G’day mates. Okay, no more Australian slang for me. I think I have a good relationship with all of the Australians out there and I’d like to keep it that way, but I couldn’t resist.
Welcome to my running diary for the 2014 MLB Season Opener between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. This will differ a little from our site’s protocol because while I will spray some fantasy stuff in here and there, I’m mostly just doing this to observe and remember one of my favorite days of the year — the first day of the MLB season. I can’t wait for next week when the rest of the league gets going.
After a rain delay, we the two teams have finally taken the field for some pregame introductions. A few observations:
- Why can’t the P.A. announcer be Australian? Wouldn’t that add to the experience of playing a game in Australia? Am I alone?
- I honestly had no idea that Chone Figgins was still in the league and on the Dodgers, and I’m a fan of the NL West living in California.
- Clave really wants to know who Archie Bradley is dating. If anyone out there has that information, I’m sure he’d be quite grateful.
Here are the starting lineups for the two teams:
Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks Lineups
|1. Yasiel Puig||RF||1. A.J. Pollock||CF|
|2. Justin Turner||2B||2. Aaron Hill||2B|
|3. Hanley Ramirez||SS||3. Paul Goldschmidt||1B|
|4. Adrian Gonzalez||1B||4. Martin Prado||3B|
|5. Scott Van Slyke||LF||5. Mark Trumbo||LF|
|6. Juan Uribe||3B||6. Miguel Montero||C|
|7. Andre Ethier||CF||7. Chris Owings||SS|
|8. A.J. Ellis||C||8. Gerardo Parra||RF|
|9. Clayton Kershaw||P||9. Wade Miley||P|
It’s game time. I hope all of you remembered to set your fantasy lineups.
All times are from the Pacific Time Zone. PLAY BALL!
2:00 am: Yasiel Puig took a strike for the first pitch. Did not see that coming. After fouling off the second pitch, Puig went after a slider in the dirt for Strike 3. Certainly could have been better.
2:02 am: This game is on the MLB Network. So, why does the automated graphic behind home plate say ESPN? This may keep me awake long after this game ends.
2:08 am: It’s Clayton Kershaw time. When this guy’s pitching, you stop what you’re doing to watch. He’s an absolute treat. Like Miley, Kershaw K’s his first hitter in three pitches.
2:09 am: Aaron Hill is up. He’s one of the few guys I’m really interested in from a fantasy perspective in this series. If he can establish early on that he’s in a groove, he may keep the No. 2 spot for a while. He hits a sharp grounder that eats up Hanley for a single and the first hit of the 2014 MLB season.
2:13 am: Kershaw is a great athlete, fielding a slow chopper and easily gunning Martin Prado out at first. That play is not that easy. Second and Third, two out.
2:15 am: Kershaw gets out of the jam, getting Mark Trumbo to ground out to Hanley. Inning over. You never want to leave men on base, but especially against Kershaw.
2:19 am: The Dodgers have their first runner as Adrian Gonzalez draws a four-pitch walk. In other news, the ESPN graphic behind the screen has changed. This could turn in to quite the interesting subplot for your’s truly.
2:20 am: It appeared as though Scott Van Slyke had the first homer of the season, but it got held up. Trumbo climbed the wall, only to have the ball land at the base of the wall. The call was correct but it’s worth noting, no replay at this game. That will have to wait until the North American part of the season. Anyway, second and third, no out. Miley in quite a jam.
2:25 am: Australian Cricket Legend and Hall of Famer and MLB fan Ian Chappell just compared the wind patterns of the Sydney Cricket Grounds to Wrigley Field. That’s certainly a twist
2:25 am: After Uribe strikes out, Andre Ethier drives in the first run of the 2014 season with a 4-3 groundout.
2:27 am: Miley limits the damage, getting A.J. Ellis to fly out to right to close the inning. 1-0 Dodgers.
2:32 am: Announcer Matt Vasgersian just informed us that the 1,000 pound cinder blocks behind home plate won’t give way in a collision. Thanks for the scoop, Matt.
2:36 am: In-game interview with Diamondbacks Manager, Kirk Gibson. Only this isn’t pre-recorded between the innings. It’s actually during the game. I hope this is just because of the uniqueness of this event and doesn’t become commonplace.
2:37 am: Even when Puig makes a simple out, he still looks impressive. He should be one of the game’s best draws for a long, long time.
