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Dodgers set Opening Day record with 8 homers

Joc, Hernandez lead way with two apiece in win vs. D-backs
@kengurnick
March 28, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The offseason acquisition that might have had the greatest impact on Opening Day was Robert Van Scoyoc leaving the D-backs to become the hitting coach of the Dodgers, who turned Game 1 of the 2019 season into a record-shattering Homerpalooza. The Dodgers went deep eight times, an

LOS ANGELES -- The offseason acquisition that might have had the greatest impact on Opening Day was Robert Van Scoyoc leaving the D-backs to become the hitting coach of the Dodgers, who turned Game 1 of the 2019 season into a record-shattering Homerpalooza.

The Dodgers went deep eight times, an MLB record for Opening Day, in a 12-5 crushing of the D-backs at Dodger Stadium. Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernández slugged a pair of homers each. Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Austin Barnes also homered.

“Only downhill from here for Robert,” joked manager Dave Roberts. “He’s got to feel good about this one. Credit to him and [assistant coaches] Brant Brown and Aaron Bates and the players who buy into what they’re talking about.”

The eight homers also matched a franchise record for a single game, set in 2002 when Roberts was on the club. He said it was a Sunday and he had the day off with an opposing left-hander (Glendon Rusch) pitching.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Pederson, who hit .180 in Spring Training. “Whenever it’s working together like that, it’s an exciting day out there. We all have high expectations.”

The MLB home run record for a single game is 10, by the 1987 Blue Jays. The National League record is nine, by the 1999 Reds.

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Dodgers’ Opening Day HR record
1 -- Joc Pederson, 2nd inning, 420 feet
2 -- Enrique Hernandez, 4th inning, 404 feet
3 -- Austin Barnes, 4th inning, 403 feet
4 -- Corey Seager, 4th inning, 407 feet
5 -- Joc Pederson, 6th inning, 417 feet
6 -- Max Muncy, 7th inning, 399 feet
7 -- Cody Bellinger, 7th inning, 403 feet
8 -- Enrique Hernandez, 7th inning, 400 feet

The Dodgers showed not only that hitting is contagious, but so is clearing fences.

“When you see everybody getting good swings, you want to get a good swing,” said Muncy, who led the Dodgers with 35 homers last year but didn’t have one in Spring Training. “I think it was Seager, maybe, after the first couple of home runs he said, ‘Man, I want to hit one.’ He went out there and hit one.”

So did just about everybody else. Justin Turner and former D-backs outfielder A.J. Pollock were the only position starters who didn’t homer. Four of the home runs were hit off former Dodger Zack Greinke.

“We had a great game plan going into today,” said Roberts. “We have a lot of respect for Zack Greinke and what he’s done and what he’s capable of doing. But for us to win pitches, earn good pitches to hit and take advantage of mistakes out and over. We did a good job using the large part of the field. It was relentless.”

The Dodgers lived and died by the home run last year, finishing first in the NL with a franchise-record 235.

“People knocked us last year, that the only way we score runs is home runs,” said Muncy. “But if that’s the only way we can do it, might as well do it a lot.”

The unprecedented firepower from the Dodgers is a rebuttal to skeptics who are concerned that the offense won’t be the same without Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Yasmani Grandal, Manny Machado and Brian Dozier.

“We shuffled the deck a little with the roster,” said Roberts. “Kind of changed the dynamic a little bit. There was a different feel coming into Spring Training, and it’s carried over. We have to keep it going.”

Roberts shed some light on the successful approach against Greinke.

“There’s a lot of pitches today, just off the plate, to get to a better count and get a good pitch, and that’s what all those guys did,” said Roberts. “We got Zack up to 30 pitches that first inning and stressed him again in the second inning. When we’re doing things like that, we’re pretty dangerous.”

The game also marked the official return to action of Seager, who missed most of last season with Tommy John and hip surgeries. In addition to his homer, he rushed a throw from shortstop that was tracked by Statcast at 82.7 mph. His average “max-effort” arm strength from 2017 was 81.5 mph, so it looks like he’s back to his pre-surgery level.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said Seager. “Still trying to get comfortable again. My arm was totally fine, felt good. Never gave it a thought.”

Up next
Ross Stripling opposes Robbie Ray at 7:10 p.m. PT on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Stripling is just filling in for now with injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill, but he was just filling in early last year and parlayed the opportunity into an All-Star berth. With the left-handed Ray on the mound for Arizona, Chris Taylor will probably start in left field for the Dodgers.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.