JC's Dodger Line Drives | Apr. 13: Oh, What an Opener!
Coming home after going 4-3 in the first road trip of the season, the Los Angeles Dodger celebrated by demolishing their blood rival San Francisco Giants 11-1. New ace Chad Billingsley muzzled the Giant hitters, giving up one run while striking out 11 batters.
The Dodger's 11 run outburst was paced by Orlando Hudson's cycle and two home runs from Andre Ethier. Russell Martin showed signs of breaking out of his early slump with a couple of clutch singles to right along with a 10-pitch at-bat where Randy Johnson struck him out but was then worked over by the rest of the lineup, surrendering six runs and being knocked out of the game.
Opening Day Festivities
The Dodgers celebrated their home opener in fine style, having the players introduced in numerical order and taking the field not from the dugout but coming through the stands at various points. The introductions were culminated with the last few Dodgers walking on top of the bullpen room along the left field pavilion and down a mobile aircraft stairway. After a stirring rendition of the national anthem by 16 year old Filipino singing sensation Charice, a flyover by a B-2 bomber, and the release of 300 doves, beloved Dodger Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully threw out the opening pitch.
Chad the Assassin
Newly minted Dodger ace starter Chad Billingsley showed off his credentials in this matchup against future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Bills struggled a bit early, giving up five hits and a run in the first four innings, but was able to contain serious damage via punchouts and a timely double play in the fourth. Once given a cushion, Chad began the domination, striking out seven of the last nine hitters he faced. Billingsley left after the seventh inning, having chalked up 11 whiffs and surrendering no walks, the third game in a row the Giants failed to draw a walk.
Holy Wes Parker Batman
History was made Monday as new Dodger second baseman Orlando Hudson played his first home game in Dodger Stadium. His triple to the right field corner in the sixth inning capped the first cycle hit in Dodger Stadium by a Dodger. It was the first cycle by a Dodger since Wes Parker in 1970. It was only the second cycle in Dodger Stadium history, the first by Jim Fregosi of the Los Angeles Angels in 1964, the last season the Angels called Chavez Ravine home.
More O-Dog Bones
The cycle started in the first inning when Hudson hit a tapper half-way between home and the mound, Bengie Molina's throw to first was a heartbeat late to get the speedy O-Dog. In the third, Orlando pulled an inside slider into the left field stands for the first score of the game. During the big rally in the fourth inning, Hudson was the seventh of 11 hitters, and his double into the left field gap chased home Rafael Furcal. The cycle was complete in the sixth, while facing Brandon Medders, when he pulled a curve into the right field corner, beating the relay and a tag from Pedro Sandoval.
Ethier Powers Two
Andre Ethier cracked his first two homers of the season, both deep drives into the pavilions. The first was a solo blast deep into center that was the opening salvo of the Blue Crew's assault that drove Randy Johnson from the game. In the eighth, Andre drilled a three run shot about a third of the way up the right field pavilion, bringing home Mark Loretta and Russell Martin. Both of the homers were on first pitch fastballs.
Empty the Bench
With the large lead, Torre was able to insert four bench players; Juan Pierre, Mark Loretta, Doug Mienkiewicz, and Juan Castro. Loretta, a L.A. native making his Dodger Stadium home debut, spanked a hopper past Sandoval for a single. He also made a diving catch of an Edgar Renteria blast in the ninth while manning third base.
Correcting the error they made at the end of spring training, the Dodgers returned Blake DeWitt to Triple-A Albuquerque so he can play regularly and keep developing his game. Veteran reserve infielder Juan Castro made his return to Dodger Blue, he began his MLB career with Los Angeles in 1995. The slick fielder who can handle second, short, and third was a Dodger through 1999. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, Delwyn Young was designated for assignment.
Day of Sadness Pt. One
Long-time Philadelphia Phillie broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away while in the booth preparing for the game at Washington. He began working with the Phillies in 1971 after serving on the original Houston Colt .45/Astro announcing crew from 1965-1970. His distinctive voice was also known across the country from his work on NFL Films. Surely Kalas was in good stead with his maker to be called while preparing to do what he loved.
Day of Sadness Pt. Two
The summer of 1976 will always be known for the antics of Detroit Tiger pitcher Mark Fidrych. The Rookie of the Year winner who racked up 19 victories was known for his shaggy hair that resembled Sesame Street character Big Bird, getting down on his knees to groom the mound with his hands, talking to the ball while on the mound, and his gregarious nature. Fidrych was the victim of an accident while working on a vehicle on his farm.
Around the Majors
Former Dodgers Nomar Garciaparra and Andruw Jones both hit their first home runs of the season. Nomar, playing with Oakland, drilled a shot to left against Boston's Jon Lester in the A's 8-2 victory. Jones smacked his tater on the fifth of consecutive fastballs off another former Dodger, Danys Baez. Baez, who had a thankfully brief time as the Dodger closer, obviously remains clueless since the rest of the league knows the curveball is Andruw's kryptonite.
The Dodgers have an off day on Tuesday. They return to action on Wednesday against the Giants at 7:10 PM Pacific as Clayton Kershaw faces Matt Cain.
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