After a week of drama, Dodgers get back to the familiar and win their home opener

Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the Dodgers' 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the Dodgers’ 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

To Dave Roberts, Thursday afternoon felt nostalgically, longingly, thankfully familiar.

The afternoon start time. The red, white and blue bunting. Even the traffic clogging up Vin Scully Avenue on the first of his 80 commutes, at least, into Chavez Ravine this year.

“You feel the buzz,” said Roberts, entering his ninth year as Dodgers manager. “Nothing like opening day here at Dodger Stadium.”


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This year, especially.

After a historic $1.4-billion offseason spree, a winter of mounting fan base anticipation, a spring camp of tantalizing flashes from a star-studded lineup, and a confounding theft and gambling scandal surrounding Shohei Ohtani and his ex-interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, Roberts and the Dodgers were more than ready to plunge into the regular season.

In a 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday, they did so with a resounding splash.

“Everyone’s excited. Everyone has World Series aspirations,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “But once the game starts, it kind of all goes away. You just got to go out there and get the win.”

This rout was keyed by the Dodgers’ two biggest offseason acquisitions.

In Ohtani’s first Dodgers home game after his record $700-million signing this offseason, the two-time MVP had two hits and a walk, thrilling a crowd of 52,667 that already included an army of his No. 17 jerseys.


“I’m very grateful, now being part of the Dodgers, and being received by the Dodger fans,” Ohtani said through his new interpreter, Will Ireton. “I’m very grateful for the fans — and there were a lot of them.”

Starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow, a Santa Clarita native who grew up a Dodgers fan, spun a six-inning, one-run gem in his first home start for the club, looking every bit the ace the Dodgers had advertised with a mid-90-mph fastball, swing-and-miss slider and two-seam sinker he added to his repertoire this spring.

“It was extremely special,” Glasnow said before deflecting credit to the Dodgers’ explosive offense. “It’s great to be a starting pitcher behind a lineup like that.”

Indeed, other contributions came from the Dodgers’ returning cast of characters.

Check out the box score from the Dodgers’ win over St. Louis.

Freeman and Betts each went deep in the third inning and combined for three hits, three walks and four RBIs on the day.

Max Muncy drove in a couple of runs of his own, earning praise from Roberts for his situational approach on a first-inning sacrifice fly and seventh-inning RBI single.


James Outman, Will Smith and Teoscar Hernández (the only other player making his Dodgers debut Thursday) all also collected knocks to help the team outhit the Cardinals 10-3.

“Everyone’s going to make a lot of it, I get it,” Freeman said while being peppered with questions about the potency of the lineup’s top three hitters. “But you got to give credit to Will, Max, everyone throughout the course of this lineup. We scored runs not just from us at the top.”

Added Betts: “It seems like we’re just up there doing our jobs, having fun and playing the game. I think there’s been a lot of expectations on the outside, but internally nobody expects anything more than what Freddie, Mookie, Shohei and everybody down the lineup can do.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 28: Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts celebrates while.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts points skyward as he circles the bases after hitting a home run during the third inning Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Expectation wasn’t the only pressure the team dealt with in recent days.

During last week’s season-opening series trip South Korea last week — a two-game split against the San Diego Padres marked by underwhelming performances from the Dodgers’ juggernaut team — news broke about Ohtani’s and Mizuhara’s off-the-field scandal.


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As The Times first reported, the two-way talent accused Mizuhara, his longtime interpreter and close friend, of stealing millions from one of his bank accounts to pay off gambling debts.

And in the wake of those allegations, as well as investigations by federal authorities and Major League Baseball into several aspects of the situation, mass confusion reigned both inside the clubhouse and out.

“This spring covered everything,” Roberts said pregame. “The whole gamut.”

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the first inning Thursday at Dodger Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Yet, just as Roberts and his players had promised in recent days, whatever external adversity the team and its new star player were facing didn’t seep into their play.

Glasnow overcame early command issues and inconsistent execution of his curveball, leaning instead on a couple of variations of his slider — that pitch alone induced eight whiffs on 14 swings — to produce a two-hit, one-walk, five-strikeout performance.

“I think the thing that’s most impressive is he hasn’t had his best stuff yet, and those are his words,” Roberts said, “and he is still pretty dominant.”

Ohtani brushed off a miscue of his own, getting tagged out on a first-inning double after failing to see Betts get held up in front of him at third base. He later missed third base coach Dino Ebel’s stop sign, and later talked out the mistake with both Ebel and Betts in the dugout.

“He can run very fast,” Roberts said with a laugh. “But he’s got to understand there’s a guy in front of him, too.”


For a brief moment, Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas — who seemingly criticized the Dodgers’ offseason earlier this month by saying they are “playing checkbook baseball” — had an opportunity to escape an early jam.

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But then Freeman drove in the game’s first run with a single. Muncy tacked on another with his sacrifice fly. And with Glasnow dealing, the new-look lineup rolling, and a hectic spring camp finally behind them, the billion-dollar Dodgers never looked back.

“People talk about our roster, but everyone … knows you don’t play on paper,” Roberts said. “It’s about going out there and showing we’re a good ballclub.”