Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Win on Opening Day, A Lot To Smile About

It wasn’t pretty, but it certainly was an entertaining affair.

Matt Kemp hits his first homer of the year on Opening Day
Matt Kemp showed that he could turn on the switch and leave Spring Training in the rear view mirror. Going  2 for 5 with a single and two run homer,  Matty’s strength is absolutely super human.  It’s not easy to go opposite field at Petco and that ball just kept carrying.  Kemp started 2012 like he left off last season, as the dominating presence on the team.
Dee Gordon flashed the leather and speed between three strikeouts.  His defense was stellar.  His speed meteoric.  He was fooled on several pitches.  I’ll take it.  Gordon was a difference maker tonight.
The Pawdres of Petco played like dogs and gifted the Blue Crew two runs on two errors in the fourth inning.  Their swift centerfielder Cameron Maybin simply dropped a flyball that he had to rundown.  He was obviously surprised at the ability of Gordon to give it a ride to the center field warning track.  By the time he retrieved it, Gordon was having thoughts of an inside the parker, only to be held at third by Tim Wallach’s stop sign.  Dee's speed influenced the Bartlett error two batters later.  The Padre shortstop had to rush on the play to have a prayer at getting Gordon out at the plate, and as a result, he muffed the grounder to his right.
Andre Ethier was called out at the plate in the first bad call of the year.  In fairness to home plate umpire Gary Darling, it was a bang-bang play and he had a tough angle.  Replays showed that Ethier’s hand touched the plate before Volquez applied the tag on him.    
Clayton’s fastball didn’t even reach 90, but he showed that heart of a lion and team leadership of a person that clearly understands he is the staff ace.  Insisting that he take the ball on opening day, even though he was suffering from a severe flu,  Kershaw tossed a gritty three innings before wisely being lifted for a pinch hitter by Mattingly.  It is best for Kershaw to rest up and get better.  We’ll see him hopefully at full strength at the home opener.

A.J. Ellis off to a good start
Props to A.J. Ellis for calling a great game and handling six pitchers.  He made a great hustling defensive play on a wild pitch strike three by throwing out bulky Yonder Alonso as he trudged down the line with a pinpoint accurate throw.  His 11 pitch ninth inning at bat that ended in a laced single to right field is the type of at bat that will clearly help the team this season.  It didn’t result in a run this time, but there will be times this year that it will.
Other positives to note:
Juan Rivera let his hot hitting in Spring Training continue on into the regular season with a 2 for 4 performance.
Josh Lindblom’s two innings of no-hit ball in the 4th and 5th resulted in him earning a well deserved win.
Matt Guerrier served up an inning ending double play grounder and Javy Guerra’s 1-2-3 ninth that shut down the Pads who didn’t threaten at all in the final frame.
The bullpen was burned up in day one, meaning that Billingsly needs to pitch deep in to tomorrow’s game.  Based on his spring performances in Arizona, that doesn’t seem likely.
Kenley Jansen’s velocity was down and Cameron Maybin tatooted his inside fastball for a 2 run homer.  That is two consecutive starts that he has given up a homer.  Hopefully Jansen straightens himself out.  It was nice to see him recover and finish the inning without any further damage.  I hope there is no injury concern here.  Jansen’s fastball was 5-6 MPH slower than at the end of last season.
A Magic Presence
New Dodger owner Magic Johnson shared a front row seat next to outgoing owner Frank McCourt.  His boisterous presence was noticeable and even mentioned by Matt Kemp on the post game show.  This could be a fun year!

Magic Johnson reacts to a fantastic inning ending web gem by shortstop Dee Gordon

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