After being shut out for the first two games of the season, the Dodgers earned a split with the Giants.
What pitching do the Dodgers have? In the first four-game series against the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodger pitching staff allowed only two solo home runs to Joe Panik. Although the Dodgers lost the first two games, they finished the series strongly.
Already the Dodgers have the best ERA (0.50) in the Major Leagues. Though Clayton Kershaw suffered his first Opening Day loss in his career when he allowed a solo homer to Panik, he was the only Dodger starter to allow a run in the series. The bullpen was brilliant, also.
Alex Wood pitching from the stretch constantly narrowly missed a no-hitter in his eight innings. He baffled the Giants with a sinker and a tight curveball. He had flawless control. Although Logan Forsythe uncharacteristically committed three errors while playing third base, his natural position, the Giants couldn’t capitalize on these scoring gifts.
Kenta Maeda brought the aggressiveness as he demonstrated when he relieved during last year’s postseason to his first start. Although he lasted only five innings, he struck out ten Giants. He attacked each hitter. The Giants had some scoring opportunities, but Maeda became more aggressive with runners on base.
Rich Hill with his almost unhittable curveball wiggled out of two bases-loaded jams during his six-inning performance.
During this past offseason, the Giants tried to improve their woeful offensive production, which was second-worst in the Majors in 2017. They acquired Austin Jackson to play centerfield, Evan Longoria to play third base, and Andrew McCutchen to play right field. All these hitters have performed well offensively during their long careers, but in the first series of the season, they didn’t do anything. Longoria and McCutchen must adjust to playing for a new organization for the first time in their careers.
For the last ten years, Longoria was the face of the Tampa Bay Rays. He provided good defense at third base while being their main offensive producer. He was traded to the Giants this winter since the Rays want to rebuild with a younger and less expensive roster. Many baseball-knowledgeable people think the Rays will either change location or not exist within the next ten years since their fanbase is awful. Transferring from the American League to the National League often gives good hitters a challenge, and so far, Longoria appears to be one of those.
For nine years, McCutchen was the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, but after many years of trade rumors, the Pirates traded him this January to the Giants. Although he was a Gold Glove centerfielder in 2012, he was the worst centerfielder in the Majors during 2017, so the Giants moved him to right field this spring, where he had played only 13 Major-League games before 2018.
While trying to learn a new position, McCutchen must rebound from his worst offensive performance in the Major Leagues last year. Although he was the NL MVP in 2013, since then, his offensive statistics have declined. The Giants think a change of scenery will help this but hitting at AT&T Park represents more of a challenge than at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. During the first series of the season, McCutchen displayed no power.
After being shut out for the first two games of the season, the Dodgers looked more like themselves in the last two. They reached base regularly and took advantage of the Giants’ miscues. Yasiel Puig’s overly aggressive baserunning on Sunday night preoccupied the Giants letting Corey Seager to score from second on a fly ball to left field. Before Sunday, the 2017 unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger didn’t have a hit, but he ended his brief slump with an opposite-field 2-run blast and a single.
There is no question that the Dodgers miss Justin Turner. His right-handed powerful presence with a good eye for the strike zone adds another dimension to the lineup. Until he returns from a fractured wrist, the Dodgers probably will struggle against left-handed pitching.
Whereas manager Bruce Bochy mainly remained with the same lineup for the four games, Dave Roberts tried to start all his position players in one of the games. Kyle Farmer, a rookie catcher who had a fantastic spring training and was a surprise to make the Opening Day roster, showed his versatility when he started at third base, his natural position, and made a sensational play. Using his entire roster in the opening series helps to keep the players fresh and involved in the game. Roberts stresses practically every player within the Dodger organization can play a crucial role in the success of the Major-League team in 2018.