When Chad Billingsley threw his last pitch of tonight’s game, he was down 3-1, thanks to having earlier let a two-seam fastball drift over the fat part of the plate which Brandon Belt deposited into the bleachers. Yet you’ll see his name next to the win column in the box score. Hooray for outdated stats! Seriously, though, Billingsley was effective if not quite Kershawesque, allowing just that one mistake while otherwise holding the Giants at bay over six innings. He was followed by Blake Hawksworth, who skated by despite loading the bases in the 7th, Matt Guerrier, who had an uneventful 8th inning…
…and then Jonathan Broxton, who deserves his own goddamn paragraph. He looked totally in command tonight, blowing through the Giants on just nine pitches in the 9th. It was almost as if even he wasn’t sure to expect from himself yesterday, but once he got through that first time out, it was full speed ahead tonight. That was the Broxton we were used to seeing – and the one we weren’t sure if we’d see again.
But the story – beyond the continually inept San Francisco defense – continues to be Matt Kemp, who doubled in the first run of the game in the 3rd, made a sliding catch in the 8th, and basically manufactured the second Dodger run in the 6th inning all by himself. With the Dodgers down 1-0, he led off with a single. Marcus Thames followed by grounding out to Pablo Sandoval at third base; when Sandoval threw Thames out at first, Kemp shocked the stadium by rounding second and heading straight to third, putting himself in position to score on James Loney‘s sacrifice fly.
In previous years, it was the kind of play that would kick off a shitstorm of comments about foolish decisions on Kemp’s part. This year? When he made it safely to third, I tweeted that whatever Davey Lopes was being paid, it needed to be tripled, and I’m pretty sure that nothing I’ve ever said in that medium has ever generated such an overwhelmingly positive response. Kemp has now been on base six of his eight times up this year, and while we should be cautious not to overreact after just two games, he’s looked better than we could have ever imagined. Hey, anyone miss Joe Torre and Bob Schaefer and Larry Bowa? Yeah, me neither.
The Giants, of course, did their best to contribute, because the two runs that came in after Kemp in the 6th did so largely thanks to a throwing error by Sandoval and a fielding gaffe by Jonathan Sanchez. Of the six runs the Dodgers have scored so far, only three have been earned.
Finally, a fond farewell to Ivan DeJesus, who didn’t put the ball in play once in four at-bats, striking out three times with a walk. I’m joking, of course, but not really. Casey Blake is reportedly playing without pain in Arizona and should be back soon, but the team desperately needs another righty bat beyond him. As absolutely no one could have predicted, Loney and Andre Ethier saw nothing but lefties all night, and combined to go 0-for-7. Jay Gibbons is probably not the solution to that particular problem.
Still, things couldn’t have gotten off to a more fortuitious start, right? Two wins for the Dodgers, two losses for the Giants, one loss for the Rockies, two successful saves for Broxton, and massively impressive output from Kemp. Sure, at some point they’re going to have to find some offense that isn’t either hand-delivered by the opposition or is only coming from Kemp, but it’s all fun so far, right?
By my count, six different Dodgers made their team debuts tonight: Hector Gimenez, DeJesus, Thames, Aaron Miles, Guerrier, and Hawksworth. I have absolutely no idea if that’s a record – probably not – but it sure seems like a lot.