Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It should have been an easy win, but a win is a win

With the Dodgers starting the season with what many recognize as an easy part of the schedule, it is crucial for them to get off to a good start.  Thus far, they are accomplishing that as they pulled off their first 3-0 start since 1999.

A.J. Ellis slides home to score the winning run. (photo by Gregory Bull, AP)
Road wins are the tough ones, regardless of who they are against.  Opening the season in a road ball park makes the chore even more difficult with the home club doing their best to leave a decent impression on their fan base, Though we all recognize the Padres as the team that will end up in the cellar, they have always been a tough win for the Dodgers.  Yesterday’s 6-5 victory was no exception.
Jumping to a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning, it looked like the Blue Crew would cruise to victory.  But Capuano, Jamey Wright and Scott Elbert  lost track of the strike zone for 5 or 6 batters and by the top of the fifth inning, the Dodger lead had evaporated into a 5-5 tie.
The remainder of the bullpen held the Padre offense at bay, shutting out the home team for the next 7 innings.  Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen, Mike MacDougal, Todd Coffey and Javy Guerra all held their own.
The story of last night’s game however was of two players: Dee Gordon and A.J. Ellis.

Dee Gordon congratulated by Tim Wallach as half inning concludes after
 knocking in the eventual winning run. (photo by Gregory Bull AP)
Gordon showed why he is one of the most exciting players of the game.  With three hits, including the game winner in the 11th, Gordon was a dominating force, scoring two runs and stealing three bases.  Additionally he came within a whisker of parking his first major league homer into the right field boxes that jet out onto the field.  If Gordon continues to stay healthy and can get on base regularly, there will be a lot of catchers having nightmares about him.
Dee Gordon is simply too fast.  He distracts pitchers and changes their game plan immediately.  The first inning was worked to perfection.  Gordon grounded a single up the middle, and promptly stole second.  Mark Ellis, the professional hitter that he is, hit a ground ball to the right side, advancing Gordon to third and then Matt Kemp hit a sacrifice fly to center.  It was 1-0 before the spectators could even warm up their seats.

A.J. Ellis singles to start off the 11th inning (Jake Roth US Presswire)
A.J. Ellis reached base 4 times and scored the winning run.   Hitting his first homer of the season in the third inning.  Ellis did what he does best.  He worked the count and got on base drawing walks.  There are those that believe he is an ideal number two hitter for that reason, I have to disagree.  As long as he is performing in the bottom half in the lineup as he is, why mess with his comfort zone?  Keep him there.  The Dodgers have some holes in the bottom half with Loney and Uribe struggling, so hopefully A.J. can hold them at bay until at least one of those two start hitting.  (Yes, I know the comments from the peanut gallery, "He'll be waiting a long time."  I'm hoping they are wrong).
Starting the season with a sweep on the road will make a statement.
The last time the Dodgers began the season on the road with 4 consecutive wins was in 1978 (3 against Atlanta and 1 vs. Houston).    Though I should note that in  the ’88 season, the Dodgers didn't  on the road, theDodgers won their first four road games that year too.  We know what those two teams accomplished, (both Pennant winners and one World Series championship).  A victory today will set the league on notice that this Dodger team is a serious contender.

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