7,947 miles from Chavez Ravine, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks opened up a two-game series across the Pacific Ocean in Sydney Australia. In a weird opening series both teams seemed excited for the opportunity to promote the game of baseball overseas. This is the first baseball game in Sydney, Australia since 1914 when the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants graced the Sidney Cricket Ground, where the Dodgers and D-Backs will begin their season as NL West rivals.
The Dodgers sported their new alternate jerseys that read “Dodgers” across their chess and had Vin Scully calling the game. Considering that he doesn’t make most of the road trips during the season it was truly great that the Hall of Fame Announcer flew across the ocean with the team, and that was excellent in itself. Besides, an opening day Dodger game wouldn’t be the same without the voice of Vin Scully.
The game was delayed an hour due to light rain, but that didn’t stop the rest of the Dodgers from warming up. The two-game series is being taken serious by both teams because the reality is, this two game series counts for both teams records.
44,000 Australians filled the Sydney Cricket Ground Stadium in what seemed to have a World Series type of feel. A large stage, and with every seat filled this was a sign that this was not just another Spring Training game, but a real game.
As the game finally started, D-Backs starter Wade Miley who was sporting long hair that seemed wet and a beard that looked rough and rugged started out well with three decent innings. With four strikeouts, one walk, and a ball that floated out of the park that was hit by Scott Van Slyke, but ended up bouncing back onto the field, earning him a long double. Van Slyke’s hit probably should have been a home run, but manager Don Mattingly probably didn’t want an opening day argument with his fellow umpires. Andre Ethier then knocked in the only run through three innings, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Clayton Kershaw looked nervous and had a look of discomfort in the first inning, allowing two hits, but finally settled into the game by the second inning.
At the top of the fourth, with Adrian Gonzalez on base Van Slyke stepped up and smacked a home run to right field, just clearing the foul pole. Giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Kershaw looked solid as the game went into the middle innings. The Aussie fans started the wave, but calmed down as the game went on. The calm and easy-going crowd didn’t slow down the blue crew though.
The Dodgers loaded the bases at the bottom of the fifth inning, giving off the excitement and anticipation for a grand slam. Adrian Gonzalez didn’t come through though, leaving the bases loaded. Giving the D-Backs a sigh of relief.
The D-Backs finally broke Kershaw’s shutout at the top of the sixth, with a Mark Trumbo ground out that lead first baseman Paul Goldschmidt from second to score Arizona’s first run. That was the only bright spot for the D-Backs offense.
As the game began to wind down, the game went into a pitchers duel that led to many lineup changes for both teams. Kershaw was pulled after pitching 6.2 innings, but put on his normal show of dominance. Allowing 5 hits, striking out 7, and walking only one batter. Showing the D-Backs why he is indeed the Dodgers number one starter.
Arizona had no answers for the Dodgers and Kershaw, but could only begin to think when to retaliate from the Dodgers celebrations at their house. That will probably happen at some point as the season goes on. The Dodgers relievers looked dominant and didn’t allow a run or a hit. The game was one-sided from the start, and it was clear that the Dodgers are a deep team destined for a great season.
Despite the Dodgers offense striking out eleven times and scoring on five hits, they were able to pull out the win. Yasiel Puig was non factor in the game, going 0-5, leading many to speculate that he is still getting himself into shape. Kenley Jansen came in and did his thing, closing out the game for his first save of the season. Kershaw shook off his bad spring training with player of the game honors, while looking like the dominant pitcher we all know and love.
The Dodgers won 3-1 and looked like a team with no worries in their sight. Expectations can sometimes take its toll on a team, but the Dodgers seem like a team with all the right parts, and the right personalities to make this team successful. Game 1 of 162 is in the books, in what should be a fun and interesting season for the boys in blue.