2:40 am: Gibson’s interview ends without anything eventful happening. I was really hoping someone would go yard with Gibby on a live mic and we’d good some good profanity going early in the year. No such luck. There’s always Don Mattingly‘s interview. Miley has a 1-2-3 inning. Still 1-0 Dodgers.
2:44 am: Kershaw is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA on Opening Day. Not bad. Not bad, at all. Although Miley gave him a very tough at-bat before ultimately grounding out.
2:51 am: After Hill draws a two-out walk, Goldschmidt ends the inning with a very well hit ball to dead center. Wrong part of the park.
2:53 am: Bud Selig is in the booth. I don’t want to say anything bad about him. He might suspend me.
2:55 am: We have our first passed ball strikeout of 2014, with Gonzalez reaching base after Montero couldn’t corral Strike 3.
2:56 am: After narrowly missing the season’s first homer in his first at-bat, Scott Van Slyke gets the job done here, going to the opposite field this time. He’s owned in 0.2 percent of ESPN leagues as of this writing. I wonder if that will change when people wake up and see this box score. Either way, Miley may want to pitch around him next time.
2:59 am: Miley gets Uribe and Ethier to finish the inning. 3-0 Dodgers. We’re heading into the bottom of the fourth but the way that Kershaw is going, it could be more than enough.
3:04 am: A guy in one of my fantasy leagues forgot to start Clayton Kershaw. So many questions. He’s in Minnesota and it’s just after 5 am there, but I really want to find out why Kershaw was ever on his bench.
3:05 am: A potentially good sign. Miguel Montero just hit a solid line drive to single. After his well-hit fly out to left in his first at-bat, he seems dialed in at the dish.
3:08 am: Justin Turner just tied a Major League record, recording three putouts in one inning. 3-0 Dodgers through four full innings.
3:11 am: The wave has made it to Australia. Can we pass an International Law banning this? Please? Let me know what I need to do to get the wheels in motion.
3:13 am: The ESPN graphic is back.
3:15 am: Kershaw just bunted Strike 3. It also appeared to be Ball 4. On another note, after walking Ellis and nearly walking Kershaw, Miley just uncorked a pitch that appeared headed to the backstop. Only a great play from Montero saved it. Still, he’s starting to struggle with his control. Kershaw also let loose with an impressive primal scream after his last bunt went foul.
3:18 am: Whatever the pitching coach said worked, as Miley threw three straight strikes to get Puig. Miley’s had some issues with Van Slyke, but he’s actually had a nice game. 7 strikeouts already.
3:21 am: Martin Prado makes a great play on a sharp grounder from Hanley, but makes a terrible throw to first, drawing Goldschmidt well off of the bag. E-5. Bases loaded, two down, Adrian Gonzalez up.
3:22 am: The way this park is designed for baseball has more foul territory than Oakland. I wasn’t sure that was possible.
3:23 am: Nice piece of pitching from Miley, getting through the error with strikeout No. 8. His box score won’t look great at the end of this game, but he’s actually pitched quite well, really making only two bad pitches. If you’re looking for one more starter, he’s definitely worth consideration.
3:27 am: Miley’s final line: 5 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs (all earned), 8 K’s.
3:29 am: I did not know that Gregorius used to play in the Australian baseball league. That however, did not help him here, as Kershaw sends him packing. That’s his 4th strikeout.
3:32 am: Kershaw gets Hill for K No. 5. He’s rolling. We’ll be a bit behind when I get back. Have to go make myself some Eggo’s ®
3:41 am: We’re back. Shouldn’t take us more than an inning or two to get caught up. Will Harris is now pitching for the Diamondbacks. Not a terrible MRI candidate for you fantasy players, though his WHIP is a little high.
3:43 am: Van Slyke finally makes an out. Vasgersian makes a good point. The Dodgers already have three spots for four starting outfielders. If Van Slyke plays well, it could make things very interesting for Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Carl Crawford. At the very least, there may be a trade or two in Ned Colletti’s future.
3:48 am: Thanks to a great leaping grab from Martin Prado, Harris has a 1-2-3 inning.
3:49 am: Goldschmidt ropes a double to the gap. He’s very much like Puig. When he swings, it’s impressive, almost no matter what happens. He’s 2-for-3.
