Friday, August 4, 2017
Now that the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of business in the Hall of Fame game, they're going to hang around for a couple of days.
Why not? The boss is about to get a gold jacket.
With no stars and few starters on the field Thursday night, the Cowboys edged the Arizona Cardinals 20-18. The idea, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, was to get the young players lots of action, win the game, then get ready for owner Jerry Jones' induction on Saturday night.
So the team will be off Friday, practice in Cleveland on Saturday, then tour the hall before the evening ceremonies.
"This is a great experience not only for Jerry and the Jones family," Garrett said, "but for the entire Dallas Cowboys family. We all take ownership in his induction."
Garrett saw lots of value in playing an extra exhibition game.
"As a player you learn so much more in game situations than in any other environment," he said. "There's nothing like putting on a uniform and going on a real football field and playing versus an opponent."
Rookie Sam Irwin-Hill, unlikely to beat out Dallas veteran Dan Bailey for the placekicking job, made field goals of 23 and 43 yards, the latter providing the winning points in the fourth quarter.
The opening half featured a handful of big plays, with Arizona's third-string quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, consistently finding open receivers down the middle.
"There were a couple specific plays by the defense on those first couple of drives," Garrett said. "Blown assignments on a big third-down conversion, and it wasn't physical enough. It wasn't aggressive enough."
Dallas' Kellen Moore, who missed last season with an ankle injury, had some success passing down the sidelines, but his second-quarter interception by Brandon Williams in the end zone ruined a drive.
With the likes of Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu sitting it out, Arizona could be pleased with the work of backup running backs Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington, who both scored on short runs.
"It was great to see the offense move the ball and get touchdowns on those first two drives," Fitzgerald said. "O-line, running game, passing the ball, that was impressive and I'm happy for every one of those guys."
And with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Jason Witten, Sean Lee and their strong offensive line pretty much inactive, the Cowboys could point to veteran RB Alfred Morris and receivers Brice Butler and Rico Gathers.
Morris showed off a spin move worthy of Elliott on a 25-yard run, Butler had 78 yards on two catches in the first half, and Gathers, a hoops starter at Baylor, made a 26-yard touchdown catch.
Gathers also made a diving reception and slipped a pair of tackles on a 17-yard play early in the third period. That led to Uzoma Nwachukwu's 14-yard TD catch from fourth-string rookie Cooper Rush. The former rebounding standout had three catches for 59 yards.
"He's gotten so much better," Garrett said of Gathers, a practice squad player in 2016. "He has a tremendous willingness to work and has come a long way, but has a long way to go."
Generally, though, it was a sloppy exercise befitting the lack of star power.
TURF'S UP: At least the turf held up - unlike a year ago, when the game was canceled for safety reasons. The new field passed NFL operations directors' approval, and the footing was steady all night.
PREGAME INTROS: Jones drew the loudest cheers - no surprise considering the overwhelmingly pro-Cowboys crowd of 21,126 at the renovated Hall of Fame Stadium - in pregame introductions of the seven men who will be inducted into the shrine Saturday night.
Jones, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner, Kenny Easley, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Morten Andersen walked along midfield between the competing teams, often shaking hands with current players.
Hall of Famer Jackie Smith, who played tight end for both the Cowboys and Cardinals, performed a rousing national anthem.
TAKE A TABLET: Referee Jerome Boger was the first to use a Microsoft Surface tablet to handle replay reviews under a new NFL system. Final say on calls is being made by the officiating staff in New York, in consultation with the referee.
Dallas challenged a down-by-contact call in the third quarter that negated a Cardinals fumble. The verdict came quickly and the call was confirmed.
GO FOR 2: Arizona kicked the extra point after its second touchdown, but Dallas lined up illegally. So the half-the-distance penalty brought the ball inside the 2-yard line. Gabbert threw incomplete, but another flag was thrown for interference. Then Gabbert sneaked in from about the 1 to make it 15-0.
UP NEXT: Dallas will travel to face the Los Angeles Rams on August 12 in the first full week of the preseason and the Cardinals will host the Raiders August 12.
Friday, April 7, 2017
A new season, manager and vibe have the Arizona Diamondbacks off to their best start in four years.
Doing it against their NL West rival, a team that had their number at Chase Field all last season, makes it that much sweeter.
Jake Lamb hit a three-run homer and the Diamondbacks beat San Francisco 9-3 Thursday night to win a four-game series over the Giants at Chase Field for the first time in nine years.
