LOS ANGELES -- After a pregame ring ceremony marking their first pennant in 29 years, the Dodgers checked more mundane overdue boxes Saturday night: first run of the season, first extra-base hit and first victory, 5-0, over the Giants at Dodger Stadium."I guess going 0-2 the first two games, not
LOS ANGELES -- After a pregame ring ceremony marking their first pennant in 29 years, the Dodgers checked more mundane overdue boxes Saturday night: first run of the season, first extra-base hit and first victory, 5-0, over the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
"I guess going 0-2 the first two games, not scoring any runs, kind of like was a wakeup call," said Enrique Hernandez, whose double keyed a two-run first inning that snapped an 18-inning run drought. "Now we can breathe and the fans can stop panicking and now we go."
Hernandez's sacrifice fly in the third inning cashed in a Chris Taylor triple. The Giants assisted with three errors, including James Farmer's routine fly ball dropped by center fielder Gregor Blanco for two runs in the fourth.
"I told you we would score some runs," joked Matt Kemp, who drove in his first Dodgers run since 2014 with a first-inning RBI single. "We were excited that first inning and things just started flowing."
"We won a game. We won a game," manager Dave Roberts said in mock relief at the start of his postgame media conference.
The 2018 Dodgers, most of whom were part of the spectacular 104-win 2017 season that fell one win shy of a World Series title, were left with equal parts amusement and bewilderment as fans booed them after Friday night's 1-0 loss.
"I knew at some point this year we would score a run," Kemp said with a smile. "We know what we're capable of doing. Tonight we did a good job and we can do better."
"I don't know if it's because the last time we were here we were playing the World Series, but this feels really weird," Hernandez said, searching for an explanation to the sluggish start offensively. "Doesn't feel like it's the regular season yet. It's time. Let's go. If there's something I've learned over the years playing baseball, it's there's no on and off button."
Hernandez said, thankfully, the pitchers have been stepping up while the hitters have been struggling, otherwise "we'd have a greater sense of urgency than we do now."
Roberts credited Taylor's walk leading off the first inning for setting the tone offensively.
Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda kept Joe Panik in the ballpark and reset the panic button. Attacking hitters early, Maeda struck out 10 despite allowing five hits and a walk and was removed after five innings and 90 pitches. It was Maeda's second Major League game with at least 10 strikeouts.
Even the Dodgers defense, rebounding from a four-error mess Friday night, came up big. Second baseman John Forsythe, who committed three errors at third base the night before, made a highlight-worthy play to save a run in the seventh inning. Farmer, starting at third base, helped Maeda escape two jams with defensive gems.
"He looks good in a Major League uniform," Roberts said of Farmer, the third-string catcher. "To have depth where he can catch, play third, and you're comfortable having him in the lineup with the absence of Justin [Turner] is big for us and good for his confidence."
Farmer was part of a heavy right-handed lineup Roberts fielded against Giants lefty Derek Holland. It included Hernandez at shortstop for Corey Seager and Austin Barnes behind the plate. Even with that overload, the Dodgers had only four hits, but turned all three walks by Holland into runs.
"If it's anybody's fault today, it's mine for sure. You can't defend a walk," Holland said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No easy feat: Taylor's ball sprayed near the right-field line went for a triple as Andrew McCutchen came up empty on a do-or-die dive, but there was only a 7 percent catch probability according to Statcast™. McCutchen would have needed to cover 70 feet in 3.9 seconds of opportunity time and nearly did, reaching 29.2 feet/second sprint speed. Meanwhile, Taylor was even faster, running the bases at 29.3 feet/second sprint speed.
Making amends: Forsythe took the early lead for best defensive play of the year in the seventh inning to preserve the shutout. With two out, runners on first and second and playing second base, Forsythe ranged up the middle, threw across his body and retired McCutchen at first base.
GOOD TURNER NEWS
Turner packed his gear, including bats, and said he is headed to Camelback Ranch to continue rehabbing his broken wrist. That means baseball activities will soon resume.
In Sunday's 5:37 p.m. PT series finale, Rich Hill starts for the Dodgers coming off a peculiar Cactus League, in which he struck out 13 in 12 1/3 innings with no walks, but also had a 7.30 ERA. In 11 career starts against the Giants, Hill is 5-2 with a 2.43 ERA.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.