SYDNEY, Australia — For the Dodgers, this was an opening day that didn't feel like an opening day.
They were on the other side of the planet, in a time zone 18 hours ahead of home. The pregame ceremony didn't include fireworks or the customary unfurling of a giant American flag. The game was played at night, in a converted cricket stadium, in front of 38,266 fans who were often loud but clearly more interested in foul balls than home runs.
"It feels more festive," catcher
About the only visual reminder that this game at Sydney Cricket Ground counted was in how
Kershaw went 62/3 innings in the Dodgers' 3-1 victory over the
He remained undefeated in his four career opening-day starts, as
There were reasons to be uncertain about Kershaw coming into the game, starting with the fact that he pitched a career-high 259 innings last season. The Dodgers were concerned enough about his workload that they were considering not using him in this series until
"You give a caveat like a win or a loss at the end of the game and you put that on the line, he's a different person," Ellis said. "His competitiveness will play through, his game management skills will play through. He's pitching to win the game and he'll find a way to get it done with whatever stuff he has that night."
Kershaw encountered trouble in the first inning, when he gave up consecutive one-out singles to
"It felt good to get out of that inning," Kershaw said. "That first inning of the first game of the year, it feels to get that one under your belt."
Kershaw relied heavily on his slider.
"This team is super aggressive, a good fastball-hitting team," he explained.
By the time Kershaw was charged with a run in the sixth inning, the Dodgers had scored three times.
The stadium was a factor. Almost anything hit in the air was knocked down by the winds.
Van Slyke thought his double was a home run and his home run a foul ball.
When he drove the ball to left field in the second inning, Van Slyke had no doubt where it was headed, so much so that he high-fived first base coach Davey Lopes. Then he looked up.
"The ball was coming in," Van Slyke said.
Van Slyke wasn't the only player confused. Trumbo, the Diamondbacks' new left fielder, scaled the fence, only to see the ball hit low on the wall and bounce back toward the infield.
Van Slyke's double got
Van Slyke connected with another pitch from Diamondbacks starter
"I didn't think that had a chance to go out," Van Slyke said.
Ellis smiled as he recalled the home run.
"Scott found the jet stream," Ellis said.
What the Australian crowd reacted to also made the Dodgers smile.
"They really love foul balls, I noticed," Kershaw said.
Van Slyke understood.
"Souvenirs," Van Slyke said. "People love souvenirs."
There was something else Van Slyke observed.
"I noticed a lot more people here have beers in their hands," he said.