Balls were bobbled and lost in the sun. Bloopers fell in. Line drives ricocheted off walls. And before the game was two innings old, the Dodgers were down 8-0 to the Giants. The party was over in a hurry.
Not too surprisingly the Dodgers went on to lose their home opener Friday afternoon to the San Francisco Giants before a sellout crowd of 53,493 at Dodger Stadium. Hyun-Jin Ryu, who had looked like a budding ace in his first two starts, was rough up early by San Francisco. He lasted only two innings and was charged with all eight runs.
The Dodgers' bullpen then turned in a brilliant effort, holding the Giants without a run or hit over the final seven innings.
Top of ninth: Dodgers reliever Jamey Wright took over for Chris Withrow to start the inning. In his two innings of work Friday, Withrow was again very impressive. He struck out four and did not allow a hit or a walk. Wright finished up the outstanding day for the bullpen, retiring the Giants in order. They never did get another hit after the second, the Dodgers' bullpen throwing seven hitless, scoreless innings. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Bottom of eighth: Right-hander Jean Machi took over on the mound for the Giants and retired the Dodgers in order for the first time since the first inning. He struck out Juan Uribe, got A.J. Ellis to line out to short and Dee Gordon to line out to second. The Dodgers are down to their last three outs. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Top of eighth: Chris Withrow continued the bullpen's dominating day for the Dodgers. He again retired the Giants in order, including two on strikeouts. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Bottom of seventh: Not the most notable half inning, aside of the Dodgers' first play review, and that didn't go well. Hanley Ramirez singled and stole second to lead off the inning. Anyway, that's what umpire Marty Foster ruled. It was another close play and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy came out to argue and he challenged the call. Umpires agreed to the review and the call was overturned. Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier then each struck out. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Top of seventh: Brandon League called it a day, after two encouraging innings. League was pretty sharp for someone making his first appearance of the season in a team's sixth game. League did not allow a hit, walking one and striking out three. He looked a lot more like the guy who used to be a closer. Really. Chris Withrow took over for League, who continued the belated shutdown of the Giants, who haven't had a hit since the second inning. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Bottom of sixth: They keep telling and telling Dee Gordon he needs to bunt more to take advantage of his great speed. He may have been listening. He led off the bottom of the inning with a perfect bunt single to third. And then again did what he does, stealing second and advancing to third when catcher Buster Posey's throw sailed into center field. Alas, he was left there after pinch-hitter Justin Turner struck out and right-handed reliever Juan Gutierrez came in to strike out Matt Kemp. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Top of sixth: They sent Brandon League for a second inning of work, and that turned out OK too. If only the Dodgers could have those first two innings back. Angel Pagan made it look questionable when he led off the inning with a walk, but A.J. Ellis threw him out attempting to steal. It was a very close play and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy came out to argue, but apparently did not attempt to push for review. League got the next two outs, striking out Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval to end the inning. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Bottom of fifth: Matt Kemp was activated Friday but wasn't supposed to start, which did not exactly make him happy. Then Yasiel Puig pulled his latest immaturity bit by showing up late, and suddenly Kemp was in the lineup. He had to feel a tad better about it all when he followed Carl Crawford's single and stealing of second with a line-drive double to center to score the Dodgers' third run. When Hanley Ramirez singled him to third, that was the day for Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong went four-plus innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. He struck out four. Left-hander David Huff relieved Vogelsong, striking out Adrian Gonzalez, but Andre Ethier singled up the middle to score Kemp. San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a diving catch on a Juan Uribe line drive to save a run, before A.J. Ellis looked at a third strike. Giants 8, Dodgers 4.
Top of fifth: Brandon League lives. He not only lives, he had to get a little confidence boost from his first outing of the season. League struggled last season and during the spring, but took over to start the fifth and retired the Giants in order. Manager Don Mattingly should probably take him out after the lone inning, just so he can feel good about himself. The Dodgers have now retired 10 consecutive Giants. Giants 8, Dodgers 2.
Bottom of fourth: Turns out, the Dodgers won’t be shut out, either. Adrian Gonzalez led off the bottom of the inning with his first home run of the season. The opposite-field shot just carried over the fence beyond the left-field scoreboard. Andre Ethier liked the idea so much, he followed with his own solo homer. There was little doubt about this one, Ethier pulling the pitch and driving it out right. It marked the Dodgers’ first back-to-back homers of the season. Juan Uribe followed with a double off the center-field wall, but he was stranded at third. At least they pushed Ryan Vogelsong up to 81 pitches. Giants 8, Dodgers 2.
Top of fourth: See, it isn’t that hard. Jose Dominguez has restored order, if a little late for the Dodgers. Dominguez retired the side in order again in the fourth. He has three strikeouts in his two innings, the hard-throwing right-hander overpowering the Giants. Matt Kemp, who struggled chasing a ball down to the wall in the second, tracked a drive to the warning track off the bat of Michael Morse. Giants 8, Dodgers 0.
