LOS ANGELES -- First Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, then Kenley Jansen on Friday night, the Dodgers' two best pitchers beaten by Joe Panik home runs in a pair of shocking 1-0 losses to the Giants to open the season, sending media to the record books and fans into a Panik.The
LOS ANGELES -- First Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, then Kenley Jansen on Friday night, the Dodgers' two best pitchers beaten by Joe Panik home runs in a pair of shocking 1-0 losses to the Giants to open the season, sending media to the record books and fans into a Panik.
The only other time the Dodgers were shut out in the first two games of the season was 50 years ago. The only other team to open a season with back-to-back 1-0 losses was the 1943 Cardinals, who lost to the Reds. The Dodgers lost back-to-back 1-0 games for the first time since 2000 and the Giants won back-to-back 1-0 road games for the first time since 1908. Panik is the first player to homer in back-to-back 1-0 wins.
Add to that Jansen's cutter velocity struggling to touch 90 mph, all of it undermining Alex Wood's spectacular eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball, and it left the Dodgers reassuring the populace that freaking out two games into the season is a little premature.
"Who cares?" Jansen responded repeatedly when pressed about average velocity that at 89 mph was down about 3 miles an hour from last year, after a Spring Training in which he admittedly took it easy for preservation after a grueling 2017. "It's a long season. It's one game. Come back tomorrow and get them out. I'm not frustrated at all. Keep focused."
Manager Dave Roberts was more diplomatic, but just as reassuring even though his team sent the minimum 27 batters to the plate, Johnny Cueto's perfect game ruined by Chris Taylor's single leading off the seventh inning.
"No, that's not how we scripted it," said Roberts. "[Jansen's] first outing in Spring Training, he touched 94. As I've learned, when his velocity is down, it's mechanical. He's a big body guy, but I do think when it's 4 miles an hour, 3 miles an hour, it's not a health thing. He feels great, feels strong. It's not usage. It's a mechanics thing and he'll work through it.
"The ball to Panik was belt-high, 89, kind of a cement mixer right there, in his nitro zone. Very uncharacteristic of Kenley."
And, Roberts insisted, four errors by his club -- three by Logan Forsythe, subbing at third for the injured Justin Turner -- were equally uncharacteristic.
"That'll be the last time, I can assure you, that will happen to Logan," Roberts said. "Just one of those nights, one I'm sure he wants to forget. Very uncharacteristic of our defense."
Then again, there was Wood. Stuck in the bullpen a year ago, he parlayed a breakout, All-Star season in 2017 into the No. 2 starter role in 2018 and began it pitching like an ace, allowing only a perfectly placed chop infield single by Brandon Crawford with two out in the fifth inning.
"I'm sure everybody's freaking out because we lost our first two, but we have a great ballclub," said Wood. "Keep the big picture in mind."
Wood's fastball didn't light up the radar gun either, but he kept all pitches low and the Giants had as much trouble squaring them up as the Astros did when he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against them in the World Series.
"Wood's very deceptive," said Panik. "He made a lot of pitches pitching backwards."
"Woody, to his credit, outpitched [Cueto]," said Roberts. "Went eight innings. Stuff was really good, unfortunately, we couldn't support him."
Ah, yes, run support. Any day now would be nice.
"We had this a couple years ago, it's just more magnified right now," said Roberts. "We're still aware that it's 18 scoreless innings, we understand that. We've got good players. Give credit to those guys, they pitched well against us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Can't cash in: The Giants had their best early chance after Forsythe's fourth-inning error. Panik bunted Austin Jackson to second base, but Andrew McCutchen struck out and Buster Posey grounded to shortstop.
Still got it: Left fielder Matt Kemp, whose defense has been the Dodgers' biggest area of concern, made a long run to flag down Jackson's towering fly on the warning track in the corner to end the top of the eighth inning.
"He just got me." -- Jansen, on the home run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jansen's pickoff of McCutchen at first base in the ninth inning was the first one of Jansen's career and he needed to have the original safe call overturned on review.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Giants achieved what for them was nearly impossible -- creating a baserunner against Wood -- with the help of replay. With one out in the fifth inning, Hunter Pence tapped a grounder to Dodgers third baseman Forsythe, who briefly lost control of the ball. As usual, Pence hustled to first base. He initially was called out, but replays demonstrated otherwise, and the call was overturned.
Kenta Maeda, back in the rotation after his stellar postseason relief stint, starts Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game. Maeda won 13 games last season and is 3-1 with a 5.56 ERA in five career starts against the Giants. In a pregame ceremony, the Dodgers will receive their National League championship rings.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.