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The Sports Report: Joc Pederson finds one opponent he can’t beat

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers
Joc Pederson is tended to after crashing into the fence.
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

DODGERS

Superman has Lex Luthor. Batman has The Joker. Joc Pederson has the right-field fence at Dodger Stadium.

Pederson had two home runs in the Dodgers 16-9 rout of Colorado on Monday and was inches from a third when his drive bounced off the top of the fence and back into the field. But the fence wasn’t done with him yet. In the top of the fifth, Pederson crashed into that fence while making a spectacular catch of Charlie Blackmon‘s fly to right. Pederson crumpled on the warning track, rolled over and threw the ball to center fielder Chris Taylor, who threw the ball in to the infield to hold Trevor Story at first.

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Pederson was in obvious pain and came out of the game to a standing ovation. He was diagnosed with a bruised abdomen, which doesn’t sound pleasant.

“It was a big night for Joc,” Roberts said. “It could have been a humongous night. That’s one of the things I told him when he came out of the game. I was expecting another homer, a three-homer night from him. It was kind of the side, the rib, the shoulder, a little combo. But that was a heck of a play. If that ball goes out of the park, we’re looking at a different game.”

The right-field fence had no comment after the game.

Pederson overshadowed the debut of top prospect Gavin Lux, who went two for five with a double.

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The Dodgers hit seven homers in the game. In addition to Pederson’s two, they got two from Chris Taylor, and one each from Bellinger, Corey Seager and Matt Beaty.

The downside of the victory was the shaky performance by Walker Buehler, who allowed six runs and eight hits in five innings.

“His stuff wasn’t sharp,” Roberts said. “They hit some good pitches, to their credit, but you could just tell Walker wasn’t feeling great. You’re gonna have those outings. Fortunately, the offense, up and down the lineup, picked us up.”

UCLA FOOTBALL

Remember UCLA’s season opener? Remember the shaky performance from quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson? Remember how he turned the ball over four times? Remember how worried Bruins fans were about him? Forget it. Chip Kelly isn’t worried.

We had four turnovers,” Kelly said, placing emphasis on the first word. “So that’s how we look at it, it’s a team. It’s not a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination.”

Kelly said he did not consider benching Thompson-Robinson in favor of backup Austin Burton. Kelly noted that on one of Thompson-Robinson’s interceptions, receiver Michael Ezeike was supposed to continue running before breaking off his route.

“You don’t put that on the quarterback,” Kelly said. “So I think sometimes obviously in that position you get too much blame when things don’t go well and sometimes you get too much credit when things do go well.”

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RAMS

Gary Klein, on the Rams’ season opener:

After lining up against him five times during his 11-year NFL career, Rams cornerback Aqib Talib knows a few things about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Talib was part of a Denver Broncos defense directed by coordinator Wade Phillipsthat shut down Newton in Super Bowl 50 to end the 2015 season.

As the Rams get ready for Sunday’s opener against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., Talib said there were similarities to the run-up to his Super Bowl matchup against Newton.

“You had a while to kind of prepare for him,” Talib said Monday. “And I think we put together a great game plan.”

The Broncos had two weeks to prepare for Newton before their 24-10 Super Bowl victory. The Rams have had nearly five months.

Newton, a three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2015 league MVP, had offseason surgery on his right shoulder. He recovered well, but his status for Sunday’s game was in question after he suffered a foot injury during the third preseason game against the New England Patriots.

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters last week that there was “no doubt in my mind” that Newton would be ready for the Rams.

Talib also has no doubts.

“We know he’s going to come out looking good, feeling good,” Talib said.

CHARGERS

There’s no way to properly sum up this story, so I am going to let a few paragraphs from Sam Farmer’s story speak for themself and encourage you to read the entire story by clicking here.

When Andrew Luck recently announced his retirement, citing the physical and mental toll of coming back from injuries, NFL fans were stunned. Some NFL players, less so. One of them, former Chargers offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, 33, shared his experience with the Times:

I was dumbfounded when those fans booed Andrew Luck when news broke that he decided to retire. I couldn’t believe the reaction. I searched for a reason, and the only thing I could come up with is fans don’t have a good enough education on what an NFL player goes through behind the scenes.

