Coming off a phenomenal 2013 season that resulted in the Los Angeles Dodgers appearing the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, and Clayton Kershaw acquired his second Cy Young award.
Kershaw also made news when he signed his sever year, $215 million deal, he makes his debut today in his Cactus League debut.
“It’s not a normal Spring Training,” Kershaw told MLB.com. “Tomorrow we’re, in a sense, in the middle of things. We’ve got 19 [days of spring training games] before we play a game that counts. We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency.”
The team along with Kershaw have worked out but lacked energy according to manager Don Mattingly. However Mattingly is hopefully that the Dodgers will pick up their intensity as the season gets closer to beginning. Last season the Dodgers played approximately 36 games.
Kershaw is scheduled not to participate in the games in Australia in order to lighten his work load this season. The Dodgers have a less than a month before they face the Arizona Diamondbacks in a early regular season matchup.
“We’ve got to feel some sense of urgency,” said Kershaw regarding the regular season.
The Dodgers also participated in some interleague games on Monday and Tuesday, before today’s Cactus league game in order to get into baseball rhythm.
Along with Kershaw starting on the mound, Alex Guerrero will start at second base and bat second, along with Yasiel Puig batting third. Chone Figgins makes his Dodger debut as the lead off hitter on Wednesday.
Hyun Jin Ryu out pitched Adam Wainwright in a pitchers duel, along with Yasiel Puig breaking out of his slump with a huge hit that aided the Dodgers over the St Louis Cardinals 3-0.
The Dodgers still trail the Cards 2-1 in the NLCS series, and still have games four and five at Dodger Stadium.
“The playoffs are one-day momentum swings,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Right now I feel like we’ve kind of grabbed it.”
The Dodgers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI double to right that scored Mark Ellis.
Yasiel Puig connected on a pitch he thought would leave the Ravine, watched it sail into right raising his hands in excitement. Puig later saw it bounce off the wall and began to run the bases and ended up at third while clapping his hands igniting the sellout crowd. Carlos Beltran misplayed the ball that bounced off the wall and afforded Puig the triple.
Beltran spoke about the celebration of Puig during that play, “I’m in the outfield,” he said. “I mean, it’s not great. To me, I don’t like it. But what can I say? I don’t play for them. I just play over here. I just need to do my job. It is what it is. As a player, I just think he doesn’t know about how to act.”
Hanley Ramirez obviously felt differently about his fellow teammate, “he brings unbelievable energy every day. When we spoke to him, he told me, ‘I got it today,’ and he did. He’s a great player.”
With Puig stepping out of his slump, the Dodgers got another boost with Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez returned to the line up, which provided them an added boost of momentum and offense.
Ramirez connected on a hit off Wainwright, Carl Crawford burned the bases as he barely beat a tag from Cards catcher Yadier Molina that extended the Dodgers lead in the eight inning 3-0.
“What can I say? It couldn’t be better,” Ramirez said. “Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series.”
Kanley Jansen pitched a perfect inning and picked up the save for the victory.
Adam Wainwright began the game 4-0, picked up the loss. He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, six hits and seven strike outs on the night.
“I felt like tonight if I had got a couple of balls in there, we win the game. I think you just have to tip your hat and move on,” said Wainwright. “I hate to lose like this!”
Ryu was successful in not giving up any runs in the first inning, and picked up his first postseason win as a rookie.
He looked healthier as he sat down 12 out 13 batters on the night. He went seven great innings, gave up three hits along with capturing four strikeouts.
“It’s definitely a big motivation when you see your star players go out there hurt,” Ryu said through a translator. “It really inspires you and motivates you to go out there and do the best you can.”
The Cards didn’t get their first hit until the fifth inning when David Freese got a base hit to right.
“We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re a better club than this.”
Between the solid clutch performance of starter Zack Greinke and two home runs powered by Adrian Gonzalez, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4. Which now forces a game six back in St. Louis on Friday.
Greinke didn’t start begin with his best pitching, however he worked himself out of a bases loaded jam that ended the first inning.
On the brink of elimination, the Dodgers came out with a sense of urgency, as Juan Uribe connected on a single to center that scored Adrian Gonzalez for the 1-0 lead. Greinke helped his own cause when he connected on a single to left that scored Yasiel Puig for the 2-0 as the crowd erupted in celebration.
“That was big. I was real nervous out there with that situation,” Greinke said.
The Cards would quiet the Dodger Stadium crowd when they charged back with two runs of their own in the third, when Carlos Beltran knocked out a RBI triple and Matt Holiday connected on an RBI single.
The Dodgers exploded in the next few innings with home runs from Gonzalez, AJ Ellis, and Carl Crawford for the huge 6-2 lead.
“Guys weren’t ready to lose today,” said Crawford.
When Gonzalez went back to the dugout after his second home run, brought his hands behind his ears and wiggled them like mouse ears. A clear gesture towards the comments that were made in Game 4 by pitcher Adam Wainwright about Gonzalez doing “Mickey Mouse stuff”.
“It’s just having fun,” Gonzalez said. “I’m going to retire them so they’re not talked about once again.”
Brian Wilson had a brilliant performance shutdown performance in the eight inning against the Cards. Wilson’s stock continued to rise with that masterful performance, and his efforts throughout the series.
Kenley Jansen came in the ninth inning and struggled when he gave up two RBI singles to Mike Adams and Pete Kozma that made it a two run game. Jansen settled down for the final out that allowed the Dodgers to live for another game.
The Dodgers trailed the Cards 3-2 in the best of seven series.
Greinke pitched seven concrete innings, allowing two runs on six hits with four strike outs in the win.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he was the first time we faced him,” Beltran said about Greinke. “But guys like that, the best guys in the game, they’re able to regroup and find a way to help their team win.”
Cards starter Joe Kelly gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings of work in the loss.
“We had a couple of opportunities to do something, and we just couldn’t make it happen,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a slightly different outlook on the next upcoming games in St. Louis.
“We’ve kind of become America’s team because everyone wants to see a seventh game,” Mattingly said. “Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody’s for us to win on Friday night.”