First off, kudos to the Dodgers organization for the classy and thrilling pre-game ceremonies on Opening Day. There was an impressive star-studded video played on the new Dodger Stadium screens, but the highlight was Sandy Koufax throwing out the first pitch to Orel Hershiser (below). Chills? Chills. SoSG AC, SoSG Dusty and SoSG Sax were in attendance and let's hope we hear from them what the buzz at the stadium was like.
The Dodgers got off to a great start in the first inning off Matt Cain, making him throw a lot of pitches and getting two men on with no out. But Carl Crawford tried to play hero by stealing third and was thrown out easily by Buster Posey, and the inning fell apart after that. Despite making Cain throw 29 pitches, the Dodgers went scoreless in the first.
Clayton Kershaw and Cain proceeded to lock everything down by throwing up matching zeroes for seven and a half innings. Cain ended up with eight Ks, Kershaw seven.
Then came the bottom of the eighth. Bruce Bochy had already pulled Cain after 92 pitches. First up to face reliever Goerge Kontos is Kershaw, who crushes the first pitch to deep center for his first major-league home run. The Dodgers went on to score three more, but of course Kershaw's home run was the game-winner. According to the post-game interview, Kershaw is the first pitcher to throw a complete game and hit a home run on Opening Day since Bob Lemon in 1953.
So, pay the man already. 2013 just got off to a pretty damn fine start.
photo, from 2008, by Jon SooHoo/Dodgers