Today was a wonderful day to be a Dodger fan. Amid a record crowd of 57,099, and all the pomp and circumstance that befits a home opener -- including Manny Ramirez entering from the bullpen in left field to a rousing ovation -- the Dodgers provided three memories from today that I will not soon forget:
1) Vin Scully
The immortal Vin Scully threw out the cermonial first pitch, to a thunderous ovation. After tossing the ball to Joe Torre, Scully addressed the crowd and displayed his usual grace, saying to the fans, "in all these years, I have need you a lot more than you have needed me." With all due respect to Vin, I have to disagree.
2) Chad Billingsley
Billingsley was outstanding on the mound, living up to the honor of being named [home] opening day starter. Billingsley pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run while striking out 11. His game score of 74 was the seventh best start of his young career. In addition to retiring the last ten batters (the last five by strikeout), Billingsley did not walk a batter. Billingsley pitched only the 49th game in LA Dodger history with ten or more strikeouts and no walks.
3) Orlando Hudson
The O-Dog was the star of the day, as he did something that had happened only once in LA Dodger history. Hudson's triple into the right field corner in the sixth inning gave him the cycle, putting him in select company. Wes Parker was the only other LA Dodger to ever accomplish the feat, and he did it in a road game, at Shea Stadium in 1970. The O-Dog has been tatooing the ball of late, and it shows.
It's not often that a player can hit two home runs and go relatively unnoticed, but that's the case for Andre Ethier. The offense is really clicking right now, and the club is now averaging -- small sample size alert!!! -- 5.4 runs per game on the young season.
Fun facts from today's game: Every Dodger starter had at least one hit, and every Giant starter struck out at least once against Billingsley.
The six-run fourth inning by the Dodgers tied a Los Angeles Dodger record for most runs in an inning of a home opener, with six. The Dodgers also had six-run innings in their home debuts in 1969 and 2000.
Tuesday brings an off day, but the two clubs will be back at it Wednesday night, with Clayton Kershaw facing off with hard-luck Matt Cain.