The Dodger Stadium setting was a familiar one. So too were the lofty expectations that hovered over the Los Angeles Dodgers when they took the field Thursday afternoon for an Opening Day matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A prohibitive favorite to win a seventh consecutive National League West title, the Dodgers are also among the top choices to at minimum reach the 2019 World Series. It would mark their third consecutive trip to the Fall Classic, which few teams in MLB history have accomplished.
And while the Dodgers appeared to suffer from a hangover of defeat on Opening Day last season, there was no such feeling in a 12-5 thumping of the Diamondbacks. They set an MLB record for most home runs on Opening Day with eight, which also matched a franchise best for any game.
Following the impressive win, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts discussed the mindset his team had, via SportsNet LA:
“I don’t if it’s an adjective or adverb, but ‘focused.’ It was relentless. Team win all the way around.”
The Dodgers faced some questions heading into the start of the season, namely how the team would cope with Clayton Kershaw not taking the ball in an opener for the first time since 2010, plus how the lineup would shake out.
Hyun-Jin Ryu proved to be a worth successor, limiting the Diamondbacks to just one run as he collected eight strikeouts. Meanwhile, Joc Pederson rewarded Roberts’ faith in opting for him over A.J. Pollock in the leadoff spot by going 3-for-5 with two home runs and a game-high four RBI.
While it was merely one win in a long season, there are early signs the Dodgers will respond well to consecutive losses in the World Series. That certainly was not the case last season, as a 16-24 start marked the worst in Los Angeles franchise history.