Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pretty much your perfect home opener

The Dodgers opened the home part of their schedule Monday afternoon after a week on the road. A big win was wished for, hoped for, and maybe even expected. What we didn't know was just how dominating it would be. Consider all the good things that went down:
  • Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle, tripling in his 4th at-bat to reach a mark that hasn't been done by a Dodger since Wes Parker in 1970.
  • Andre Ethier hit 2 home runs.
  • Chad Billingsley pitched 7 strong innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 11.
  • Mark Loretta came on late and made a fantastic diving catch in the 9th.
  • Randy Johnson suffered his first loss in Dodger Stadium after 7 wins.
  • Every Dodger starter had a hit while every Giant starter struck out at least once against Billingsley.
  • The Dodgers got wins in both the first game of the year and the home opener.
  • They beat the hated Giants 11-1.
There's a whole lot to be happy about after that performance. And to think that it was actually a close game at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the 4th, with Billingsley and Johnson throwing very well.

That's where the tide most definitely turned, as the Dodgers sent 11 men to the plate. The funny part was that it actually started with Russell Martin striking out before the onslaught was on. Ethier homered to deep center for his first shot of the year, Matt Kemp walked, and Casey Blake singled. Bills sacrificed for 2 down, and Rafael Furcal lined one into left for the 4-1 lead.

The O-Dog got his double, scoring Raffy, and getting it to 5-1. Manny Ramirez got the intentional pass, and Johnson walked James Loney for his last hitter. Martin singled home 2 before Ethier ended the inning flying out. In all, it was 6 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. Men were on base and driven in - it's amazing how it all works out with some clutch hits.

Ethier struck again in the 8th with a 3-run bomb to increase the lead to 10. But the real story will be Hudson's cycle, the first one by a Dodger in Dodger Stadium history. That's pretty amazing if you think about. All of those great players, and it hasn't happened ever until today. Wow. Considering he still is working through a wrist injury from last season, that's just crazy to see.

While the offense was all on target, Billingsley was awesome yet again. He finished at 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K. He K'd his last 5 hitters he faced, and was just completely overpowering. It helps facing a weak hitting team like the Giants, but he could have beaten anyone today with his stuff. Nasty. He's now 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 1.00 WHIP early on.

After practically putting everyone to sleep in the San Diego series, the offense is starting to string together some clutch hits since then. I'm glad Ethier got it going today without the pressure of hitting cleanup. I can easily see him back there at some point, but for now it's the right move. Manny hasn't hit one out yet, but he is hitting .304 with a whopping .529 OBP. He'll take his walks and wait until he can get hot. It'll happen soon.

Tuesday is an off day, and Wednesday it'll be Clayton Kershaw against Matt Cain. The Dodgers have some momentum after today's shellacking and a good weekend in Arizona, so we'll see how they come and play the next 2 games at home.

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