Break out the bats! This game turned early-season conventional wisdom on its head, with Luis Gonzalez providing some much-needed power (and helping to silence critics—SoSG included—of his defense) and the Dodgers touching up the usually untouchable Barry Zito for eight (!) earned runs.
Randy Wolf got his first win as a Dodger by overcoming early-inning difficulties and settling down to limit the Giants to one earned run over six innings. With his injury history, don't expect Wolf to consistently go deep into games; six solid innings combined with a fat lead allowed the Dodgers to rest Joe Beimel and Takashi Saito while getting some work in for Chad Billingsley.
Billingsley, in his first appearance of the season, showed signs of rust as he allowed three earned runs over two innings, but a ninth-inning RBI by Matt Kemp and another dominant inning of relief by Jonathan Broxton (including striking out Rich Aurilia on a Gagne-esque off-speed pitch when everyone in the park was expecting a fastball) ended any thoughts of a Giants rally.
Kemp batted sixth in the order and went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. In only three games this year, Kemp has seemingly demonstrated more plate discipline than in all of last year. It will be interesting to see if his approach with the bat changes as he tries to hit for more power.
The third member of the Dodgers' outfield, Juan Pierre, provided what Ken Gurnick calls "more outfield misadventures" with a first-inning error that led to the Giants' first run. Pierre was 1 for 5 at the plate, but stole third in a double-steal in the seventh.
In the infield, Jeff Kent continued to prove he's healthy by going 2 for 4 with three runs scored. Wilson Valdez, who just last week looked like a temporary fix for the injured Rafael Furcal, went 3 for 5 with two RBIs. In his past two games, Valdez is 6 for 9 at the plate and has provided some sparkling defense at short.
With Furcal's return imminent, the Dodgers will have a tough decision in whether to keep Valdez on the roster, since he is out of options and eligible to be claimed by another team should the Dodgers try to send him to the minors. And we keep wondering why there isn't room for James Loney on this team.
So the Dodgers recover nicely from their opening missteps in Milwaukee by sweeping the Giants in San Francisco. We'll see if they can keep their upward momentum in the NL West when they play the Rockies tomorrow in the home opener. Remember to get there early!