Kenta Maeda opened his first start of the 2017 regular season by getting ahead 0-2 on Travis Jankowski. Maeda walked Jankowski four pitches later, and the Los Angeles Dodgers trailed the San Diego Padres, 2-0, by the time the inning came to a close.
Maeda called the leadoff walk “regrettable.” He wound up throwing just 75 pitches over five innings. Maeda’s spot came up in the bottom of the fifth, which prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to call on a pinch-hitter, with his team facing a three-run deficit.
Although the Padres pushed across three runs on six hits against Maeda, the right-hander seemed to find a better rhythm as the game wore on.
“Since it was my first outing of the year, maybe I was a little too excited,” Maeda said through an interpreter.
“As a result, I didn’t throw as many strikes as I wanted to. But after that I was able to settle in and get back to my plan.” Maeda was hopeful to remain in the game had his spot not come up. Roberts was leaning toward calling on his bullpen, regardless of what unfolded in the bottom of the fifth.
The second-year manager nonetheless noted Maeda’s improvement after a shaky first inning. “I thought Kenta got better as the game went on,” Roberts said. “That fastball command early wasn’t where it should have been. … But as the game went on, Kenta threw the ball well.”
Maeda threw six shutout innings and hit a solo home run in his MLB debut last season against the same Padres at Petco Park.
If there’s a silver lining to his first start of his sophomore season it’s that there wasn’t much solid contact to be had for the Padres. The 28-year-old is next scheduled to pitch Sunday at Coors Field, in the three-game finale against the Colorado Rockies.