Dodgers display lineup depth in five-run inning, beat Rockies on opening day
DENVER — On the first day of the season, Kyle Freeland became the Dodgers’ first victim.
For three innings Friday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies left-hander was cruising through his opening day start against the Dodgers’ star-studded lineup.
He had six strikeouts. He had stranded each of the first four runners who reached base. And despite a single from Will Smith and a double from Chris Taylor in the top of the fourth, Freeland was one strike away from getting through another inning unscathed.
But then the Dodgers’ offense awoke from its winter slumber, roaring to life for the first time — and what is certain to be far from the last — this season.
Dodgers defeat Rockies after allowing a run in the ninth
Bottom of the ninth: Closer Craig Kimbrel overcame a shaky Dodgers debut to preserve a 5-3 season-opening win for the Dodgers.
Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon hit a run-scoring double down the right-field line off Kimbrel to score Elias Diaz, who reached base on a one-out double off the center field wall. Kimbrel then struck out Kris Bryant on three pitches to end the game.
The Dodgers have big expectations for Kimbrel, who was acquired in a trade last week with the Chicago White Sox. Here’s five ways Kimbrel improves the Dodgers’ roster:
Kimbrel trade bolsters Dodgers’ pitching, balances the roster
Top of ninth: The Dodgers went down in order again, with Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence getting Max Muncy to whiff on a 82-mph slider for the third out.
The Dodgers continue their three-game series against the Rockies on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. PDT.
⚾ Final score: Dodgers 5, Rockies 3
Dodgers hold three-run lead going into the ninth inning
Top of eighth: Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence oversaw a 1-2-3 inning for the Rockies, with Freddie Freeman not pleased with home plate umpire Mark Wegner after being called out on strikes.
Freeman is one for three with a run scored and two strikeouts in his Dodgers debut. The story behind Freeman’s decision to sign with the Dodgers is worth your time:
The inside story of how the Dodgers lured Freddie Freeman home
Bottom of eighth: Daniel Hudson became the fourth Dodgers pitcher of the game, promptly striking out Brendan Rodgers, Ryan McMahon and Connor Joe to send the game into the ninth inning.
⚾End of the eighth: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
Blake Treinen retires the Rockies in order in the seventh
Bottom of the seventh: Blake Treinen relieved Brusdar Graterol, retiring the Rockies in order as part of a five-pitch 2022 debut for the slider specialist.
Treinen’s signature pitch was the subject of this Jack Harris story looking at what fueled the right-hander’s success in 2021:
‘That slider is death’: Why Treinen might be too good to be a closer
Top of the seventh: Will Smith, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger were retired in order.
⚾ End of the seventh inning: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
Dodgers head into the seventh inning with a 5-2 lead
Top of the sixth: Freddie Freeman opened the inning with a single for his first hit as a Dodger. Rockies reliever Ashton Goudeau then struck out Trea Turner and Justin Turner before Max Muncy flied out for the final out.
Freeman is happy to be with the Dodgers and it appears the feeling is mutual for one his former Atlanta Braves teammates. Here’s what Ronald Acuña Jr. had to say about the All-Star first baseman leaving Atlanta for L.A.:
Acuña Jr. on what he’ll miss about Freeman: ‘Nothing’
Bottom of the sixth: Brusdar Graterol walked Randal Grichuk, but retired the other three batters he faced in his first action of 2022.
Graterol’s exact role in the Dodgers’ bullpen will be something to watch in the days and weeks ahead. Jack Harris breaks down some of the biggest questions facing the Dodgers heading into the season:
Five opening-day questions for the Dodgers
⚾ End of the sixth inning: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
Walker Buehler gets out of two-out jam in the fifth
Top of the fifth: The Dodgers missed out on a chance to pad their lead when Mookie Betts flied out to deep center field with the bases loaded against Rockies reliever Ashton Goudeau.
