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Opening day focus on Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers host the Padres on Monday afternoon, looking to win a fifth straight opening day for the first time in franchise history. The one constant in these five years is the largest reason for the success — Clayton Kershaw starting on the mound for Los Angeles.

Kershaw is just the second Dodgers pitcher to start five straight opening days, joining Don Sutton, who started seven straight (1972-1978).

Kershaw himself has been nearly untouchable on the season's first day, allowing one run total on 15 hits in 25⅔ innings, with 26 strikeouts and three walks. He is 3-0 in his four opening day starts, with the only no-decision coming in 2012, when Kershaw had the stomach flu and was throwing up between innings. Even that day he gutted through three scoreless innings.

In his career against San Diego, Kershaw is 12-6 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 career starts against the Padres, with 148 strikeouts and 57 walks in 156 innings. He has beaten the Padres in each of his last four starts, allowing exactly three hits in each game, with 39 strikeouts, seven walks, and five runs allowed (three earned runs) in 32 innings.

Then again, these aren't your father's Padres, nor are they even your older brother's Padres.

All eyes will be on Matt Kemp, playing his first game since getting traded by the Dodgers in December. But he's not alone among new Padres.

Among those brought to San Diego by first-year general manager A.J. Preller's amazing offseason are Justin Upton, Wil Myers, catcher Derek Norris, closer Craig Kimbrel, and Kershaw's mound opponent on Monday, James Shields.

Kemp, as expected, had a productive spring training at the plate for San Diego, hitting .364/.386/.727 with four home runs, six doubles, a triple and a team-leading 14 RBI.

It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers handle Kemp's return after nine highly-productive years with the organization. With Kemp likely batting in the top of the first inning, a video tribute at that time, just before the game, seems out of place, though perhaps something between innings later in the game would be more appropriate.

Kemp played in six opening days for the Dodgers, and was 7-for-21 (.333/.462/.667) with two home runs, a double, seven RBI, seven runs and five walks.

The Dodgers are 5-3 on opening day against the Padres, including two straight wins and four wins in their last five opening days against San Diego, dating back to 1986. The two teams last met at Dodger Stadium on opening day in 2004, a win for the Padres. The Dodgers are 3-2 in home opening days against San Diego.

Game info

Time: 1:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA