Future Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez and All-Star Russell Martin, arguably the team’s two most potent hitters, combined to go 0-6 with two walks. How many Dodger teams would have seen their chances of victory completely disappear if their top two hitters didn’t contribute, especially with Dodger-killer Jake Peavy on the mound? Just the thought of lineups that included Cesar Izturis, Dave Roberts, and Juan Pierre every day makes my eyes bleed.
But not this team, on this night, and one has to hope that this is a sign for the rest of the season. Tonight, we saw how strong this lineup is going to be 1-8 – there’s no weak links here. Well, except for Casey Blake, who struck out three times in going 0-4. But that can’t keep up, right? Right?
Tonight’s not a night for focusing on the bad, so let’s look at the good:
Matt Kemp is going to be a monster. What’s more impressive? The blast he hit out to dead center vs. Peavy, or the diving catch in the 6th inning that prevented the ensuing rally from getting any worse? For some reason, people seem to think that Kemp can’t handle center, but we’ve always said that his inexperience was the cause of any issues out there. Besides for the homer, Kemp only struck out once against one of the best pitchers in baseball – and drew a walk, too. Remember when we had Pierre or Andruw Jones in center? Yeah, me neither.
Cory Wade has balls of steel. After Kuroda began to falter in the 6th, Wade entered with the bases loaded and a two-run lead, with Kevin Kouzmanoff at the plate. If the Padres were going to have a prayer, this was going to be it, and after rumors of arm soreness this spring, it wasn’t hard to question Wade here. Kouzmanoff grounded weakly back to Wade, and that was really that for the Padres offense. That’s exactly the kind of situation that could have spiraled out of control for the Dodgers in previous years, and Wade locking it down may have been the biggest moment of the game.
James Loney is going to be better than last year. Not that he was bad last year, but somewhat underwhelming. 2009′s looking better already! In addition to some nice defensive plays, Loney led the way with three hits, the most important of which was his first. With the bases loaded and two outs, Loney came up with Peavy on the ropes. You don’t get a whole lot of opportunities against a guy like that, and you can’t squander them when they happen – especially with the history of TOTAL FAIL LA’s had against Peavy. Loney pokes a 2-RBI single to left field, and the Dodgers never trailed.
No more questioning Jonathan Broxton as closer. Did you see that 9th inning? I almost felt bad for the Padres. Well, almost, because screw them. But Broxton comes in throwing absolute gas. I know you can’t ever trust the TV gun, but when that’s saying 99s and 100s, then he’s still throwing at least 96 or 97, and that’s plenty good enough. Strikeout, popout, strikeout, and the game was done. I think we’re all going to enjoy watching the Bull this year.
One down, 161 to go!