaced Jason Heyward in the bottom of the fifth, scored Muncy on a sac fly to tie the game.

It unleashed a brief torrent of LA runs, finally injecting some excitement into Dodgers Opening Day.

Dodgers shake off Opening Day nerves to put up a four-spot in the eighth inning of Seoul Series Game 1

After the (Kiké) Hernández RBI sac fly, Gavin Lux came up and capitalized on a rather unfortunate freak incident for the Padres. He hit a grounder to first baseman Jake Cronenworth, who could've made an easy play for at least the second out — if only his glove didn't break. The ball went straight through the webbing of his glove and shot into the outfield, and Cronenworth was slapped with an error while (Teoscar) Hernández scored.

Then came Mookie Betts and Shohei Ohtani to do exactly what they're at the top of the order to do. Betts singled to drive in James Outman on the first proper run of the game, then Ohtani came up to score Lux on another single, marking the seventh hit and seventh single for the Dodgers. The inning ended on a weird note, when Freddie Freeman flew out to center field and Ohtani was doubled up after leaving first early, but the Dodgers at least the Dodgers had already put up a comfortable lead.

The top of the ninth was marked by more missed opportunities by the Dodgers — they loaded the bases before Lux flew out to end the inning — but the work the lineup did in the previous inning was enough to change what could've been a sad narrative for Opening Day. Despite a somewhat wonky, powerless start to the season, the Dodgers still ended up doing exactly what they're supposed to: winning.