Even though Baseball season began in Australia, Opening day in an actual American stadium means a little bit more to pretty much everyone. The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t do as well in San Diego against the Padres like they did Down Under despite a great pitching performance from Hyun-Jin Ryu, with Brian Wilson blowing a save and a big winning hit from Chris Denforia.
The Padres got on the scoreboard for the first time with the Dodgers 1-0 up in the bottom of the 8th. Sean Smith came on to pinch hit for Rene Rivera and belted a home run off of Wilson, the first player he faced in the game. That was followed by Denforia hitting a single to center which no one could handle, bringing home Everth Cabrera and Yasmani Grandal.
Ryu had a strong performance for the Dodgers, allowing only 3 hits and 3 walks in 7 innings while striking out 7 players. Huston Street came on for the Padres in the ninth to pitch a perfect inning and close the game, following Andrew Cashner who started and allowed four hits, two walks and one 2-out RBI for Carl Crawford, bringing home Dee Gordon. The win went to Dale Thayer who also pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief.
They’re all just one game, but when you’re facing a team like the Dodgers, full of great players, Brian Wilson, a guy who knows how to get it done in those situations, it’s not easy to do what our hitters did. To come back and get three right there in that situation, especially after leaving guys on base early, that’s what this team is going to have to do to win. We’re going to have to battle all year long.
They’ve got a lot of talent and their talent has earned those salaries. They’re not just given. At the same time, a lot of guys in this locker room are young guys. They haven’t hit that free agency mark. They haven’t hit those big salary years. We could be sitting on a higher payroll team. You don’t worry about it too much just because baseball is such a game of execution.
Every loss this season is going to come with a big effect for the Dodgers. That is what happens when you surpass the Yankees and head into the season with the biggest payroll in MLB, $234 million, and especially when it compares with the $90 million the Padres are spending on player salaries. A.J. Ellis with 2-of-3 was the only somewhat hot bat for the Dodgers in the game, as Puig, Ramirez, Gonzalez and Ethier were a combined 0-of-15 in the game. Gonzalez did hit a fly ball in the the top of the 4th inning which would have been a home run in 13 ballparks, including Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers are still likely to finish on top of the NL West when it’s all said and done. Too much talent in pretty much every position, and Wilson won’t have such bad performances every time. But the Padres have a pretty good ball club to be proud of going into the season, and as the cliche says, taking care of the little things throughout the season might help them and other teams make up for the discrepancy in money spent on talent.