LOS ANGELES -- Kirk Gibson threw out the first pitch Thursday, a tribute to the 30th year since he helped the Dodgers win their last World Series. But the Opening Day outcome, a 1-0 loss to the Giants, was more familiar to another spectating Dodgers legend, Sandy Koufax, who saw Clayton Kershaw's ace effort at Dodger Stadium wasted with no run support.
Koufax had to overcome such handicaps back in the day and now it was Kershaw's turn, as the Dodgers couldn't deliver a meaningful hit in their first game without No. 3 hitter Justin Turner, who is out with a fractured left wrist. Kershaw, in fact, had two of their six hits.
"I probably should have hit Clayton third," joked manager Dave Roberts.
The loss was historic for the Dodgers, who hadn't dropped an Opening Day shutout since 1998 in St. Louis (6-0) or one by a 1-0 score since 1930 in Philadelphia (per STATS). It was also a first Opening Day loss for Kershaw, whose franchise-record eighth assignment was ruined by a Joe Panik home run that dropped just inside the right-field foul pole.
"Panik put one good swing on a ball and it cost us a game," said Kershaw, who didn't think Panik launched the 92 mph sidearm fastball far enough. "He clipped it perfectly."
It was the only run Kershaw allowed in six innings, scattering eight hits, mostly soft ones, and striking out seven even though his velocity hovered around 90-91 mph.
"I'd always like to throw harder," said Kershaw. "I'd throw 100 if they let me."
"I thought he made good pitches," Roberts said.
The Dodgers bullpen kept the game close, hoping to give the offense a shot at a Giants bullpen without injured closer Mark Melancon. JT Chargois (making his Dodgers debut), Josh Fields and Tony Cingrani retired all nine batters they faced over the final three innings.
But the Dodgers offense spun its wheels most of the night. It put seven runners on base the first five innings against starter Ty Blach, who was subbing for injured ace Madison Bumgarner, and had runners on base against each of four Giants relievers over the final four innings.
"He's thrown the ball well against us," Roberts said of Blach, who is 2-1 against the Dodgers. "Tough to see, a tough visual early (4 p.m. local start time). Make one mistake to Panik and he kept it fair. Credit to him and we'll be ready tomorrow."
The Dodgers were displeased with plate umpire Mark Wegner's outside-favoring strike zone.
"We weren't sort of synced up with the umpire," said Roberts, who batted Enrique Hernandez fourth and didn't get a hit from any of his top five batters. "Blach was making pitches when he needed to. Uncharacteristically, we punched out 10 times today. We couldn't put at-bats together and put stress on their pitchers."
"We've got them a bunch of times in April," Panik said, referring to 10 games against the Dodgers before May. "Coming here is always a challenge. It's good to get the first one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pitcher's best friend: The Giants turned two inning-ending double-plays behind Blach, getting John Forsythe in the second inning 4-6-3 and Corey Seager in the third, started by Blach on a comebacker for a 1-6-3 twin-killing.
In Gearrin: The biggest at-bat of the game might have been reliever Cory Gearrin's called strikeout on a 3-2 pitch down the middle to Chris Taylor, with runners on second and third to end the bottom of the seventh inning.
"Definitely not a rookie. I feel like a kid. But an old kid." -- Matt Kemp, returning to Los Angeles as a Dodger for the first time since 2014, when asked if he was as excited as a rookie
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kershaw has base hits in six of his eight Opening Day starts.
Alex Wood, coming off a breakthrough All-Star season, is elevated to the No. 2 starter in the rotation and takes the mound Friday night for the Dodgers in the 7:10 p.m. PT game. Wood is 2-2 with a 5.35 ERA in his career against the Giants, but was the winner in his last start against them July 28, going seven innings.
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