Dodgers Are 1-0 At Home Under New Ownership
Monday was a day of change and optimism for the Dodgers. While the game wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination, the Dodgers celebrated the winds of change with a 9-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
Just imagine: Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson's widow, and new co-owner Magic Johnson accompanying Don Newcombe for the ceremonial first pitch before the game. Johnson ushering in the new Guggenheim era screaming the ceremonial "It's time for Dodger baseball," before the game.
"I think the fans were pretty excited to see Magic and all of those guys sitting in the owner's seats," Matt Kemp, who caught Newcombe's fastball strike, said. "It was really good."
As exciting as all of that was, it was the boring old small ball routine that gave the Dodgers the first lead, a mere grounder to second by Juan Rivera with the bases loaded in the third inning.
As monotonous as a pitching duel between Ted Lilly (W, 4-0) and Barry Zito (L, 1-1) might have been, the defense surely livened up the festivities. The teams combined for six errors, three apiece. The difference though: the Dodgers made the Giants pay for their sins.
Kemp's fielding error in the sixth inning on Melky Cabrera's leadoff single led indirectly to the Giant's tying run. While Kemp sat out Sunday's game with hamstring issues, Mattingly really took notice when Kemp didn't run out a double in the seventh inning.
"It scares me because he's a guy that knows his body real well," Mattingly said. "The ball he hits down the line, I can tell he's taking care, he's not running like he usually does. Knowing that it's a double and not a triple. He's just really being cautious I think."
Kemp acknowledges that all this talk of his hamstring is a bit scary.
"I know it sounds bad, but I'm trying to be here for my team," Kemp said. "If I ever feel anything, I'm going to have to shut it down because I'd rather this thing only be one or two days and not 15 days. I don't want to make it into a big thing."
But the Giants errors in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings allowed the Dodgers to open the game including five runs in the eighth inning when Buster Posey playing at first base couldn't handle a Tony Gwynn, Jr. sacrifice bunt.
With the Benny Hill soundtrack playing the background, there was one defensive stop to highlight amongst the morass: birthday boy James Loney, coming off the bench, made a spectacular diving play on Hector Sanchez's grounder down the first base line to rob the Giants of two runs in the eighth inning with the score still 4-1.
"Those things stand out, especially with a score like that when it's closer," Loney said. To Loney it didn't matter that he had just come off the bench. "I get myself ready to play, so it's not any harder."
Speaking of changes, with the score being what it was, the Dodgers didn't have to test their new closer Kenley Jansen.
"I didn't want to have to do this, but I didn't want to be hard-headed," Manager Don Mattingly told reporters before the game. Incumbent closer Javy Guerra since the last homestand had pitched four innings giving up six runs on 12 hits, two blown saves and losses with a 13.50 earned run average.
"It's the games making the decision," Mattingly added.
The Dodgers even got some better than expected news about Jerry Hairston, Jr.'s strained hamstring. Pulling up lame on an infield base hit in the second inning of Sunday's rain-delayed affair in his hometown of Chicago, Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly seemed heartened by the prognosis. Not putting him on the disabled list yet, the team will test his hamstring out on Tuesday before proceeding any further.
Once the game ended, the crowd of 43,713 heading to the exits, the new ownership group filed through the clubhouse hallway looking satisfied with the first home win of their stewardship. The team at 19-10 has the best record in the National League and tied with the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays for the best record in the Major Leagues.