D-backs at Dodgers, April 13



Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesIt’s a beautiful day in Los Angeles as the D-backs take on the Dodgers in their home opener.

Clayton Kershaw moved through the D-backs’ lineup quite well the first time through, as Conor Jackson accounted for both of the only two baserunners through the first 12 batters with a single and a walk.

Ian Kennedy got out of a spot of trouble in the second inning, loading the bases with one out but surrendering only a sacrifice fly to Russell Martin.

— Adam LaRoche drove a ball hard to the left-center field gap for a one-out double to get the D-backs going in the fourth inning.

— It will be interesting to see how Kershaw goes after Chris Young here. He went after him perfectly in the first at bat, keeping all of his six pitches high in the zone (see image below). But we’ve seen so far this week that Young has blasted a few pitchers’ mistakes already.

Kershaw vs. Young

Kershaw vs CY.JPG

— Different approach for Kershaw in the second at bat, and a different result, as Young drives a fastball into center field for an RBI single to drive in Adam LaRoche. This time, it was a slider and a pair of curveballs to Young before he drove the only fastball he saw for a hit.

— In my estimation, Daron Sutton and Mark Grace correctly summed up the good luck on that hit. Young’s bat breaking took enough velocity off the ball that LaRoche was able to score, whereas a hard-hit line drive to center might have resulted in a play at the plate or LaRoche being held at third.

— Kennedy was managing a nine-pitch at bat with Manny Ramirez quite well until the last pitch, a slider that Ramirez drove for a homer. Look at where the first eight pitches are — all on the outside edges of the zone, and half of them away. Unfortunately, he missed with the slider, leaving it belt-high over the plate and Ramirez used one of the more valuable skills in his toolbox, which is to foul off pitches until he gets something to hit. Too bad for Kennedy, who really handled that at bat well up to that slider.

Kennedy vs. Ramirez

Kennedy vs ramirez.JPG 

— Unfortunately, that set a rough tone for the rest of this inning, too. James Loney pulled a double down the line and Casey Blake got under a fastball on the inside part of the plate for a homer to left-center. It’s 4-1, bad guys.

— Excellent defensive play by Chris Snyder. With Blake DeWitt on first having just walked, Kennedy bounced a pitch in the dirt, which was quickly corralled by Snyder, who gunned DeWitt out at second for the first out of the inning.

— Some good luck going the D-backs way here for sure. Kennedy went to the plate to bunt Snyder — who had walked — to second base. But Kershaw missed the strike zone on four pitches (the last three by quite a bit), walking Kennedy to put two on with nobody out. Interesting… Kennedy is getting wild as the most patient D-backs hitter — Jackson — comes to the plate.

— Jackson ground into a fielder’s choice, as Rafael Furcal makes a diving play to nail Kennedy at second. Game of inches, here. That ball is a foot further to Furcal’s right, and the D-backs would have another baserunner.

— Again, you take the luck you get. Drew hangs in there against, as the broadcasters got right again, a pitch that could have been called strike three, and gets hit with the next pitch to load them up for Justin Upton here.

— Looks like Kershaw got away with one there. He put a curveball right over the heart of the plate, a pitch Upton will usually take back up the middle, but he pulls it for a groundball fielder’s choice to third. Unfortunately, with a flyout from LaRoche, Kershaw gets out of a huge jam there.

— As Jordan Norberto comes to the mound to face James Loney with two runners on, the Dodger Stadium speakers are playing the song that would be my entrance music if I were a closer — The Joker and the Thief, by Wolfmother. I wonder if that’s Loney’s music, or just incidental? Hopefully it pumps up Norberto here.

— (Related note… see a list of all of the D-backs’ pitchers’ music, and thoughts from Kennedy on why he picked his particular song in the next issue of D-backs Insider magazine)

— Kelly Johnson makes a play that you will definitely see in Web Gems on Baseball Tonight this evening. Reaching over his left shoulder to get a ball that would ahve dropped between he and Upton for a base hit to load the bases if not for that fantastic play.

— After the Dodgers added another two runs in the bottom of the fifth, the D-backs get started the right way here in the top of the sixth, with a pair of walks for Mark Reynolds and Young. Johnson is started 2-0 here also…

— Johnson struck out, but Snyder responded with an RBI single to make this a 6-2 game as the Dodgers turn to reliever Jeff Weaver.

— Bottom of the seventh: Against reliever Ramon Ortiz, LaRoche draws a walk, Reynolds homers to left-center, Young doubles and Johnson singles him home. This is a ballgame again, folks, as the D-backs have cut the Dodgers’ lead to 9-5.

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