Friday, April 08, 2022

Post-Game 1 Thread: Opening Day Win, But Not Dominance


The Dodgers spoiled the Rockies' Opening Day at Coors Field, jumping out to a lead in the fourth inning off the back of five two-out runs. The five runs held up even though new closer Craig Kimbrel allowed one run in earning the save; Walker Buehler got the win with five innings of two-run ball (2 BB, 5 Ks).

I know, I should be thrilled. But I'm not.

This is a Dodgers team that is supposed to dominate the NL West and roll to the World Series, and against a hapless Colorado squad they looked positively mortal. With the exception of that top of the fourth, the Dodgers' vaunted offense had some apparent weaknesses, starting with Cody Bellinger (in the eight-hole, 0-for-4 with 5 LOB). Bellinger also swung at the first pitches of his first two ABs and looked immature and unprepared. Surpassing Bellinger was Justin Turner, 0-for-5 with 5 LOB of his own, but for some reason I still feel better about JT than I do about Belli.

If there's one thing that did seem clear, it is that when the Dodgers bats decide to get hot, it's like a tsunami--the wave comes fast and all you can do is run. Rockies starter Kyle Freeland couldn't make it out of the inning after giving up a two-out, two-run single to Gavin Lux, followed by an RBI double to Mookie Betts and a walk to Freddie Freeman. Tyler Kinley came in and gave up a Trea Turner RBI single, scoring Betts, and then wild-pitched Freeman in from third, to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead. Justin Turner Kd for the final out of the frame, but the damage was done: five runs, nine batters, and a 2-0 lead evaporated in a snap. And all this happened with two outs; the Rockies didn't know what hit them.

Nor did Gavin Lux, who scored from first on Betts' double to take the 3-2 lead. If we can have Lux hit like this from the bottom of the order, it's quite an asset to flip the lineup back up top again to Mookie. But someone has got to teach Gavin how to slide:

That hurts just watching it.

The rest of the game, though, the Dodgers' offense left ducks on the pond (bases loaded in the fifth; one on in the sixth) and then went silent for the last three frames. The game kinda felt like we needed another run or two (especially in Coors Field), which luckily we didn't. But after seeing Kimbrel's unorthodox delivery and slight danger after giving up two doubles in the frame (reminded me a lot of Kenley Jansen!), the lead held up.

From this one performance, it's not clear if Kimbrel is going to resemble the lights-out closer that was with the Cubs in the first half of the season, or the ballooned-ERA that the White Sox had at the end of 2021. Luckily, the rest of the bullpen was lights-out, bridging the sixth through eighth innings with nary a scratch.

It's a long season. Let's go get 'em tomorrow.

UPDATE 10.10p: Of course, LAT's Bill Plaschke thought the Dodgers were great today.. Given his experience making predictions, that's another ominous sign.