Clayton Kershaw didn’t just dominate the Giants on the mound in today’s season opener. He also made some unexpected noise with his bat.
In a masterful performance, Kershaw tossed his sixth career shutout in a 4-0 win over the defending World Series champions. The 25-year-old southpaw held the Giants to just four measly singles while fanning seven and walking just one. He needed just 94 pitches to get the job done.
The Dodgers couldn’t get anything going against Matt Cain, so their ace ultimately had to take matters into his own hands. The game remained scoreless until Kershaw led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo home run to straight-away center field off George Kontos. Pretty good timing for the first home run of his major league career. In fact, it was also just his second extra-base hit in the big leagues. It was truly a surreal moment at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers tacked on three more runs in the frame before Kershaw finished off the Giants in the top of the ninth.
Kershaw is the first pitcher to homer on Opening Day since Joe Magrane in 1988 and the first Dodger to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965. He’s also the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run on Opening Day since Bob Lemon did it for the Indians back in 1953. Today’s performance was pretty much Kershaw’s way of asking, “Can I have my $200 million now, please?”
Here’s the video of Kershaw’s home run:
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.