"At the end of the day, you win a game like today, a series against the Giants, it's well deserved. It's earned," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "It's a great way to start the season."
The Diamondbacks needed seven tries to win a home series in 2016 but are 3-1 for the first time since 2013 in Lovullo's first season as manager. And they did it against the Giants, who won nine of 10 in the desert last year.
David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt each hit solo homers off Jeff Samardzija (0-1), and Peralta and A.J. Pollock each had two RBIs.
Jorge De La Rosa (1-0) got one out and walked two after replacing Robbie Ray in the sixth inning to start off a strong night by Arizona's bullpen.
The Giants took an early 2-0 lead only to go flat as Arizona raced away from them. Aaron Hill hit a solo homer and San Francisco had four hits to open a season 1-3 for the first time since 2012.
"We've done a good job here in the past. It's disappointing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Samardzija struck out five over the first two innings but gave up consecutive opposite-field homers in the fourth: Peralta to left, Goldschmidt to right. Goldschmidt's was career hit No. 848 , passing Steve Finley for second on Arizona's career list. He has a ways to go for No. 1, though - Luis Gonzalez had 1,337.
Lamb put Arizona up 5-3 with his three-run homer in the sixth inning.
Samardzija allowed six runs and eight hits and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings.
"Those are tough ones right there," Samardzija said. "When you don't have good stuff and it doesn't go your way, you know what you need to work on. But when you have your stuff and it ends up like that, you kind of go back and dissect a couple of pitches in the game that made the difference."
Ray retired the first seven batters until Hill hit a belt-high pitch over the plate well over the wall in left for his first homer. Brandon Crawford had a run-scoring single off Ray in the fourth inning, and Buster Posey chased him with a run-scoring double that put the Giants up 3-2 in the sixth.
Ray allowed three runs and three hits and struck out six in 5 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks will follow the lead of the Colorado Rockies and add a humidor at Chase Field.
Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that the team hopes to have it in place in about a month to help with pitchers' grip on the balls.
Colorado installed a humidor in 2002 and is the only team in MLB with one.
DODGE AND TOSS
Arizona's Randall Delgado had to do a little dodging in the seventh inning, when a broken bat flew over his head as he tried to field the ball. The right-hander managed avoid the shard from Gorkys Hernandez's bat and throw him out at first.
Giants: CF Denard Span missed his third straight game due to left hip tightness, but he stretched before Thursday's game and is hoping to play Friday in San Diego.
Giants: RHP Matt Cain makes his 2017 debut to start a three-game series in San Diego. The three-time All-Star went 4-8 with a 5.64 ERA and was limited to 21 appearances due to injuries.
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller makes his first start of the season when Arizona kicks off a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians. Miller went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA in his first season with the Diamondbacks in 2016.
After going 1 for 27 with runners in scoring position through the first three games of the season, the Seattle Mariners were desperate to get a big hit when it mattered Thursday night.
Instead of just one, they got two.
Jarrod Dyson hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth inning and Jean Segura drove in a run later in the inning to lift the Mariners to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros.
"It was good to get that hit," Dyson said. "It was even better to get the win."
The game was tied at 2 entering the ninth before Danny Valencia walked with one out and Carlos Ruiz was plunked by Ken Giles (0-1). They were replaced by pinch-runners Taylor Motter and Guillermo Heredia before Dyson's fly ball landed between left fielder Nori Aoki and center fielder Jake Marisnick to allow Motter to score and put Seattle on top.
Segura singled with two outs to send Heredia home for an insurance run that made it 4-2.
"It has been a struggle for us getting the big hits driving some guys in," manager Scott Servais said. "We had some chances early in the game and were scuffling ... we were due to have a couple fall in."
Dan Altavilla (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win, and Edwin Diaz struck out two in a perfect ninth for his first save.
Mitch Haniger homered in the third and Kyle Seager's RBI tied it in the sixth to help the Mariners to their first win of the year after dropping the first three games of this series.
George Springer hit a leadoff homer for Houston, and Marwin Gonzalez added his second homer of the year with a solo shot in the third to put the Astros up 2-1, but they had trouble stringing hits together after that.
"We haven't swung the bats perfectly but again you focus on the good stuff," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We won three out of four against a division opponent."
Houston starter Joe Musgrove allowed five hits and two runs while walking three in five-plus innings.
Ariel Miranda yielded five hits and two runs in five innings in his 11th major league start.
Springer's 11th career leadoff homer gave Houston a 1-0 lead. It was his second straight at-bat with a home run after his three-run shot with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 13th lifted the Astros to a 5-3 win on Wednesday night.
