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Puig sparks Dodgers to win over Giants

April 1, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- With Justin Turner sidelined indefinitely, the Dodgers need a right-handed presence in the lineup and on Sunday night it was Yasiel Puig, who tapped most of the tools in the kit to key a 9-0 win over the Giants.Puig -- hitless in the first three games --

LOS ANGELES -- With Justin Turner sidelined indefinitely, the Dodgers need a right-handed presence in the lineup and on Sunday night it was Yasiel Puig, who tapped most of the tools in the kit to key a 9-0 win over the Giants.
Puig -- hitless in the first three games -- set in motion the first run on the bases, doubled home another run, scored a third on Yasmani Grandal's RBI single, made a sprawling catch in right field to prevent a run and added two singles as the Dodgers rallied for a split of the four-game opening series. Puig scored again on Enrique Hernandez's two-run double that came as part of the Dodgers' four-run eighth.

"You saw it tonight, when Puig's feeling good, I personally feel there's not a better hitter in the lineup," said Cody Bellinger, who credited a pregame tip from teammate Corey Seager for leading to his first hit of the season and the Dodgers' first home run. "Puig's a presence up there. Whether it's him or not, we just needed a spark. He gave us that spark today. We kind of just rode it."

And they rode starting pitcher Rich Hill, who spun six scoreless innings and credited a shorter warmup routine for helping him last 82 pitches. In the four games, starters Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hill allowed one run in 25 innings, while the Giants went 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position, having won the first two games on Joe Panik solo home runs.
"That's a tribute to Clayton leading the staff," Hill said when asked about the starters feeding off each other's success. "He's having meetings, pulling us together as a unit. That's something we may have not done the last couple of years, but this year guys definitely are more in tune and getting to know each other better and it translates to the field."

Without Turner, their No. 3 hitter and heart of the clubhouse, the Dodgers were blanked in the first two games of this series and scratched out only four hits in Saturday night's win. For now, Puig is the No. 3 hitter, and he looked the part Sunday night, going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI as the offense pounded out 13 hits and had a pair of four-run innings.
Manager Dave Roberts said this of Puig:
"There's a lot of unpredictability, a lot of energy from him and fans feed off of it. When he's into it, playing with fire and energy, we feed off of it. He really impacted the game. No one else has that kind of presence about them."
As usual with Puig, it isn't always textbook. The first Dodgers run scored when Puig got too aggressive and was caught in a rundown, but the Giants failed to execute and a heads-up Seager scored while Panik was late chasing Puig back to first base.
"Today was a special game," said Puig. "Everybody got a hit and the offense is coming back. Fourth game of the season and we're ready for a new season."
Puig in the field: Roberts praised Puig's defense, which included a sprawling catch of Brandon Belt's sinking liner that saved a run in the sixth inning and an aggressive retrieval of Belt's double in the fourth inning that also prevented the Giants from scoring a run.

Seager on the board: Seager was another Dodger getting his first hit of the season, a single leading off the fourth inning, and he scored the first run of the game on San Francisco's botched rundown play.
"We didn't quite execute that," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "Give them credit. I'm sure Joe, if he had to do it over, wouldn't have held the ball quite as long."

Said Puig: "[Hunter] Pence caught the ball and threw to the cutoff man and made a good play, then the throw came to second base and I had to get back to first. I do my crazy stuff and slide in safe at first and Corey scored our first run."
"It did not go unnoticed, the way the ball wasn't traveling, it's not what we're used to seeing in past seasons. For whatever reason, maybe it's thicker air, the ball doesn't fly as well." -- Hill

This Dodgers-Giants series was the first time in MLB history that a team began a season with four shutouts in an opening series, according to STATS. The Dodgers also became the first team in MLB history to hold an opponent to two runs or fewer in a season-opening four-game series and matched the 1915 Phillies for the fewest runs allowed through the first four games of a season. For the first time in Giants history, they failed to score more than one run in their first four games of the season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu makes his 2018 debut Monday in a 6:40 p.m. PT start in Arizona, the opener of a two-city trip. Ryu is 3-3 with a 3.77 ERA in 10 starts against the D-backs.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001.