The Los Angeles Dodgers opened the 2020 season with a win over the San Francisco Giants that was emblematic of the organization’s current standing.
Clayton Kershaw was an unexpected scratch from his Opening Day start due to back stiffness forcing him to the 10-day injured list. Dustin May filled in admirably, and he was backed by scoreless work from the Dodgers bullpen.
“Can’t say enough about Dustin. We knew the head, just very strong of mind, and obviously the stuff speaks for itself. He’s a guy that’s unflappable,” manager Dave Roberts said after his club’s 8-1 win.
“He’s pitched big for us in the playoffs. To kind of get the ambush notice the day before Opening Day, and to be unfazed, was fun to watch.”
At the plate, Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger sparked the Dodgers in a five-run seventh inning, but Kiké Hernandez had four hits and five RBI, both of which were game highs.
“Really good at-bats, Mookie got a great jump from third base, Kiké with the big hit and gets to second base on the overthrow. Just a lot of good things,” Roberts said of the seventh inning that broke a 1-1 tie.
While there was reason to celebrate beginning a new season with a win and recognizing Hernandez’s efforts, Roberts expressed a belief the team collectively fell somewhat short. “To be honest, I don’t think we really had a great night offensively,” he shared.
“It just shows the talent that we do have in the room. Tonight was about the pitching. I think the ‘pen did a really good job for us.”
When asked specifically where he saw the Dodgers could have improved with their at-bats, Roberts explained, “We didn’t move balls forward that we had to hit. Kiké carried us tonight, which was great.”
Overall, the Dodgers left 11 runners on base and went 4-for-12 with men in scoring position. One of their missed opportunities came in the third inning when Austin Barnes grounded into a force play with the bases loaded, leaving the game tied.
That Roberts would note an area the team can improve on is hardly a surprise. He often did so last season, even as the Dodgers were on their way to winning a franchise-record 106 games. Ensuring players don’t become complacent is all the more imperative in what many have described as a 60-game sprint this year.
Hernandez keeping it simple, Betts impressed
With Hernandez hoping to help the Dodgers win a World Series in what is a contract year for him individually, it’s brought about a renewed focus to keep matters simple. “I have a quick bat and every time I swing, it kind of looks like it’s max effort,” he said.
“I’ve got to constantly remind myself to slow down. It’s something I thought about a lot throughout the quarantine and going into Summer Camp. Just remind myself I don’t have to do too much to be able to drive the baseball with authority.”
Betts spoke highly about the Dodgers organization when explaining his decision to sign a 12-year contract extension, and he shift that conversation to their lineup Thursday night. “We’re deep,” he said.
“The lineup is deep and it’s just tough to really get through without getting hit around a little bit. Cueto did a good job early, but we battled. We just battled and grinded through the whole game. Finally something clicked and we were able to put up some runs.”
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