The Mariners tied it in the third inning on Haniger's two-out homer .
Gonzalez put Houston back on top when he sent Miranda's first pitch of the third inning into the seats in left field to make it 2-1.
Springer also provided a defensive highlight on a foul ball hit by Jean Segura with two outs in the fifth inning. He chased it down the right field line, reached back into the crowd to catch it before tumbling backward over the wall and into the stands while holding onto it to end the inning.
The Astros had a chance to extend their lead in the fifth inning when they had the bases loaded with no outs. But Jose Altuve grounded into a double play and Miranda retired Carlos Beltran after intentionally walking Carlos Correa.
Astros: Houston starter Collin McHugh, who is on the 10-day disabled list after dealing with "dead arm" this spring, allowed three hits and three runs in one inning of a rehabilitation start for Triple-A Fresno on Thursday night.
HE THREW WHERE?
Dillon Overton, who was activated from the paternity list Thursday, managed to get his throwing in while he was away from the team for the birth of his first child this week. While waiting at the hospital for little Oliver Ray Overton to arrive he trudged out to the hospital parking lot and enlisted his brother-in-law and father-and-law to catch him.
The left-handed reliever's workout caused a bit of a stir among those parking their cars.
"There were lots of people," he said. "They didn't really say anything but they were just staring at me like: `What the heck are you doing?' But let them think what they want, I had to do my work."
Mariners: Yovani Gallardo will make his Mariners debut when he opposes Jesse Chavez as Seattle starts a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Gallardo went 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA in 23 starts for Baltimore in 2016.
Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers makes his 2017 debut when he opposes Kansas City's Jason Vargas when the Astros open a three-game series against the Royals on Friday. Fiers went 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 games last season.
Matt Harvey walked from the mound to the dugout and raised his glove with his pitching hand, acknowledging fans chanting his name.
At least for a night, The Dark Knight returned.
"I obviously have one less rib, but I feel strong and ready to go," Harvey said after leading the New York Mets over the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Thursday in his return from major surgery.
Harvey (1-0) won for the first time since May 30. In his previous appearance on July 4, he was chased by Miami in the fourth inning and stared at the field from the dugout, a white towel draped over his left shoulder, a despondent look on his face.
"I remember getting booed off the field last year, so I think kind of flipping that switch a little bit and keep moving forward," he said. "It was exciting."
Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead, two-run double and Wilmer Flores a two-run homer against Jaime Garcia (0-1), who made his Atlanta debut after eight seasons with St. Louis.
A year after returning from Tommy John surgery and helping the Mets reach the World Series for the first time since 2000, Harvey struggled to a 4-10 record with a 4.86 ERA in 2016. He felt numbness in his fingertips against the Marlins and did not pitch again, undergoing surgery July 18 to correct a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome injury caused by the compression of nerves, blood vessels or both in the area between the neck and armpit.
Harvey was 0-4 with a 5.89 ERA in five spring training starts. The 28-year-old right-hander's fastball was consistently in the 93-94 mph range - even reaching 96 mph - and he needed six pitches to get through the first inning, eight in the second, 10 in the third and 11 in the fourth.
"You're going to look hopefully in the middle of the summer and he's going to be back to where he was," Mets manager Terry Collins said . "Now, is he going to be throwing 98 again? I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball. But I think Matt Harvey can pitch as good as anybody when he's at 93 to 95, and he showed it tonight."
With the Mets in Harvey's favored blue jerseys for the first time this season, he allowed three hits in 6 2/3 innings, leaving after Matt Kemp's second solo home run. Harvey threw 55 of 77 pitches for strikes, fanned four and walked none in a game that breezed by in 2 hours, 28 minutes.
"The demeanor, even when he ran out to the bullpen, reminded me of a couple of years ago," said d'Arnaud, the Mets catcher.
Acquired from the Cardinals in a December trade, Garcia gave up four runs and six hits in six innings, and both batters he walked scored. Garcia became the Braves' first left-handed starter since Manny Banuelos on Sept. 6, 2015.
"The way Harvey was going, any runs were probably too many tonight," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
D'Arnaud doubled to the left-center gap on a hanging curveball in the fifth for a 2-1 lead and Flores drove a low breaking ball about 3 feet from the left-field foul pole in the sixth. Flores hit .340 with 11 home runs in 100 at-bats against lefties last year.
Trailing 6-2, Atlanta loaded the bases in the eighth before Fernando Salas struck out Dansby Swanson.
