His first night game of the year, in Dodger Stadium against a lineup filled with regulars, brought out the best in Angels left-hander Hector Santiago, who gave up three hits in five shutout innings in a 5-1 Freeway Series victory Friday night.
“It's more realistic. You feel like the season is starting,” Santiago said. “There's a little more adrenaline.”
For one afternoon, as the sun faded over Petco Park and an unsettling spring temporarily became a memory, all was well for the Dodgers. Their hitters occupied the bases with stunning regularity. Clayton Kershaw quieted the bats of the Padres with mirthless efficiency. The distance between the two teams measured in double digits in an immaculate debut for Manager Dave Roberts.
The coming weeks and months will determine if this team can validate the vision of its front office, but in a 15-0 opening-day pounding of San Diego, there was little reason to quibble. Every member of the starting lineup recorded a hit. Chase Utley had three hits, Adrian Gonzalez provided three RBI singles and Justin Turner doubled twice. Yasiel Puig capped the onslaught by roping an RBI triple and scoring on a fielding error in the eighth.
The outburst obscured the dominance of the Dodgers' pitcher. Starting his sixth opener, Kershaw struck out nine and let only two runners on base in seven innings. He finished with as many hits at the plate (one) as he allowed the entire Padres lineup. He retired the final 13 men he faced.