Dodgers catch a break with Jake Cronenworth’s glove, rally for opening-day win vs. Padres

Shohei Ohtani high-fives Teoscar Hernández after the Dodgers win.
Designated hitter Shohei Ohtani congratulates Teoscar Hernández after the Dodgers defeated the Padres on Wednesday in Seoul.
(Lee Jin-man / Associated Press)

It lacked the flash and flair that fans had envisioned during a blockbuster, $1.2-billion offseason.

It was hardly a display of the club’s otherworldly roster talent.

Still, in the first game of their 2024 season, the Dodgers trudged their way to an opening-day, come-from-behind win at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, defeating the San Diego Padres 5-2 in the first South Korean regular season game in MLB history.

After squandering a string of early-game scoring chances that threatened to spoil the club debuts of Shohei Ohtani (who had two hits, an RBI and a steal) and Tyler Glasnow (who gave up two runs in five innings), the Dodgers flipped the script with a rather understated sequence of events that led to a four-run, go-ahead rally in the top of the eighth inning.


Trailing by one with the bases loaded and no outs, the Dodgers tied the score 2-2 on a Kiké Hernández sacrifice fly.

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They took their first lead of the day in the next at-bat, when a two-hopper from Gavin Lux went through — literally — the webbing of the glove of Padres first baseman Jake Cronenworth.

“I thought it just maybe tipped off at the end [of his glove],” Lux said. “But then I saw him running to the dugout [to fix it] and was like, ‘Oh s—.’ I’d rather be lucky right there than good.”

Mookie Betts and Ohtani effectively sealed the game from there with two softly hit RBI singles; the Dodgers’ first, and only, hits of the game with runners in scoring position (they finished two for 14).

And even though the inning ended on a base-running mistake by Ohtani, who misread a flyout and failed to retag second base before returning to first, it was enough to send the Dodgers to their third straight season opening win, and make up for the rather unremarkable seven innings that preceded it.

“I wouldn’t say tonight was a marquee game,” manager Dave Roberts acknowledged postgame. “But I thought Tyler kept us in the ballgame and the offense came alive at the end.”

Indeed, the build-up to first pitch contained the most memorable moments of Wednesday’s festivities.


A half-hour before the game, the Korean pop group Aespa provided a rollicking performance out in center field — with an army of backup dancers, an in-stadium laser show and light-up wristbands distributed to fans.

For the ceremonial first pitch, Chan Ho Park, the first Korean player in MLB history, took the mound in a half-Dodgers, half-Padres jersey, honoring his stints with both teams.

Then, two batters into the game, a moment four months (and $700 million) in the making finally came to fruition — with Ohtani serenaded by an adoring 15,952-person crowd in his first trip to the plate in a Dodgers uniform.

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“I’m not as nervous as when I’m hitting as when I’m pitching,” Ohtani said. “So I was able to be relaxed at the plate.”

For the next couple hours, the excitement ended there.

Padres starter Yu Darvish labored to keep the Dodgers off the board over the first three innings — he gave up two hits and walked three batters — before getting pulled in the fourth when an unearned run scored on a Jason Heyward sacrifice fly.

Glasnow, who signed a $136.5-million extension with the Dodgers this offseason following a trade from the Tampa Bay Rays, experienced his own bouts of inconsistency.


In the bottom of the third, a four-pitch leadoff walk and ensuing wild pitch put Glasnow in a jam, setting up Xander Bogaerts for an RBI single.

In the fourth, a pair of leadoff walks contributed to a bases-loaded situation that Glasnow only partially escaped. He gave up one run on a double-play grounder by Luis Campusano, before ending the inning with a strikeout of Tyler Wade.

“The whole day was kind of a grind,” said Glasnow, whose lack of feel for the curveball (he bounced several of them well in front of the plate) forced him to lean heavily on his slider (which accounted for all three of his strikeouts).

“I’m just glad it didn’t spiral out and [have us] give up a bunch of runs,” Glasnow added. “I’m just glad I got to mitigate it.”

For a while, it appeared the Dodgers might have let it go to waste.

Though their lineup had chased one Padres reliever after another from the game, the team struggled to execute with runners in scoring position — a throwback to their postseason failings at the plate in recent years.

“I thought against Darvish we took some really good at-bats and got him out of there early and got to his pen,” Roberts said. “It just took us a few innings to find our way.”

In the top of the eighth, however, the team finally found a spark.

Max Muncy, who had twice struck out earlier in the game with runners in scoring position, drew a leadoff walk that was aided by a Padres pitch-clock violation (San Diego’s staff, stunningly, committed four of them in the game).


After a single from Teoscar Hernández — another Dodgers debutant Wednesday — James Outman loaded the bases on another free pass, one of nine walks the Dodgers drew in the game.

While Kiké Hernández’s sac fly tied the game, the Padres might have limited the damage if not for Cronenworth’s glove malfunction — a play that was ruled an error, and helped the Dodgers salvage a much-anticipated opening day.

“Fortunate break for us,” Roberts said. “You have to take them when you can have them.”

A sloppy opener in South Korea took a bizarre turn when a ground ball went through the mitt of Padres first baseman Jake Cronenworth, giving the Dodgers the go-ahead run.

March 20, 2024