Overall, it was another encouraging inning for the Dodgers at the plate, but Cody Bellinger hasn’t fared well in his first three at-bats, going 0 for 3 so far. Bellinger is hoping to rediscover the swing that powered him to the NL MVP award in 2019 after a disappointing 2021 campaign:
Bellinger slumping again as he searches to rediscover his swing
Bottom of fifth: Walker Buehler quickly defused a jam by striking out C.J. Cron with runners on the corners to end the inning. Colorado’s Kris Bryant drilled a 1-0 pitch off the warning track in straight-away center for an easy, two-out double before Brendan Rodgers reached base when a scorcher hit to short was too much for Trea Turner to handle. Both were left stranded when Buehler fooled Cron with a 90-mph cutter.
Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol took over for Buehler on the mound in the sixth inning. Buehler’s first start of the season was pretty solid: He allowed two earned runs, four hits, walked two and struck out five over five innings.
⚾ End of the fifth inning: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
Dodgers jump into the lead with two-out rally in fourth inning
Top of the fourth: Gavin Lux hit a two-out, two-RBI single and Mookie Betts and Trea Turner each drove in runs to help give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead.
After being held to just one hit over the first 14 at-bats of the game, Will Smith started the surge with a single to center before Chris Taylor doubled to right. Lux then drove in both of them with a grounder to center before Betts powered line drive into left. Lux then turned on the afterburners and scored on Betts’ double into the left-field corner.
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland then walked Freddie Freeman, ending his day on the mound in abrupt fashion. In a matter of minutes, Freeland’s afternoon went from rosy to ugly, showcasing the transformative power of a Dodgers lineup that might end up being among the best ever in baseball. Lux figures to play a big part of the Dodgers’ success, especially at the bottom of the batting order:
After ‘crash course’ in the outfield, Lux preparing for utility role
Tyler Kinley took over in relief for the Rockies and immediately allowed a run-scoring single to Turner, allowing Betts to score. A wild pitch against Justin Turner on the next at-bat opened the way for Freeman to score the Dodgers’ final run of the inning.
Bottom of the fourth: Connor Joe drew a four-pitch walk off Walker Buehler, but was left stranded at second when Randal Grichuk and Elias Diaz each grounded out.
⚾ End of the fourth inning: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
Walker Buehler retires the Rockies in order
Bottom of the third: Walker Buehler retires the Rockies in order on 10 pitches. It was the strongest inning of the game, so far, for Buehler, who is hoping to raise his game this season:
‘He’s just that talented’: Stories from Buehler’s rise
Top of the third: Gavin Lux and Freddie Freeman are left stranded when Rockies starter Kyle Freeland strikes out Trea Turner and gets Justin Turner to line out to short to end the inning.
Freeland has struck out Mookie Betts twice in two at-bats and has keep held the daunted Dodgers lineup to one hit so far. Betts is looking for a big 2022 season after injuries hampered his 2021 campaign. Jack Harris takes a look at where Betts stands heading into the season:
With ‘frustrating’ hip issue healed, Betts is ‘ready to go’ this spring
⚾ End of third inning: Rockies 2, Dodgers 0
Rockies jump out to 2-0 lead in the second inning
Bottom of the second: Colorado’s Randal Grichuk and Jose Iglesias each drove in runs off Dodgers started Walker Buehler to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Connor Joe finished off a strong at-bat against Buehler with a blooper that was just a bit too high for Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux to reach. Ryan McMahon, who hit a leadoff double that plunked the bottom of the wall in left field, advanced to third on Joe’s hit. Grichuk plated McMahon on sharp liner to first before Iglesias singled on a drive to center field to score Joe.
How are the Rockies supposed to fair this season? Staff writer Jorge Castillo tries to answer that question and many more:
NL West preview: Can anyone stop the Dodgers from winning the division?
Top of the second: Max Muncy, who had a career high 36 home runs last season, picked up the Dodgers’ first hit of the season on an up-the-middle single. Muncy’s left elbow injury, which he sustained in the final game of the 2021 regular season, was a concern for the Dodgers in offseason, but he appears to be back in regular form.
Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to make up for lost time rehabbing elbow
Muncy was left stranded on base when Rockies starter Kyle Freeland struck out Will Smith and Chris Taylor before Cody Bellinger grounded out on a soft dribbler fielded by catcher Elias Diaz.