Kemp, who also has four doubles this week, homered in the fifth and seventh innings for his 11th multihomer game.
"Long season," he said. "Just got to keep going."
AT THE TOP
Mets leadoff hitter Jose Reyes singled in the seventh, ending his 0-for-12 start. Braves leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte reached on a broken-bat infield hit in the eighth, his first hit in 13 at-bats this season.
Brandon Phillips went 0 for 3. He had gotten a hit in all 35 of his previous road games at the Mets, the longest road hitting streak at one opponent since Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals hit in 46 consecutive games at Brooklyn from 1933-37.
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard, who left the opener after six innings because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand, expects to start Sunday. The Mets are giving him an extra day of rest. "They don't have to amputate it," quipped Syndergaard, who has been putting a cream on it.
Braves: With poor weather forecast, the Braves flip-flopped their rotation and RHP Mike Foltynewicz (9-5 last year) will start Friday's series opener at Pittsburgh. RHP R.A. Dickey (10-15 with Toronto) was pushed back to Saturday because the Braves worried his knuckleball might be less effective on a wet night.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler is to start Friday's series opener against Miami, his first big league appearance since Sept. 25, 2014. Wheeler injured his elbow pitching against Miami in a spring training game on March 9, 2015, and had surgery 16 days later to repair a torn right ulnar collateral ligament.
All it took was two blown leads and an extra-inning loss in Game 3 of the young season for Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker already to be defending his relief corps.
"I mean, my bullpen - I love my bullpen," Baker said. "These guys are going to be one of the best, if they're not already."
They were not at their best on this night. Justin Bour doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 10th after the Marlins erased deficits in the eighth and ninth innings, and Miami earned its first win by beating Washington 4-3 Thursday.
The Nationals went into this season without an experienced, established closer after losing Mark Melancon to free agency. Instead, Blake Treinen won a spring training competition and he, Shawn Kelley and Sammy Solis all had a hand in this defeat, as did Joe Blanton.
"Whether they're closing or pitching in the eighth or getting left-handed guys out, it doesn't matter," said Ryan Zimmerman, whose tiebreaking homer in the eighth briefly put Washington up 3-2. "But I think everybody in this room has confidence in all those guys down there, in whatever they're asked to do."
In a game delayed by rain for more than an hour both at the start and in the middle of the sixth, Bour sent a shot off Blanton (0-1) down the left field line. That brought home J.T. Realmuto, whose single in the 10th was his third hit of the game, including a two-run homer in the eighth off Kelley that made it 2-all.
David Phelps (1-1) earned the win with a scoreless ninth. A.J. Ramos, Miami's sixth pitcher, worked the 10th to earn his first save.
Washington entered the eighth with a 2-0 edge thanks to homers from Adam Eaton and Jayson Werth.
But Kelley walked Christian Yelich then gave up Realmuto's second homer of the season.
"That's when I usually make my best pitches," Kelley said, "and I didn't tonight."
After Zimmerman put Washington back in front, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore - a former member of the Nationals - delivered an RBI single up the middle off Treinen with a 2-2 count and two outs in the ninth.
"I love those guys over there," Moore said, "but right now I'm with the Marlins, and I love these guys over here."
Treinen came in with a man on third, put there by Solis.
"I got myself in a position where I should've had success," said Treinen, who saved the first games of the series. "I just didn't execute the pitch that I wanted to throw. It came back to bite us."
"Once you lose the first two, you're basically in salvage mode, right? You never want to walk out of here 0-3 to start the season." - Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
LONG DAY'S NIGHT
A game that began 1 hour, 20 minutes late because of showers was held up for another 63 minutes in the middle of the sixth.
"A long game. Took a long time," Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said. "I was up pretty early today and leaving pretty late."
The Nationals were taking a bus ride to Philadelphia for their next series, departing about an hour after game's end.
Both starters left after the rain delay. Gonzalez allowed seven singles and struck out seven in six scoreless innings. Miami's Tom Koehler gave up one run in five innings.
On a sinking liner by Realmuto in the second, RF Bryce Harper ducked to shield his eyes from the late-afternoon sun and awkwardly stumbled to the ground - but managed to make the catch, earning applause from Gonzalez.
Marlins: Open a three-game series at the Mets on Friday, with LHP Wei-Yin Chen on the mound.
Nationals: NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer pitches Friday against the Phillies.
Kendrys Morales gave the Blue Jays a much-needed lift after Toronto started the regular season with consecutive losses.
