Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Left out: Kazmir dominates Padres' bats

 Scott Kazmir did his best Clayton Kershaw impression Tuesday night, and in doing so, the Los Angeles left-handers made a bit of history, as the Dodgers held the Padres to two hits in a 3-0 victory at Petco Park.
Kershaw and Kazmir became the first teammates ever to open the season with consecutive starts of six innings or more, while allowing only one hit. Kazmir blanked the Padres for six frames, striking out five, and the bullpen took care of the rest. For the Dodgers, it's only the third time in franchise history that they've opened the season with consecutive shutouts -- most recently in 1974, when they also blanked the Padres twice.
"The relievers hadn't pitched in a few days, and 75 pitches are lower on the pitch count for sure, but that was the most times [Kazmir's] been up and down this spring since last year," said manager Dave Roberts. "He wanted to go back out but that was my decision. It just made sense to go to the 'pen right there and those guys were lights out."
This marks the first time since 2002 that the Padres have been shut out in successive games to open the season. Cory Spangenberg recorded the club's first hit, an infield single in the first, before Dodgers pitchers retired the next 25 straight. Kenley Jansen recorded the save
"I think it's collective pressing -- guys just really want it right now," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Everybody's always in search of that first hit of the season. When it finally comes, people start to relax. It's the same way with a run. Everybody's in search of that first run of the season. I think guys are going to smile a little bit, be relaxed and go play baseball like they can and be fine."
San Diego starter James Shields, meanwhile, was sharp overall, but was done in by one rocky inning. Shields fanned six over six frames, but allowed three runs in the fourth, two of which came on a Yasiel Puig triple over the head of Padres center fielder Jon Jay.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Seagermeister: Dodgers rookie shortstop Corey Seager singled in the first inning, triggered the three-run fourth inning with a leadoff single and legged out a two-out double in the fifth inning for the third three-hit game of his career.
Tough play for Jay: Before Puig's triple -- on which Jay had no chance -- Adrian Gonzalezhit a rocket to center. The Padres new center fielder backtracked, but angled his body slightly in the wrong direction. He couldn't quite recover, allowing the ball to drop for a double, which set the table for Puig.
"I felt like I made two bad pitches tonight," said Shields. "One to Adrian -- I left it up in the zone and it kind of petered off on Jay. And the one to Puig, I just got too much plate on. I set him up exactly how I wanted to set him up, I just got too much plate."
Three-dog Puig: For the second consecutive game, Yasiel Puig tripled, this time driving in two runs in the fourth and scoring the third run of the inning on Carl Crawford's RBI single.More >
Double 'em up: According to Fangraphs, Alexei Ramirez finished with the second-highest double-play rating in the Majors last season, trailing only Andrelton Simmons. Ramirez, who signed with San Diego during the offseason, showed why he's been so successful, sliding to his left for an impressive snag in the top of the first and making a crisp throw to start an inning-ending 6-4-3.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Padres were blanked by the D-backs in consecutive games to start the 2002 season, with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling at the top of their game. But the Padres broke out for eight runs in the third game that season, an 8-7 victory in which they scored three runs in the top of the ninth.
WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: After starring in Japan, Kenta Maeda makes his Major League debut Wednesday night when he starts for the Dodgers. A.J. Ellis, who caught Kershaw's seven scoreless innings Opening Day, returns behind the plate.
Padres: Andrew Cashner debuts Wednesday, looking to put a rocky 2015 season in the rear-view mirror. Throughout his career, Cashner been very good in the month of April, having posted a 2.51 ERA. He allowed more unearned runs than any pitcher in the Majors last season but figures to get a boost from the club's improved defense this year.

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