What it’s really like when injuries pile up and their diminishing passion for the sport forces them to make the hardest decision they’ve ever made, the decision to walk away from the game.

I know. I’ve been through it.

When you’re an NFL player, you don’t complain about injuries. It’s out of respect for each other that you don’t really talk about them in the locker room. I’d rather not hear how your knee hurts, because my shoulder is killing me. I don’t want to hear how tough that hamstring pull is, because I tore my groin last week. Everybody has something.

You don’t ever complain to your coaches about injuries either, because they will think you’re weak. And you never, ever want to complain to family and friends, because you’re playing a kid’s game for a king’s ransom.

Let me take you back to my childhood. I wasn’t allowed to play football until the eighth grade. Finally, my mom let me. My coach said, “You’ve got to have tough knuckles, tough hands. You can’t be complaining about a jammed or broken finger. You have to have ‘em so tough you can’t even feel ‘em.”

I took that literally. So I went in our back yard where we had a pine tree. I’d punch it over and over to deaden my fingers. One day, my mom came out of the house because she heard the thunk, thunk, and saw the tree shaking outside the window.

“I’m trying to make my hands tough,” I told her. My knuckles were completely shredded and bleeding. We went back in the house and she was picking tree bark out of my knuckles. But as soon as my hands healed, I did it again. And again.

TENNIS

Defending U.S. Open women’s champion Naomi Osaka was eliminated in the fourth round on Monday after losing to Belinda Bencic, 7-5, 6-4.
victory from the world’s No. 1 player in a fourth-round match played at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Bencic’s quarterfinal opponent will be No. 23 Donna Vekic, who came back to defeat No. 26 Julia Goerges, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3.

Also, Bianca Andreescu defeated Taylor Townsend, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.

On the men’s side, No. 2 Rafael Nadal defeated Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to earn a place in the 40th career Grand Slam event quarterfinal of his career.

No. 13 seed Gael Monfils got to the quarterfinals by breezing past Pablo Andujar 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. He will face No. 24 seed Matteo Berrettini, who ousted Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS MOMENT

What is your favorite L.A. sports moment? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com and I might run it in a future newsletter. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too.

Today’s moment comes from Charles Betz of Huntington Beach:

My most memorable event occurred during the Coliseum Relays around 1956. I loved track and field, and the annual Coliseum Relays brought out the best track and field athletes and many memorable performances.

Seated a few rows behind me was Jesse Owens. There was a continuing line of people waiting to get his autograph, all patiently waiting for their turn to talk momentarily with him and get their program signed. Two large young athletes pushed their way past the others to the front of the line. Owens looked at them with a glance that expressed his disappointment and disapproval of their behavior. They turned around and went to the back of the line.

Owens’ quiet dignity and power was very impactful on this young fan. Seeing it, and having the memory of the moment, was far more powerful and important to me than any autographed program or competition of the day.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Colorado at Dodgers, 7 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Angels at Oakland, 7 p.m., FSW, AM 830

Atlanta at Sparks, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

BORN ON THIS DATE

1878: Tennis player Dorothea Chambers (d. 1960)

1917: Baseball player Eddie Stanky (d. 1999)

1926: Sportscaster Bill Flemming (d. 2007)

1931: NBA coach Dick Motta

1966: NFL player Bennie Blades

1967: Baseball player Luis Gonzalez

1970: NBA player George Lynch

1972: NHL player Martin Straka

1973: NBA player Damon Stoudamire

1976: NFL player Jevon Kearse

1986: Snowboarder/skateboarder Shaun White

DIED ON THIS DATE

1970: NFL coach Vince Lombardi, 57

2017: Boxer Sugar Ramos, 75

AND FINALLY

2018 Winter Olympics: Shaun White wins halfpipe gold with epic final run. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me by clicking here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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