Shane Victorino‘s only been okay since joining the Dodgers, but considering the absolute black hole crew he replaced out there, even that was an improvement. Tonight, Victorino was much more than that, showing why an upgrade in left field was so necessary while factoring into the first four of the Dodger runs.
Victorino put the first run on the board in the third inning by doubling home A.J. Ellis, who had also doubled; he then came around on a Matt Kemp single. In the fifth, he crushed his first homer as a Dodger off of Jeff Karstens, plating himself and pitcher Aaron Harang. (And well-timed, too; as Jon Weisman pointed out earlier today, power from left field for the Dodgers is an increasingly rare sight.)
The newest Dodger’s big game supported another reasonably effective outing from Harang, who was good enough through six innings that I wasn’t quite sure why he was lifted at that point. Ronald Belisario continued his recent struggles by allowing two to score on three hits in the eighth, but Kenley Jansen shut down the Pirates with little trouble in the ninth to start off the series with a win.
In addition to Victorino & Ellis, Kemp & Luis Cruz each had extra-base hits as well. Juan Rivera drove in a big run pinch-hitting for James Loney in the eighth, a run which proved to be huge after Belisario fell apart, but Loney, Mark Ellis, Adam Kennedy & Hanley Ramirez all went hitless. (On the bench, Don Mattingly chipped in with some massive #buntfail.) For Loney, his OBP drops to .297, the lowest it’s been since early March. At least he’s not Juan Uribe, I suppose, who made a rare appearance and of course swung at the first pitch before striking out and looking bad doing so.