The air was warm and slightly humid when Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley delivered the first pitch of the season to Yasiel Puig at 8 p.m. Saturday night. It was typical East Coast weather, if not the typical East Coast. A couple hours earlier, a distant clap of thunder interrupted the Dodgers’ batting practice and delayed the game’s first pitch by 14 minutes. The announced crowd of 38,266 at Sydney Cricket Ground sat through a brief autumn shower, then was treated to a very typical game of baseball. For the Dodgers, it was a Fall Classic. Clayton Kershaw was dominant. Scott Van Slyke had the hottest bat on the continent. The dream of a 162-0 season was still alive and well while most of the Pacific time zone slept through a 3-1 Dodgers victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 160-year-old SCG was a gracious host. Its peculiar quirks provided a picturesque Opening Day backdrop: A massive digital video board interrupting the stands in foul territory on the third-base side of the park; on the opposite side, a spired 19th-century grandstand with a green roof and a clock tower. More relevant to the game, the dimensions of the makeshift outfield were the difference between a one-run game and a three-run lead for Kershaw -- practically a plush feathered cushion for the reigning National League Cy Young award winner. With the Dodgers leading 1-0 in the fourth inning and Adrian Gonzalez on first base, Van Slyke curled a low line drive inside the right-field foul pole. The ball had a slim margin for error, less than 10 feet from sailing foul or clanging off the temporary fence for a likely double. Instead it landed in the teal plastic seats just behind the 328-foot marker down the line to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Van Slyke nearly gave the outfield denizens their first souvenir in the second inning. Gonzalez, the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter, walked to lead off the inning. Van Slyke appeared to get all of Miley’s third pitch, clubbing it high into the thick, swirling air to left field. A strong headwind knocked down the ball, which still managed to reach the wall -- several feet away from leaping left fielder Mark Trumbo. Gonzalez went from first to third as Van Slyke settled for a double. After Juan Uribe struck out, Andre Ethier pulled a ground ball to the left of Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill. Hill’s only play was to first base, and Gonzalez scored on the RBI groundout. That was the entirety of the Dodgers’ offense against the left-hander Miley, who replaced injured teammate Patrick Corbin last week. Miley allowed only three hits in five innings -- the double and home run by Van Slyke, and a single by Justin Turner in the fifth inning. Kershaw was a bit better in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed five hits, one run, walked one and struck out seven batters. Making his fourth straight Opening Day start, Kershaw’s only critical mistake was a double by Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the sixth inning. Goldschmidt went to third base on Kershaw’s only wild pitch of the evening, and scored on a groundout to second base by Trumbo. Of Kershaw’s 102 pitches, 73 were strikes. Chris Perez retired the final batter of the seventh inning in his Dodgers debut. Brian Wilson pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out two batters, and Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the save -- a perfectly scripted finish for the Dodgers’ $30 million bullpen.
Dodgers beat Diamondbacks 3-1 on Opening Day in Sydney, Australia
L.A. Daily News | Mar 22