Following the Dodgers and Exploring The Team’s Past
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With the glitz and glam of Opening Day over, tomorrow will be back to the regular ball games. The Dodgers will have their second of three games with the Giants. Derek Lowe is set to face the young Matt Cain at 7:10 PM.
In case you haven’t heard, which is hard to imagine considering Penny’s potent performance and the rest of the team at the plate to back him up, the Dodgers won their Opening Day game by shutting out the Giants, 5-0.
Penny went a strong six and 2/3 innings, retiring 13 batters before giving up only four hits. Proctor pitched 1/3 after Penny to close out the seventh. Joe Beimel and closer Saito then sealed the shutout victory, with the only hit coming off of Beimel in the eighth.
Jeff Kent proved he is healthy and at full strength when he belted a 2-run shot in his first at-bat. Furcal went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Kemp, Hu, Jones, Loney and DeWitt also logged hits for the team. Jones’ hit was his first as a Dodger, and DeWitt’s was his first of the majors (coming in his first at-bat).
More to Love about today’s Opening Day victory….
*This marks the beginning of a season-long celebration in honor of the Dodgers’ 50 years in LA.
*Penny contributes with more than pitching. He logged an RBI after a bobbled pop-up from Giants second baseman Ray Durham
*56,000 in attendance-ties the record for a regular season game at Dodger Stadium.
*A Joe Torre victory in a uniform without pinstripes.
Spring training is officially behind us as focus shifts now to the regular season, with the Dodgers’ Opening Day tomorrow at 1:10pm against the Giants.
Opening Day lineup:
1 Rafael Furcal, SS
2 Andre Ethier, LF
3 Matt Kemp, RF
4 Jeff Kent, 2B
5 Andruw Jones, CF
6 Russell Martin, C
7 James Loney, 1B
8 Blake DeWitt, 3B
9 Brad Penny, SP
Notice there’s no Juan Pierre. Torre recently announced that Ethier won the battle for the leftfield position.
This start is Penny’s first Opening Day nod, and he will be facing Giants ace Barry Zito.
The Dodgers split their last two spring training games with Boston over the weekend.
Saturday night’s game was a 4-7 loss to the Red Sox in front of a record crowd of 115,300 at Memorial Coliseum. Newly official fifth starter Esteban Loaiza took the loss after giving up five runs, though three were unearned due to third baseman Blake DeWitt’s throwing error. At the plate, runs were scored off of homers from James Loney and Blake DeWitt.
The Dodgers finished off their spring with an 8-0 win on Sunday. Hiroki Kuroda threw an impressive four hitless innings with six strikeouts. Boston’s first hit wasn’t until the eighth inning by Bobby Kielty, and he was left stranded as Clayton Kershaw and the bullpen finished the shutout that Kuroda started. Ethier and Kent both had RBI singles.
This final win leaves the Dodgers with a final record of 11-18-4 for the spring.
The Dodgers return to their old grand stage at LA’s Memorial Coliseum tonight to take on the Red Sox at 7:10 PM in front of an anticipated crowd of about 115,000.
In Friday’s game, Billingsley threw five stellar innings, giving up only one run on two hits with seven strikeouts. Joe Beimel, Ramon Trancoso, Scott Proctor, and Jonathan Broxton all came out of the bullpen to combine for four scoreless innings.
At the plate, Furcal went 3-4, and the go-ahead runs came in the eighth when Ethier scored off Mark Sweeney’s double who then scored off James Loney’s base hit.
Jeff Kent logged a double, which is more significant considering he hasn’t played a game since March 4. He will be starting on Opening Day if he doesn’t suffer further pain or strain in his hamstring before then.
The Freeway “Series” matchup with the Angels ended in the 10th with a 2-2 tie.
At the plate, Chin-lung Hu (playing second) recorded two hits and one RBI. Furcal added two more hits to drive his spring average up to a stellar .365. James Loney’s double in the eighth drove in the tying run. On a sour note, Juan Pierre’s lack of offensive production (going 0-5 with 6 left on base) does not improve his strive to earn the starting position at left field. His competition, Ethier, went 1-4 and made a spectacular leaping catch at the outfield wall as well as throwing out two runners, one being a potential tying run at the plate in the eighth inning.
Lowe started on the mound and looked decent, pitching three innings and giving up two runs off a Guerrero homer. We then got a taste of our bullpen, all of whom united to keep the Angels’ run total to two. The best news is that closer Saito pitched an inning, which gives hope that he will be near full strength and availability for Opening Day relief.
Even more problems linger in regards to the infield, though. Tony Abreu, who was likely to be the replacement at 3rd base, will be starting the season on the DL. This will likely result in the young Blake DeWitt manning third and probably Chin-lung Hu at second until Kent can fully recover.
The anticipated meeting on Thursday with Torre and the management to make roster moves only lead to the release of veteran left-hander Mike Meyers and the optioning of right-hander Yhency Brazoban to Double-A Jacksonville.
Next up: The Dodgers return to their home park to take on the Red Sox. Billingsley gets the nod and will be facing Bartolo Colon at the 7:40 PM start.
2008 NL West Champtions.
Best bullpen in the NL West.
Best manager in the NL West.
A projected win total of 90-94 games.
Best stadium in NL West: Dodger Stadium.
All of these gems for the Dodgers were chosen by fans from a fun NL West poll at ESPN.com.
It may be far-fetched, considering the Dodgers have yet to play their first game of the regular season. But it shows the hopeful potential and the strong fan support that the team has in the sports nation.
The team has returned to LA after their Cactus League games in Arizona. Yet, the unanswered questions surrounding the Opening Day roster have followed Torre and the team home.
An injury-plagued infield will likely result in an unfamiliar Opening Day infield line-up. Nomar will almost indefinitely be starting the season on the disabled list. Andy LaRoche (and his ligament-torn thumb) will be out until at least May. The only hopeful possibility if Jeff Kent, who has shown progress in recent days, yet the decision on whether he will start the season on the field on or the disabled list is still wary. Tony Abreu is a definite replacement, yet his place at second or third is dependent upon Kent’s availability at second. Chin-lung Hu and Blake DeWitt are likely to be called upon to fill-in until the gimpy starting infielders can recover.
The outfield also remains a mystery, but for good reason – an excess of talented outfielders lead by Andruw Jones. Veteran Juan Pierre lost his centerfield starting position when the Dodgers acquired Jones from Atlanta. Pierre is likely to start in left, but hold on …. Andre Ethier’s Cactus League performance – which includes six NL leading homers – may nudge Pierre over to right field. Returning starter Matt Kemp is no lock in right field, and he may find himself competing with Ethier and Pierre for playing time. Experience tells us that Torre is no fan of platooning players, so expect to see a consistent starting outfield lineup emerge early in the season.
Although the Dodgers are blessed with a deep starting rotation, Torre’s relievers make him yearn for old days of complete-game pitching. The unattractive ERA’s of the relievers in spring training caused Torre to waste no time in releasing veteran Rudy Seanez before returning to LA. Closer Takashi Saito also faced a tough spring training and has reported soreness in his lower body. Saito’s Opening Day availability remains in doubt. For now, at least, Torre needs to call upon his starters to carry the load on the mound, which will be tough on the starters and may overextend their arms far too early in the season.
Torre has scheduled a meeting on Thursday to discuss these and other roster issues. The team will then travel to Anaheim on Thursday night to take on the Angels before wrapping up their spring-fling with three games against the Red Sox.
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