While we wait to see who will start for the Dodgers . . .


UPDATE: Kershaw gets the nod.

I’ve been getting a lot of pushback on my post from this morning about starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest today. I get the pushback.

In terms of probabilities and game theory and stuff, it’s probably the wrong call, actually. The Dodgers don’t have to just win one game, they have to win two. And the question isn’t “is Kershaw better than Urias today?” It’s “is Kershaw today and Urias in Game 5 better than the reverse?” Or, if Urias has to relieve Kershaw today, “Is Kershaw/Urias today and bullpen salad and/or tired Rich Hill or something in Game 5 better?” The answer to that may very well be “don’t pitch Kershaw today, save him for a Game 5.”

But it’s also the case that Dave Roberts doesn’t have the luxury of making those calculations in a vacuum. Not to go full Luddite here, but the fact is that Roberts has to contend with 25 players in his clubhouse, all of whom likely have strong feelings about this, and who likely favor the veteran, all-world, team-leader over the rookie, because that’s how players operate. Yes, it’s Roberts’ job to lead them and show them that his course is correct if it differs from theirs, but that’s a hard battle to win in short time, even if Roberts is adamant about playing the percentages over his gut. Assuming his gut is to go with Kershaw, which I feel like it would be.

What’s more, Roberts has to deal with his bosses in the front office and the folks in the press and Dodgers fans and all of that. I’m not suggesting that Roberts should be a weather vane and do what he thinks is most popular. I’m just saying it’s unrealistic to think that he’s not at least aware of those pressures and voices and that his decision making may not be impacted by it somewhat.

Most important in all of that is what the front office, which is very tactically hands-on in Los Angeles, thinks. What do they think about starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest in the playoffs? If it’s that Game 4 * Game 5 math mentioned above, sure, it’s easy. But might they think differently? Here’s what they thought when this exact scenario came up last year:

The Dodgers are aware of the statistics. General Manager Farhan Zaidi acknowledged the “evidence,” as he put it Monday.

“But every guy is different,” he said. “And every guy’s standard is different. I mean, really, there isn’t much nuance to it. We did look at everything about his performance when he’s done it before and his velocity, his spin rates were all pretty much the same as usual.”

So it’s not quite as clear. Different standards for Kershaw and Kershaw’s standard being a bit more lenient for short rest starts than others. But it’s the latter bit that is more significant, I think: Kershaw’s recent performance. I think how he looked mechanically to Zaidi and his staff in Game 1 of this series probably matters a lot more than the game theory stuff mentioned above. As does the state of is back, which is obviously different this year than last. There is likely a LOT more going into this decision than just “Game 4 * Game 5” analysis.

As I said this morning, if I’m Dave Roberts I go with Kershaw. And yes, I’ll grant that a lot of that is based on my gut and what I imagine I’d be thinking if I were Dave Roberts. I’ll grant that it’s not some no-brainer decision, however, and that basic strategy suggests not pitching him. That basic strategy though, at least as commenters and critics of my post this morning have stated it, does not take all of the real world and behind the scenes stuff into account, and I think that’s just as naive as me blithely going with my gut.

Ultimately it’s baseball, of course, and crazy crap happens. Kershaw could start and get shelled or go eight innings allowing one hit. Urias could do either or something in between. Or Martians could invade during the fourth inning. If that happens, it’ll just make next year’s short rest decision in a Division Series all the more difficult for us to analyze. We’d be all, “well, if the Martians come back in Game 2 instead of Game 3 . . .”

Rutschman has five hits in opener, Orioles outlast Red Sox 10-9

Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

BOSTON – The last time Adley Rutschman recalls feeling this level of emotion on a baseball field was playing in front of intimate, 5,000-seat crowds in college at Oregon State.

He trumped that experience at Fenway Park on Thursday in his first career opening day start.

“This blows that out of the water,” Rutschman said.

Rutschman became the first catcher in major league history with five hits in an opener, and the Baltimore Orioles survived a wild ninth inning to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-9.

“To have that close game in the ninth inning and the crowd get so loud. You kind of sit there and say, ‘This is pretty cool,’” said Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Rutschman – who debuted for the Orioles last May and quickly became indispensable to the young, resurgent club – homered in his first at-bat and finished 5-for-5 with a career-best four RBIs and a walk on a chilly day at Fenway Park, with a temperature of 38 degrees at first pitch.

Ramon Urias hit a two-run homer for Baltimore, which finished with 15 hits, nine walks and five stolen bases.

Kyle Gibson (1-0) allowed four runs and six hits over five-plus innings to earn his first opening-day victory since his 2021 All-Star season with Texas. Gibson gave up an RBI groundout in the first inning before retiring nine straight Red Sox hitters.

The Orioles nearly gave the game away in the ninth.

With Baltimore leading 10-7, closer Félix Bautista walked pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia. Alex Verdugo followed with a single and advanced to second on an error by center fielder Cedric Mullins.

Rafael Devers struck out. Justin Turner then reached on an infield single to third when Urias’ throw was wide, scoring Tapia. Masataka Yoshida grounded to shortstop Jorge Mateo, who stepped on second for the force but threw wildly to first, allowing Verdugo to score.

Bautista struck out Adam Duvall on three pitches to end it and earn the save.

The Orioles scored four runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. Baltimore led 10-4 before Bryan Baker allowed three runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox some hope.

The eighth could have been even better for the Red Sox had Devers, who led off the inning, not become the first player in major league history to strike out on a pitch clock violation. Devers was looking down and kicking debris off his cleats when umpire Lance Barksdale signaled a violation that resulted in strike three.

“There’s no excuse,” said Alex Cora, who dropped to 0-5 in opening-day games as Boston’s manager. “They know the rules.”

Boston offseason addition and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (0-1) struggled in his Fenway debut, surrendering five runs on six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

“Less than ideal,” Kluber said. “Didn’t turn out the way I would have hoped for.”


Red Sox: Christian Arroyo stayed in the game after taking an inadvertent cleat to the side of his head in the second inning. Arroyo was applying a tag to Rutschman at second base as he attempted to stretch out a single. Rutschman’s leg flipped over as he slid awkwardly. … LHP James Paxton was placed on the 15-day inured list (retroactive to March 27) with a strained right hamstring.


Rutschman, one of six Baltimore players making his first opening-day appearance, became the youngest Oriole to homer in his first opening-day at-bat since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1984.


The Orioles took advantage of MLB’s bigger bases – going from 15- to 18-inch squares – that are being used for the first time this season. Baltimore hadn’t stolen five bases in a game since last June 24 against the White Sox. Mullins and Jorge Mateo swiped two bags apiece, and Adam Frazier got a huge jump on his steal against reliever Ryan Brasier. There was nothing Boston catcher Reese McGuire could do to stop them and on the majority of Baltimore’s steals, he didn’t bother to throw.


Right-hander Kaleb Ort and Tapia earned Boston’s final two roster spots to open the season. Tapia got the nod over Jarren Duran, who was sent down to Triple-A Worcester. Ort pitched a scoreless sixth with one strikeout Thursday.


Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer will make is sixth career start against Boston when the three-game series resumes on Saturday. In 11 road starts last season, he went 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale, who has pitched in only 11 games over the past three years due to injuries, is set to begin his seventh season in Boston.