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Dodgers on opening day will play their earliest US game ever

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
Hyun-jin Ryu won’t start this March for the Dodgers but in his career has yet to allow a run in two starts and 12 innings this month.
Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

With a longer regular season the 2018 campaign opens on a Thursday this year and opening day at Dodger Stadium will be the earliest on the calendar that the Dodgers have played domestically.

The March 29 start to the season is a byproduct of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, which called for more rest days dispersed throughout the regular season. That means a 187-day “championship season” instead of the old 183 days on the baseball calendar.

That gives us a Thursday start day rather than a Monday, or Sunday start to the season.

Dodgers March history

Date Opponent Result
Date Opponent Result
Mar 31, 1998 at Cardinals L, 6-0
Mar 31, 2003 at D-backs W, 8-0
Mar 31, 2008 vs. Giants W, 5-0
Mar 31, 2011 vs. Giants W, 2-1
Mar 22, 2014 at D-backs* W, 3-1
Mar 23, 2014 at D-backs* W, 7-5
Mar 30, 2014 at Padres L, 3-1
*in Sydney, Australia Source: Baseball-Reference

When the Dodgers start against the Giants on Thursday it will mark the earliest they have ever played a game in the United States. The only time they played earlier was on 2014 when the first two games of the regular season were played in Sydney, Australia against the Diamondbacks, about a week before everybody else.

Those games were played on March 22 and 23, both Dodgers wins, then the club returned home and played the ESPN ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ opener in San Diego against the Padres on March 30, meaning the Dodgers played three regular season games before 27 other teams got their year started.

The Dodgers are 5-2 in regular season games played in March, with losses in St. Louis in 1998 and in that San Diego game in 2014. Aside from the loss at Petco Park and the games in Australia, every other Dodgers game played this month was on March 31.

This year, their first three games against the Giants are in March.

In those seven previous March games the Dodgers hit three home runs — Brian Jordan, Jeff Kent and Scott Van Slyke doing the honors.

The club’s starting pitching has been excellent in March. After Ramon Martinez allowed four runs in 4⅔ innings in that 1998 loss, Dodgers starters have allowed one run in 41⅓ innings, with 38 strikeouts and nine walks. The lone run allowed was by Clayton Kershaw, in 6⅔ innings in Australia on March 22, 2014.

Dodgers starters’ ERA in March is 0.98.

Dodgers starting pitchers in March games

Pitcher Date Opp IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP
Pitcher Date Opp IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP
Ramon Martinez Mar 31, 1998 at Cardinals 4⅔ 7 4 4 2 4 7.71 1.929
Hideo Nomo Mar 31, 2003 at D-backs 9 4 0 0 1 7 0.00 0.556
Brad Penny Mar 31, 2008 vs. Giants 6⅔ 4 0 0 2 3 0.00 0.900
Clayton Kershaw Mar 31, 2011 vs. Giants 7 4 0 0 1 9 0.00 0.714
Clayton Kershaw Mar 22, 2014 at D-backs* 6⅔ 5 1 1 1 7 1.35 0.900
Hyun-jin Ryu Mar 23, 2014 at D-backs* 5 2 0 0 1 5 0.00 0.600
Hyun-jin Ryu Mar 30, 2014 at Padres 7 3 0 0 3 7 0.00 0.857
Totals 46 29 5 5 11 42 0.98 0.870
*in Sydney, Australia