Win ceremony: Turner, Buehler key LA victory

April 10th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Clayton Kershaw wore his World Series ring, sporting an even bigger smile than the burden he said he carried as the Dodgers chased a title over the course of his career. Justin Turner pumped up the crowd as he walked out onto the field to receive his first World Series ring. Mookie Betts collected his second ring and got his first ovation from the crowd as a member of the Dodgers.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Dodgers weren’t able to celebrate how they would’ve liked. There was no parade down the streets of Los Angeles. There was no champagne celebration after the game. In many ways, Friday’s ring ceremony was the first time they were able to fully celebrate what they accomplished last season.

But now that the Dodgers have their World Series rings, their focus now is on winning another title. They’re off to a good start, as the Dodgers improved to 6-2 with a 1-0 win over the Nationals at Dodger Stadium on Friday. It was only the third time in franchise history the Dodgers won a game 1-0 on the day of their home opener. It was also done in 1996 and 2001.

“It was obviously a very, very special day and a special moment that I’ll never forget,” Turner said after the game. “And then to go out and follow up and get the win on the home opener, ring day, it was huge. It was just great to have fans back at Dodger Stadium. It’s good to be home.”

Walker Buehler, who seems to thrive during the biggest moments, played up to the occasion yet again in the Dodgers’ home opener. The right-hander tossed six scoreless innings, striking out four. It was the 14th time Buehler has completed six or more scoreless innings in an outing since 2018, and he is tied for the fourth-most in the Majors.

“It’s a special fastball,” said Dodgers catcher Will Smith. “They weren’t really squaring it up that much, and we were just letting it ride. He was getting ahead of guys, and he likes to finish guys off with it. That’s what he was doing today.”

Given that Turner’s return to the Dodgers was uncertain as he entered free agency last season, it was fitting that the Southern California native was responsible for the only run in the Dodgers’ first game as defending champions in 32 years.

“All that went into this past winter and the uncertainties, so for him to come back here and then homer in our home opener when we got presented our rings, it was very fitting,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Holding on to a 1-0 lead, Roberts leaned on Victor Gonzalez in the seventh; Blake Treinen in the eighth; and in a surprising move, Roberts turned to Corey Knebel, and not Kenley Jansen, to earn the save in the ninth. Roberts said the Dodgers were trying to stay away from Jansen, who would’ve pitched in his third game in four days. Knebel responded by striking out the side on just 10 pitches.

“The bullpen was great,” Roberts said.

It was also an all-around great day for the Dodgers. Now that they have their rings on their fingers, it’s time for them to prove they can do it again.

“We didn’t get to celebrate after the World Series when we should’ve been celebrating, have a big parade back with our fans,” Smith said. “So honestly, it makes me even more hungry to win this year and throw that huge party.”