LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers try to get off the mat after dropping their series opener, hosting the Giants on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. The club is not only in search of its first win of the season, but also its first run.
The first five hitters in the Dodgers batting order went 0-for-17 with three walks and eight strikeouts on Thursday, and pitcher Clayton Kershaw had to of the club’s six hits, all singles.
“We just couldn’t put at-bats together and create stress on their pitchers,” manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers haven’t lost two straight games to open a season since 2010, which was also the last time they lost one straight to begin the year. They haven’t been shutout in their first two games since 1968, the Year of the Pitcher.
Fifty years ago the Dodgers had a rough start offensively, getting shutout in three of their first four games with a 1-0 win mixed in. But what stands out to me is how insane their opening schedule was:
Wednesday, April 10: vs. Phillies (L, 2-0)
Thursday, April 11: vs. Mets (L, 0-4)
Friday, April 12: off
Saturday, April 13: vs. Mets (W, 1-0)
Sunday, April 14: vs. Pirates (L, 3-0)
Monday, April 15: vs. Pirates (W, 3-2)
Tuesday, April 16: vs. Phillies (W, 5-3)
Wednesday, April 17: at Phillies (L, 3-2)
I did a double take when seeing this schedule on Baseball-Reference, thinking there were rainouts or something weird to account for the off days and one-game quickies, but a glance at the printed pocket schedule from 1968 suggests this was mostly by design.
The Phillies were originally scheduled to open with a two-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning on April 9, but after Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4 President Johnson declared a national day of mourning on April 8. King’s funeral was on April 9, and several major league teams decided not to play. The Dodgers initially relented but ultimately agreed to postpone the game, which was made up a week later.
But even without the tragedy that schedule was super odd, with three Eastern teams traveling all the way out west just to play a two-game series, then once the Dodgers hit the road they had a very weird one-game series against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Coupled with the makeup game that made for a bizarre two-day home-and-home series between the two teams a mere 2,700 miles apart.
The Dodgers will try to avoid matching that 1968 team by scoring at least a run against Johnny Cueto, who since joining the Giants has a 3.99 ERA in nine starts against them with 60 strikeouts and 15 walks in 56⅓ innings. That includes a 1.75 ERA at Dodger Stadium in four outings, with three wins.
Alex Wood starts for the Dodgers. Last year a lot of his numbers were similar at home and on the road:
Alex Wood 2017 splits
Yet Wood’s ERA at Dodger Stadium in 2017 was 3.20, compared to 2.24 on the road. Go figure.
Dodgers vs. Giants
Location: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, KTLA