Morales hit his fourth career grand slam, Marcus Stroman pitched 6 1/3 effective innings and the Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Thursday night.
"It was just a matter of time before the guys started heating up," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Morales homered off Blake Snell (0-1) in the third. Stroman (1-0), the MVP of last month's World Baseball Classic, allowed one run and six hits in his 2017 debut.
"It feels really satisfying knowing that we had two defeats already, and it's something that is hard to do," Morales said through a translator. "So I'm just happy that it happened in a win."
Snell gave up five runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. The lefty struck out five and walked five.
Darwin Barney had a one-out single in the third, and Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista both drew two-out walks before Morales sent an 0-1 pitch into left-center field seats for a 4-0 lead.
"I'm upset about the walks." Snell said.
Toronto didn't homer in losing both games during a series at Baltimore. The Blue Jays have never gone homerless in their first three games of a season.
The Blue Jays signed Morales to a $33 million, three-year contract during the offseason to fill the offensive void left by the departure of Edwin Encarnacion, who joined Cleveland as a free agent. Morales hit 30 homers and drove in 93 runs last season for Kansas City.
Toronto went up 5-0 on Barney's bunt that first baseman Logan Morrison was charged with an error for mishandling in the seventh. Barney had two hits and walked once.
Stroman, who induced three double plays, left after giving up Morrison's run-scoring single in the seventh.
"I threw a lot of sinkers today," Stroman said. "I never come in with necessarily a certain game plan. It's more like I see how everything is working and kind of go from there."
Jason Grilli came in for Joe Smith with two on and one out in the ninth and threw a run-scoring wild pitch before getting his first save.
Tampa Bay right fielder Steven Souza Jr. remained in the game after colliding with Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin during the fifth while trying to score on Beckham's grounder to Stroman. Souza needed assistance after bruising his left leg, but was back out to play defense in the sixth.
"Some scrapes," Souza said. "The shin guard came down on my shin. Nothing serious."
Souza had three hits, including a pair of doubles.
Blue Jays: Closer Roberto Osuna (neck spasms) will throw in a simulated game Saturday and is expected to be ready for Toronto's home opener Tuesday night against Milwaukee. ... 2B Devon Travis, slowed by a bruised right knee during spring training, got a planned day off from the starting lineup. He had offseason surgery to remove a small flap of cartilage from the knee.
Rays: OF Colby Rasmus, coming back from hip surgery, started a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte and was hitless in three at-bats.
Steve Pearce hit leadoff for the Jays and went 0 for 4.
It's a role he may fill on a regular basis when Travis gets a day off.
Blue Jays: LHP Francisco Liriano will make his first start of the season Friday night against the Rays. Liriano's lone outing at Tropicana Field last year came out of the bullpen Sept. 2 when he allowed three runs without recording an out.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese, Friday night's starter, was 8-8 last year after starting the season by winning his first six decisions.
Andrew Triggs had trouble spotting his fastball early. He felt better after escaping a jam - and early burst by his Oakland teammates helped, too.
Triggs pitched into the sixth inning for his second major league win, Ryon Healy homered and the Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 Thursday for an opening four-game split.
"When he's throwing the ball over the plate ... it's got so much movement on it, he's just a tough guy to get a good swing on," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "As the game went along it seems like his stuff got a little better, then (he) got a lead and got some confidence behind it."
Triggs (1-0), who won at St. Louis on Aug. 28, allowed an unearned run, four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old right-hander gave up Albert Pujols' RBI groundout in the third and left after consecutive singles in the sixth.
"It was about getting my fastball command a little bit more honed in as things got along there," Triggs said. "That inning by us was absolutely huge with Healy really breaking it open."
Healy homered during a four-run third.
Liam Hendricks, Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle combined for hitless relief.
Tyler Skaggs (0-1) had gotten a victory in his first start each season from 2013-16 but that streak came to an end as he gave up five runs, five hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings.
"I was rushing out of the stretch and I let some pitches get away from me," Skaggs said. "The one to Healy ... I wanted the pitch outside and it was right down the middle. I have to pitch to my strengths and not their strengths."
Adam Rosales scored from first when Marcus Semien's routine single to center deflected off Mike Trout's glove and rolled to the wall for an error. Khris Davis hit a sacrifice fly and Healy hit a two-run homer with two outs that landed halfway up the bleachers in left.
Trevor Plouffe added an RBI single in the sixth.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia had to dip into his bullpen a lot more than he wanted to in this series because none of his starters got past the sixth inning. "We know there are some things that have to evolve," he said. "Once we can get there, we can get our bullpen where we want to be on a nightly basis."
