Home runs were the story of the day on Tuesday afternoon at Camelback Ranch, as the Dodgers fell in their spring training home opener to the Giants 8-4. Melky Cabrera was a rude greeter to a pair of Dodger pitchers making their Cactus League debuts, while Andre Ethier continued his hot hitting for Los Angeles.
Ted Lilly was homer prone last season, allowing 28 long balls on the season. But he ended his campaign by not allowing a home run to any of the final 170 batters he faced. Cabrera hit leadoff for the Giants on Tuesday and as the first batter Lilly faced this spring Cabrera hit one over the bullpen in left field to open the game. Three batters later, Brett Pill hit another home run, this one with a man on to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
Lilly said he had no command of his fastball, and paid the price, allowing two more runs in the second inning. However, there were a pair of questionable defensive plays, one by third baseman Juan Uribe and one by first baseman Jerry Sands, that contributed to the second inning. "In the second inning, if we catch the ball a little better I think [Lilly] gets out of that," said manager Don Mattingly, who has otherwise been impressed with Lilly so far this spring.
"Last year Teddy early was all over the place. He couldn't get the ball on the plate and down. This year he just looks different," said Mattingly. "I really feel like he's throwing the ball better right now than he was last year."
Cabrera also greeted Ramon Troncoso with a first-batter home run in the sixth inning.
Mattingly shifted his lineup slightly with the southpaw Zito on the mound, moving Juan Rivera up from fifth to cleanup, and dropping the left-handed Ethier to fifth in the order. However, Zito struck out Matt Kemp and Rivera on six pitches in the first inning, then allowed a home run to lead off the second inning to Ethier, his first home run of the spring.
"It's always amazing to me when guys swing the bat good right away," Mattingly said of Ethier, who has a home run and a double in four at-bats in the early going. "He's always seemed like that. Some springs are better than others, but he always looks like he's
right on it right away."
That Ethier hit the home run off a left-hander was encouraging, though he will have to do so on a consistent basis for Mattingly to not drop him in the order. Ethier hit just .220/.258/.305 last season against southpaws and in his career has hit .242/.302/.359 against them.
That said, Mattingly still thinks Ethier can have success against lefties. "To me he really should be more competitive than he was against lefties last year, just by the swing itself," Mattingly said.
Ronald Belisario pitched on the mound in a competitive game against a major league team for the first time since October 1, 2010, pitching a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed two hits, though one was of the infield variety, and got three groundouts in his spring debut. The final groundout was of the 1-5-3 variety as Hector Sanchez hit a ball off Belisario which bounced to Juan Uribe, who threw to first base for the out..
- Josh Lindblom, vying for the final spot in the bullpen, pitched a scoreless fifth inning while striking out one.
Michael Antonini and Josh Wall, both new members of the 40-man roster, each pitched a scoreless inning, allowing two hits while striking out one.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. had the theme song to The Jeffersons as his walk-up music.
- Lance Zawadzki in the ninth inning lost his bat twice in three pitches, with the bat nearly ending up in the same place both times. The first time it happened, the bat struck a fan in the shoulder just above the Giants' dugout, and two pitches later the bat went flying in the general vicinity again though it didn't appear to do any damage this time.
- Paid attendance on Tuesday was 7,038, which was 21.6% more than Monday's game at Camelback Ranch, which was the home opener for the White Sox.
The Dodgers head to Phoenix Municipal Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to face old friend Manny Ramirez the Oakland Athletics. Mattingly called it a home game for him since that is where he managed the Phoenix Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League in 2010.
Tyson Ross starts for Oakland.
HR: Andre Ethier (1); Melky Cabrera 2 (2), Brett Pill (1)
WP: Barry Zito (1-0): 2+ IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
LP: Ted Lilly (0-1): 2 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout