I cannot remember the last time I was this happy after a Chad Billingsley start. It's been quite awhile since he avoided what I like to call the Billingsley blunder. Seems there is always 1 inning where he struggles mightily and can't get back on the proverbial horse. Not tonight. He was everything Dodger fans used to expect from him. 108 pitches, 11 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 3 hits over 8 and 1/3 innings. That's better than I ever expect from Bills these days. I'm usually thrilled to get 6-7 innings of 2-3 run baseball. He had a rough Spring Training, so this was definitely a good sign.
What Else I Liked-Andre Ethier. The guy just tears the cover off the ball in April, in fact his average is .322 for his career in April games. So it's good to see him riding that train yet again, lets just hope he stays on it. Matt Kemp had another good night as well. 2 for 4 with 2 runs, an RBI, and a stolen base. That means he's only 49 home runs and 49 stolen bases away from the 50/50 season he projected. Do I think he'll attain this goal, probably not. But remember, Beast Mode never sleeps, which makes me cautiously hopeful, so we'll just have to wait and see. But he did look more prepared to run tonight compared to yesterday on his stolen base attempt where I thought he looked a bit too relaxed. I was also happy to see Don Mattingly go to the bullpen in the bottom of the 9th. Bills tossed a great game, there was no reason to leave him out there and run the risk of hurting that confidence. Sure it would've been nice to see a complete game out of him, and I don't doubt that he could have wrapped things up. But 108 pitches is a ton in a season debut, so I thought it was good that he went to Jamey Wright.
What I Didn't Like-Juan Uribe. Sadly I have a feeling this is going to be a common theme this year. Uribe went 0-4 tonight, following last night's 0-3 performance. His approach at the plate is just awful. Swinging for the fence has it's time and place, for Uribe that seems to be every time he steps in the batter's box. He's an average defensive option at 3rd base, but his bat is going to be murder on this team. Also, I'm a bit concerned with Dee Gordon's approach. Yeah he had an error assisted triple last night, and a single tonight, but it doesn't look like he's seeing the ball very well right now. He did get hosed on that stolen base attempt though. Very close play, and a hell of a throw, but the replay clearly showed he was safe. The umpire crew seemed a bit off tonight. There were some questionable strike calls at the plate, notably against Gordon and Ethier, but it what it is. Although I wasn't all that happy that Andre was so pissed about his. Let it go man, it's early in the season, don't want to get tossed in Game 2.
Tomorrow we'll see Chris Capuano make his Dodgers debut, and if he continues what he did in Spring Training, we could be in for a lot of strikeouts. The Padres seem pretty eager to swing, and with Capuano's team leading 22 K's in the Spring, it could be a lot of fun.
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