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards was feeling better, a day after leaving his first start of the season with cramping in his biceps. He missed most of last season with an elbow injury and his appearance Wednesday was his first in 11 months. "Our medical staff is going to look into things," Scioscia said. "They're confident that it's not connected to his other situation last year. Garrett's comfortable when he talks about it so hopefully this is just a little bump in the road." ... 3B Luis Valbuena (right hamstring strain) has been hitting in the batting cage and could begin running on the field early next week.
Athletics: RHP Sonny Gray (shoulder strain) is scheduled to throw his second bullpen session Friday when Oakland plays in Texas. . RHP John Axford has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain in his right shoulder. He has been told not to throw for at least seven days.
Angels: RHP Jesse Chavez is to make his Angels debut on Friday against Seattle when Los Angeles opens a six-game homestand.
Athletics: RHP Raul Alcantara is slated to make his third career start against the Rangers on Friday in Texas. Alcantara went 1-1 against the Rangers last season.
Yasiel Puig is trying to improve his punctuality, and a noon start Thursday made for an unusually early morning.
This year, though, Puig is having little trouble getting going early.
Puig hit two home runs, drove in four runs and stole a base to help the Los Angeles Dodgers rout the San Diego Padres 10-2.
The Cuban outfielder has appeared on his best behavior so far this season, and he's also been producing big time for Los Angeles. He's batting .417 with three homers through four games.
"You have to behave yourself and get here early and prepare," Puig said through an interpreter. "That's how things are going the right way."
Puig was 2 for 3 and had two walks. He hit a two-run homer to left off the first pitch from Jered Weaver (0-1) in the second inning. The 26-year-old homered off Weaver again in his next at-bat in the fourth, belting another two-run shot to left to give the Dodgers a four-run lead.
"The thing with Yasiel is, early on in his career, the league didn't know how to approach him," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He was hitting a lot of balls out over, and the league was learning from him, and the last couple of years, you see the league has adjusted. He's had to make those adjustments as well. Right now, he's being disciplined with his approach and continues to work through mechanics.
"It's more credit now that he's started off this series well in the sense that they're pitching him tough. He's swinging at strikes and taking balls. We look for him to sustain this."
It was the first multihomer game for Puig since June 4, 2013, his second game in the majors. Four years ago, Puig had an electrifying summer to burst into the majors. He's had plenty of issues, though, including speeding tickets, promptness and immaturity. In 2014, he was benched on opening day for being late.
Puig was relegated to the minor leagues last year, but he has been given another chance. He's making good on that early on.
Asked if he feels like a different person, Puig said: "Yes. I think I'm a little more mature. I'm continuing to work. I know I'm a little older. I've been getting older as it goes. I need to keep working and preparing so I can keep helping everyone I'm trying to help."
Brandon McCarthy (1-0), who had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and an ensuing case of the yips last year, faced 17 batters - two over the minimum - through five innings. He allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
"It's nice to go out and not have things go haywire and not have a mess on your hands," McCarthy said.
Weaver pitched in a different uniform for the first time in his career after spending 11 years with the Los Angeles Angels. He allowed four earned runs, five hits and three walks in five innings.
"The walks, in general, is what killed me," Weaver said. "I pride myself on not walking people. Obviously two bad pitches and there you go, four runs."
The Padres issued 11 walks.
Wil Myers hit a two-run home run off McCarthy in the sixth, but the Padres had just six hits and couldn't get much going offensively.
The Dodgers won their home-opening series, 3-1.
In the seventh inning, two-way player Christian Bethancourt loaded the bases, then walked Andrew Toles to score Puig.
Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson was ejected in the seventh inning after he slammed his bat and helmet after being called out on strikes.
"He's emotional and we love that about him and he cares," Roberts said. "But that's a game you just can't get thrown out of."
Padres: Catcher Hector Sanchez left the game for precautionary reasons with dizziness (concussion-like symptoms) after taking a foul ball off his mask in the seventh inning.
Dodgers: Reliever Pedro Baez (right hand) threw a bullpen session two days ago and came out of that well, but Roberts wasn't yet sure when he would throw again.
Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo makes his season debut in the home opener at Petco Park against the Giants. Perdomo had a 2.41 ERA in five spring starts. He led all Padres starting pitchers last year in wins (nine) and innings pitched (146 2/3).
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu is back following left shoulder surgery and other injuries that had him make just one start over the last two years. He'll make his season debut in Colorado.