⚾ End of second inning: Rockies 2, Dodgers 0
Rockies starter Kyle Freeland not intimidated by the Dodgers
Bottom of the first inning: Dodgers starter Walker Buehler opened his 2022 season by walking Rockies No. 2 hitter Kris Bryant, but settled down from there, striking out Brendan Rodgers and getting C.J. Cron to line out to left field.
Top of the first: Kyle Freeland doesn’t seem too flustered about facing the Dodgers’ formidable lineup on opening day.
The Colorado Rockies starting pitcher struck out Freddie Freeman on the first regular-season at-bat of the first baseman’s Dodgers tenure and got Trea Turner and Justin Turner to line out.
If Freeland can keep it up, he’ll achieve something most pundits wouldn’t think possible. Of course, getting three outs is a lot different than 27.
Here’s the Dodgers’ likely opening day lineup. Is it the most formidable ever?
Oh, and newly minted Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson got to throw out the game’s first pitch.
⚾ End of first inning: Dodgers 0, Rockies 0
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw isn’t starting until Wednesday. Here’s why
DENVER — Clayton Kershaw isn’t injured, and didn’t have any sort of late-spring setback.
Instead, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts offered a simple explanation for why the three-time Cy Young Award winner won’t make his season debut until the team’s fifth game next Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins.
The Dodgers wanted the left-hander to get as built up as possible for his first start of the year.
Prior to this season, Kershaw had been the Dodgers opening day starter every year when healthy since 2011. He’d never before been slotted lower than fourth in a season-opening rotation.
Cody Bellinger ‘in a good spot’ with his swing progress
PHOENIX — If not for the lockout, the Dodgers would have been at Chavez Ravine on Thursday, opening the regular season against the Colorado Rockies.
Instead, the team was still in Arizona, trying to work through the kinks of a shortened spring training that manager Dave Roberts acknowledged has been a mixed bag of performances.
“Individually, there have been some guys that have had good camps. But overall, it just needs to get better. We’ll see where we’re at. The season isn’t going to wait for us.”
Dodgers’ rotation has plenty of talent. But will a lack of depth haunt them in 2022?
Dave Roberts said he believes the Dodgers could have one of the best rotations in baseball.
“I’d put us somewhere in the top 10,” he said on “The Dan Patrick Show” last month.
It’s also the group that worries the seventh-year manager the most.
“I think probably starting pitching depth,” Roberts told reporters on the last day of spring training in Arizona, when asked what part of the team concerns him when he unwinds every night. “I think that’s probably the thing that occupies my mind.”
For all the talent the Dodgers have amassed in their collection of starting pitchers, they are lacking the proven depth they’ve grown accustomed to in recent years. The ceiling is as high as ever for the group, but the floor also seems precariously low.
Dodgers’ TV broadcaster Joe Davis will call the World Series for Fox
Over the years, Joe Buck would joke with Joe Davis about switching jobs. Buck would call Dodgers games. Davis would call the World Series. Davis laughed it off.
“I always thought, ‘Of course, Joe Buck’s going to be at Fox forever,’” Davis said. ‘“Joe Buck’s always going to be calling the World Series.’”
But Buck didn’t stay at Fox forever and he won’t call any more World Series. That job, officially as of Friday, belongs to Davis, the Dodgers’ TV play-by-play man. Davis was named to Fox’s lead play-by-play position upon Buck’s departure last month to ESPN. Hall of Famer John Smoltz will be his color analyst.
Do the Dodgers have the most formidable opening day lineup ever?
The greatest Dodgers lineup ever included a litany of legendary names.
Jackie Robinson and Duke Snider. Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges. Pee Wee Reese and Carl Furillo.
In 1953, that collection of All-Stars, MVPs and future Hall of Famers was the backbone of the highest-scoring team in Dodgers modern-era history (since 1901). They amassed 955 runs, averaging 6.16 per game. They had a .285 team batting average and almost as many walks as strikeouts. And they bludgeoned opponents en route to a National League pennant, their fourth in a seven-year stretch.
The 2022 Dodgers are hoping to do something similar. With their own star-studded lineup of such big names as Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner and Justin Turner, Will Smith and Max Muncy, this year’s roster looks primed to be the best in baseball — and perhaps one of the most prolific offensive squads ever assembled.
Remember the 1990s Braves? Dodgers must win World Series to avoid comparison
This is getting silly. This is getting old.
The Dodgers enter the 2022 season with surely the best team in baseball, obviously one of the best in baseball history, and seemingly destined for a World Series title.
Yet the Dodgers enter the 2022 season as a team on the ropes.
They have made the playoffs nine consecutive years, yet during that time they have won only one title, in a 60-game season, in a World Series played on a neutral field.
That is not a dynasty. That is not history. That is not enough.
How many more times can a team tease its city with April dreams that become October nightmares? How often can glowing spring predictions continue to devolve into dull autumn realities? How many more seasons can a generous ownership group and skilled front office fill the dugout with greatness that begets frustration, that begets failure?
Five ways the Craig Kimbrel trade bolsters Dodgers’ pitching, balances the roster
PHOENIX — For a blockbuster move, the Dodgers’ acquisition of Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago White Sox for AJ Pollock came down to a simple calculation by the front office.
The Dodgers lineup was loaded, but its pitching staff was a little thin.
Pollock had become one of the team’s best hitters the last two seasons, and sending him to the White Sox comes with risks. But to the Dodgers decision-makers, the chance to add a proven closer such as Kimbrel — and balance out the roster in the process — was too valuable to forego.
“As much as the players, clubhouse, manager, staff, the front office loves AJ, we felt like it was a way to balance up the roster, add to our pitching depth,” general manager Brandon Gomes said. “We thought it was the right thing for the team in totality.”
Freddie Freeman ‘done’ with addressing Ronald Acuña Jr.’s ‘nothing’ comment
DENVER — Freddie Freeman declined on Friday morning to further discuss comments his former Atlanta Braves teammate Ronald Acuña Jr. made this week about the two supposedly clashing at times early in Acuña’s career.
Freeman addressed the situation in a Thursday interview with MLB Network, saying he didn’t view their relationship having “any friction or clashes or anything like that. I loved Ronald. I still love Ronald. I’m gonna miss Ronald. My family is gonna miss Ronald.”
Freeman told reporters Friday he had not spoken to Acuña this week, didn’t elaborate further on his reaction to Acuña’s remarks.
“I spoke about it yesterday,” Freeman said, referencing his MLB Network interview. “So I’m done. We’re gonna move forward.”
Dodgers’ opening day lineup vs. Colorado Rockies
Here’s the first batting lineup of the season for the Dodgers as they look to open the season with a win over the Colorado Rockies. Walker Buehler will be on the mound for the Dodgers.
Kyle Freeman will get the start today for the Colorado Rockies:
After 42 years and a COVID delay, Dodger Stadium readies for All-Star moment
Chub Feeney stood before the team for his annual rah-rah speech in the home clubhouse at Dodger Stadium. It was July 1980. The National League All-Stars were about to defend their eight-game winning streak against their American League counterparts, and Feeney badly wanted to continue the trivial dominance.
Feeney was the National League’s president. Winning that game mattered to him and it mattered to players in the room back when the summer showcase was more than just a lighthearted, mic’d-up scrimmage.
“The pride took over,” Steve Garvey said.
Garvey was the National League’s starting first baseman and one of six Dodgers selected to the team that year. He was selected most valuable player in his first All-Star appearance in 1974. He appeared in 10 games over his career and went undefeated. But nothing compared to suiting up in Los Angeles in 1980.
Guaranteed World Series winners? Dodgers still have plenty of questions to answer
Dave Roberts grinned as he heard the names read to him.
At the top of the lineup: Betts, Freeman, Turner.
Further down the order: Smith, Turner, Muncy, Bellinger.
“Man,” the manager said, “that’s a good lineup.”
The Dodgers will need it to be this season.
At the start of a 2022 season that begins with World Series expectations and plenty of unknowns after an offseason of change, this much is clear about the Dodgers: They have arguably the best lineup in baseball and the potential to put up all-time offensive numbers. Yet they also have myriad questions on their pitching staff, making their performance at the plate all the more critical to their championship chances.