3:52 am: A passed ball gets Goldy to third and gives the Diamondbacks their best scoring chance since the first inning, but Prado can’t capitalize, hitting a grounder to third. Goldy on third, one out. Mark Trumbo at the dish.
3:54 am: The Diamondbacks are on the board with a groundout to second. A good trade for the Dodgers. 3-1 L.A.
3:56 am: Inning over after Montero grounds out to Gonzalez. 3-1 Dodgers through six.
4:00 am: After a very nice piece of hitting that resembled a drop shot in tennis, Kershaw gets a bit greedy going for a double and is gunned down. I don’t imagine Don Mattingly loves seeing Kershaw sliding into second. That’s not what they pay you the big big big big big bucks for, Clayton.
4:02 am: Puig goes down with his third strikeout. 0-4 overall.
4:04 am: Another K for Kershaw. No. 6 overall.
4:06 am: An error on Turner allows Parra to reach, bringing up Eric Chavez to pinch hit. Arizona might think about acquiring a right-handed bat to come off the bench. Their two pinch hitters so far, Didi Gregorius and Chavez are both lefties, going up against a pretty good lefty in Kershaw.
4:08 am: Chavez is no match for Kershaw, striking out. But it’s his last hitter on the evening as Don Mattingly comes to get the ball.
4:10 am: Kershaw’s final line: 6.2 innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 run (earned), 7 strikeouts. He’s awfully tough to beat.
4:14 am: Brad Ziegler is in the game and gets Turner on a groundout to third. Nice start.
4:18 am: Potential development — Hanley gets out and appears to be grabbing at his hamstring heading back to the dugout. He doesn’t get any medical attention in the dugout so he was likely just adjusting his pants. Still, not a sight anyone wants to see.
4:19 am: After getting the first two hitters out, Ziegler allows a double to Gonzalez and walks Van Slyke.
4:20 am: Ziegler gets out of the jam, getting Uribe to ground out. Heading to the bottom of the 8th, L.A. leads 3-1.
4:22 am: Hill, Goldschmidt, and Prado due up. If Arizona’s going to tie the game, this is probably the inning for it to happen.
4:23 am: Brian Wilson in to pitch. Talk about a potential MRI guy. His WHIP can be a bit inflated, but he’s very good with striking hitters out and preventing runners from scoring. This has potential to be an unhittable bullpen.
4:25 am: Big strikeout on Aaron Hill followed by Goldschmidt lining out to center on the first pitch.
4:28 am: Wilson gets Prado looking. 3-1 Dodgers through 8. Filthy pitch.
4:39 am: Puig hits it hard, but it hangs up too long for Pollock, who tracks it down in deep right-center. 0-5, 3 strikeouts. 3-1 Dodgers headed to the bottom of the 9th.
4:42 am: Kenley Jansen is on to close things out for the boys in blue.
4:44 am: Trumbo down swinging.
4:45 am: Montero puts one in play, but does little else, as Hanley easily throws him out at first. It appears as though the grabbing of the hamstring earlier was just a wardrobe issue, as he looks fine out there. That’s good to see.
Final Takeaway: It really was a good scene in Australia. It was interesting to see the Sydney Cricket Grounds transformed into a baseball stadium. Best of all, it didn’t look out of place. I think MLB needs to focus a little more on growing the game domestically, but that’s a slight on Australia or any other country at all. It seemed like a great show and the fans appeared very into the whole game from start-to-finish. No regrets staying up for it.
- I don’t really put much into the performances of stars like Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez and Paul Goldschmidt. They’re some of the best in the game and the numbers will be there in the end.
- The 0-5 from Yasiel Puig is noticeable. He’s a great talent, but Major League pitchers can take advantage of his aggressive nature now that he’s no longer a secret.
- I liked what I saw from Aaron Hill and Wade Miley, even though his line wasn’t great. He did pitch pretty well.
- Don’t rush out and grab Scott Van Slyke. He played great today but when things get going, it’s going to be hard enough being even the fourth outfielder on that team. They’re loaded.
This is the first one of these that I’ve ever tried, and I have no problem admitting that I was inspired by the running diaries of Bill Simmons, and some other writers that I look up to. I’d certainly be willing to to another if you guys liked this one. Feel free to let me know if you liked it, or if there were certain things that worked or didn’t work for you.
The 2014 season is officially underway.