Early deficit spoils Dodgers' Opening Day
Bullpen stout after Ryu allows eight runs, hurt by defensive miscues
LOS ANGELES -- From the moment Yasiel Puig went missing Friday morning, this had the look of an ugly home Opening Day for the Dodgers.
The 8-4 loss to the Giants that followed was mostly one ghastly event after another.
"It was a clunker-type game you see and, unfortunately for us, it was the home opener," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "We all feel bad it was the first look Dodgers fans got of us."
They didn't even get a look at Puig, who showed up 45 minutes late and was benched. Matt Kemp -- already miffed at being left out of the starting lineup the day he was activated -- started after all, only to boot the first ball hit his way in center field. Kemp later doubled in a run and went 1-for-4 with a walk.
His error came during a dreadful 37-pitch first inning for starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who didn't have his breaking ball, or much luck. Among other mishaps, second baseman Dee Gordon lost a routine popup in the sun. Gordon said going forward he will wear flip-down shades, which he wasn't wearing Friday.
"I saw the ball go up and I thought it was going in the stands," said Gordon. "When I saw Adrian [Gonzalez] moving toward me, I saw the ball go into the sun and it never came out."
That turned the game into a rout, as nine consecutive Giants reached base after the first two were retired.
A Hanley Ramirez throwing error led to a pair of unearned runs in the second inning. One of them scored on a Brandon Hicks double that Kemp couldn't flag down near the wall, leading fans to chant "We want Puig."
"That wasn't how we drew it up to start this one," manager Don Mattingly said.
Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong had a better day at the plate than on the mound, driving in two runs, but didn't last even long enough to get a win after being given an eight-run lead after two innings.
Vogelsong allowed back-to-back solo home runs to Gonzalez and Andre Ethier in the fourth, then Kemp's double that scored Carl Crawford in the fifth. Vogelsong was chased by a Ramirez single. Ethier battled left-handed reliever David Huff for an RBI single in a seven-pitch at-bat that cut the lead to four.
The bullpen was the pitching highlight for the Dodgers, throwing a seven-inning no-hitter after the game got out of hand. Middle relievers Jose Dominguez, Brandon League and Chris Withrow pitched two hitless innings apiece, combining for 10 strikeouts from 21 batters faced. Jamey Wright finished with a scoreless ninth.
Gordon atoned for the misplay with offense: two hits (one a perfect bunt) and two stolen bases. But he was stranded at third base in the sixth inning when Kemp struck out.
The Dodgers could have been even closer had they cashed in a third-inning threat with runners on first and second and two outs, but Ramirez took three called strikes. Ellis stranded a pair of runners when called out on strikes to end the fifth.
Making his third start in six Dodgers games, having thrown 69 pitches and down by eight runs, Ryu's corner threw in the towel after two innings (his shortest start for the Dodgers) to save him for another day, probably next Thursday with an extra day of rest. Right-hander Josh Beckett, on the disabled list, was scheduled to make a Minor League rehab start Friday night and he could be activated for next Wednesday's game.
"I don't think he got thumped," Mattingly said. "We didn't help him [defensively], that's for sure. I do like the way he handled himself. He could have gotten a little irritated."
Ellis said Ryu had velocity, but "not a great feel for the breaking stuff like he did in San Diego. And he couldn't catch a break."
Here's how Ryu's first inning unraveled: He issued a critical two-out walk to Pablo Sandoval, who went to third on Buster Posey's line double that missed clearing the box-seat railing by a foot or it would have been a two-run homer. Michael Morse singled them home and advanced to second when Kemp mishandled the bouncing ball.
Brandon Belt blooped a single to shallow right field that fell in front of Ethier and scored Morse. Gordon then lost Hicks' popup that fell for a gift double with Belt taking third. Joaquin Arias was walked intentionally to load the bases and bring up Vogelsong, who blooped a single just over shortstop Ramirez to score Belt and Hicks. Angel Pagan singled home Arias.
Hunter Pence walked, the ninth consecutive Giants player to reach base, but Sandoval flied out to right to end the inning.
The Giants successfully challenged a seventh-inning stolen base by Ramirez, the call by umpire Marty Foster overturned and Ramirez called out on a tag by Arias.