NL West preview: Can anyone stop the Dodgers from winning the division?
PHOENIX — The question, tinged with incredulity, surfaced in every corner of the Major League Baseball universe last month once the Dodgers reinforced a stacked lineup with Freddie Freeman: How many games will those plucky Dodgers win in 2022?
The consensus is somewhere in the triple digits. A National League West title is viewed as a formality. The other four teams, going by the prognostications, are playing for second place behind the club with the highest payroll in the majors.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts began spring training with measured public thoughts on his team’s chances. He noted they still have to play the games. Then, on March 24, he dumped the modesty and guaranteed the Dodgers will win the World Series on a national radio show. Hours later, he doubled down on his bluster to reporters.
It’s time for baseball to realign its divisions. Here’s what it should look like
In 2022, the Angels will play 19 games against the Texas Rangers and none against the San Diego Padres.
In 2023, the Angels will play 14 games against the Rangers and three against the Padres.
That’s progress. But the next frontier of schedule reform should involve radical realignment, in which divisions would be organized not by traditional league structure but by geography — more games against teams closer to home, with less travel for players and a more attractive home schedule for fans. The Angels and Padres might not have a rivalry now, but one could develop after playing each other year in and year out.
Dodgers’ opening day roster features only one real surprise
The Dodgers announced their opening day roster Thursday, unveiling a 28-man group with few surprises a day before their season opener.
As expected, the team will carry 16 pitchers and 12 position players when they begin the season against the Colorado Rockies on Friday.
Major League Baseball expanded rosters to 28 for the opening month of the season and removed limitations on the number of pitchers a team could carry.
The Dodgers position players include catchers Will Smith and Austin Barnes; infielders Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Gavin Lux, Edwin Ríos and Hanser Alberto; and outfielders Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor.
‘A team that has to prove something’: Five opening-day questions for the Dodgers
DENVER — For a team with such familiar ambitions, there were plenty of new sights sprinkled into the Dodgers’ finally tune-up games against the Angels this week at Chavez Ravine.
The No. 5 jersey that used to belong to Corey Seager was donned by a different face, as Freddie Freeman was serenaded by the home crowd for the first time after joining the team on a six-year, $162-million contract last month.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” blared from the speakers during the ninth inning, as recently acquired right-hander Craig Kimbrel officially replaced Kenley Jansen — and his “California Love” entry music — as the team’s new closer.
Breaking down how the Dodgers and Angels might do in 2022
The opening week of Major League Baseball season always brings a healthy dose of optimism for fans eager to see how the season will unfold for their respective teams.
There are plenty of talking points for the Dodgers and Angels as they embark on the 2022 MLB season. Dodgers beat writer Jack Harris (follow him here on Twitter) along with staff writer Jorge Castillo and columnist Dylan Hernández offer their thoughts and predictions on the Dodgers and Angels.
Dodgers betting preview: It’s World Series or bust
As a Cleveland native growing up with the 1990s Indians, I got to watch a lineup that had Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Kenny Lofton, Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, David Justice, Albert Belle, Sandy Alomar and many other great hitters. It’s no wonder I became such a huge baseball fan. I saw something special every day. The Dodgers have the potential to be extremely special. They have a great chance at eliminating the asterisk talk that dominates their 2020 World Series victory. They’ll be in the playoffs for the 10th straight year but have only that one World Series title in the span. Until they get one in a full season, they’ll continue to be scrutinized. So, they went out and got two of the best hitters in the world.
There are no excuses: When you spend this much money and get to the playoffs every year, it’s always World Series or bust. The regular season is just 162 games of spring training for the Dodgers. With 106 wins in each of the last two full seasons, it seems like they take it pretty seriously.
How to watch and stream the Dodgers on TV this season
Another Dodgers season is here, and that means 162 games and roughly 560 hours of unbridled baseball bliss for anyone who wants to catch the experience on TV or stream to their favorite devices.
Here’s a look at the 2022 TV schedule. Keep in mind some of the start times and TV/streaming platforms are subject to change.