Bottom of third: Well, the Dodgers won’t be the victims of a no-hitter. Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the inning with a clean single to left. And then did what Dee does, stole second. He remained there when right-hander Jose Dominguez was overmatched and struck out by Ryan Vogelsong. Carl Crawford lined out to left, and after Matt Kemp walked, Hanley Ramirez was caught looking at a third strike. Hey, at least they had a couple of base runners. Giants 8, Dodgers 0.
Top of the third: And that’s it for Hyun-Jin Ryu. He was replaced by Jose Dominguez to start the third. In his two innings of work, Ryu – who threw 12 scoreless innings in his first two starts – was charged with eight runs (six earned), on eight hits and three walks (one intentional). He struck out two. Dominguez then retired the side in order. Giants 8, Dodgers 0.
Bottom of second: Adrian Gonzalez grounds out to start the inning before Andre Ethier reaches base on a walk. Ethier is stranded at first after Juan Uribe pops out to left field and A.J. Ellis strikes out. Giants 8, Dodgers 0.
Top of second: The carnage continues, thanks to a throwing error by shortstop Hanley Ramirez. He throws away Buster Posey's grounder to open the inning, then. after Ryu gets two quick outs, the Giants score twice on a double by Brandon Hicks and a single by Joaquin Arias. Ryu strikes out Ryan Vogelsong to end the inning. Giants 8, Dodgers 0.
Bottom of first: A quick three up, three down for the Dodgers as Vogelsong retires Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez effortlessly. Giants 6, Dodgers 0.
Top of first: After getting two quick outs, Dodgers starter Hyun-jin Ryu walks Pablo Sandoval, who is doubled to third by Buster Posey. They both score when Michael Morse singles to center to score Sandoval and Posey. Morse scores on Brandon Belt's single and Belt goes to third on Brandon Hicks' double, which brings pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to the mound to settle Ryu. Joaquin Arias is intentionally walked to load the bases. Pitcher Ryan Vogelsong, who is supposed to be an easy out, singles to score two. 5-0 Giants. Angel Pagan singles, scoring Arias. 6-0 Giants. Hunter Pence walks. Bases are loaded. Sandoval lines to right and the inning is mercifully over. And the Dodgers haven't even come to the plate yet!
As pregame ceremonies go, you could safely say the fans got their money’s worth. It went on and on.
They introduced each Dodger – for the fifth time in six games – and these days as they go down the line to greet each player they don’t shake hands or even high-five, but do fists. By the time Dee Gordon was finally introduced, those had to be some sore fists.
To throw out the first pitch they brought in legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, introduced by the guest public address announcer and his former partner, Ross Porter. It was actually pretty cool.
Scully was escorted to the mound by Magic Johnson. Then Scully’s grandchildren carried the Dodgers’ batting circle, ultimately placing it right in front of the plate for Scully’s first pitch.
From the dugout and wearing their old jerseys came Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Monday, Tommy Davis, Maury Wills, Don Newcombe, Tommy Lasorda – stretching every bit of his polyester jersey – and finally, Sandy Koufax.
Koufax kneeled at the plate and Scully actually placed the ball in his glove. There would be no Don Baylor incidents today.
1:02 p.m. update: The fireworks are starting already at the Dodgers' home opener, with the team removing Yasiel Puig from the starting lineup for arriving late. As Times Dodgers blogger Steve Dilbeck wrote:
"The Dodgers removed Yasiel Puig from the starting lineup for their home opener on Friday after he still had not arrived at the ballpark when the Dodgers took the field for batting practice. He showed up on the field about halfway through it, at almost 10:30 a.m.
The Dodgers weren't going to start the newly activated Matt Kemp for Friday’s home opener against the Giants, but that plan has been changed, thanks to Puig’s latest brain cramp.
This is the second time in Puig’s short career that he has been benched for arriving late. Add his two reckless driving arrests, the mistakes running the bases, getting pulled in the middle of a game for not being set defensively and a recent clubhouse meeting over his mental mistakes, and he remains a talented outfielder not exactly charging into maturity."
The Dodgers, who opened the season 4-1, putting them in first place in the NL West, play their home opener today at 1 p.m. against the team that opened the season 3-1: their arch rival, the San Francisco Giants.
However, it hasn't been all peanuts and Cracker Jack for the boys in blue. Staff ace (and best pitcher in baseball) Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list with a bad back, and setup man Brian Wilson is on the DL with an irritated nerve in his pitching elbow.
Then, there is the TV controversy. The Dodgers formed their own TV network, but as of now it is only being carried by Time Warner Cable, meaning about 70% of households in the L.A. area can't watch Dodgers games, including today's, on TV.
Well, if you are shut out from watching today's game, then follow along with us as we bring you all the spectacle and game action from the home opener, brought to you by our team at Dodger Stadium: Bill Plaschke, Dylan Hernandez, Steve Dilbeck and Mike Hiserman.