The oddsmakers favor the Dodgers to win their first NL West crown since 2009, but Los Angeles knows its stiffest competition may come from San Francisco."We're pretty excited to be playing against the World Series champs, and hopefully we can come out and play the game we know how to play," slugger Matt Kemp said. "It is a rivalry, but that's more for the fans, not for us. We're just trying to beat every team out there."
Cain is excited to get the opening-day start, regardless of facing the Dodgers."It'd be just as memorable if it was against anybody," he said.
The Giants enter the season with two World Series titles in three years, and they return all their key players."I have to feel good about it because they did a good job last year, they did a great job," manager Bruce Bochy said. "To have the same group back, sure, it's made it easier for us. We knew who we had and things they could do."
San Francisco won the season series 10-8 last year and knocked the Dodgers out of NL wild-card contention in the next-to-the-last game of the regular season.
The Dodgers' lineup will be missing a key component to start the season. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 22, along with pitchers Chad Billingsley and Scott Elbert . Pitcher Ted Lilly is on the 15-day DL, retroactive to March 28.
Ramirez is expected to be out two months while recovering from right thumb surgery, with Justin Sellers getting the nod as his replacement.
Carl Crawford , recovering from elbow surgery, will start in left field for the Dodgers. He's one of the high-profile players who was acquired in the middle of last season, along with Adrian Gonzalez , Ramirez, starter Josh Beckett and closer Brandon League ."He's one of the most athletic guys in the game, and it's good to have him at the top of the lineup with his combination of speed and power," Kemp, who is coming off major shoulder surgery, said about Crawford. "It's never fun to face a guy that can take you deep and steal a base as the first batter of the game."
It's the Dodgers' first season opener under new ownership that includes Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson.
While there have been a few updates in Los Angeles - not the least of which is the $100 million invested into the major leagues' third-oldest ballpark - the Giants immediately concentrated on not breaking up their key contributors.
It started with bringing back lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt on a three-year contract, then Angel Pagan for four years. Marco Scutaro , the NL championship MVP, reached agreement on his three-year deal a day after Pagan got his multiyear deal in December.
There are so many key returners for the Giants, who pulled off remarkable rallies in the division series and NL championship series before a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to capture another improbable championship.
The Giants on Thursday committed to keeping Bochy around as well. He and general manager Brian Sabean had their contracts extended through the 2016 season."The glory days of the franchise are now," Giants President and CEO Larry Baer said. "I think it's important to acknowledge that and pay tribute to the people who have done it, from the general manager's office to the manager's office, to get us where we are now."
Buster Posey will look to build on his sensational comeback season. He surprised most everybody in his first year back after suffering season-ending leg and ankle injuries in a May 2011 collision at the plate."We really didn't know how much we could use him," Bochy said. "With the job that he did winning the Most Valuable Player I'd say he exceeded what we thought we might have in Buster in 2012 coming off that injury. The credit goes to him in how hard he worked to get himself back to that point."
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||16||.188||3||0||0||0||3||.188||.376||.188|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||14||.286||4||0||3||3||2||.412||.841||.429|
|San Francisco Giants|
|March 22, 2013||Brett Pill||15-Day DL||Recovery from minor knee surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Eric Surkamp||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Tony Abreu||15-Day DL||Left knee strain|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|March 28, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Left shoulder labrum surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Chad Billingsley||15-Day DL||Right index finger contusion|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Elbert||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||15-Day DL||Torn ligament, right thumb|
|March 21, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Torn ligament, right thumb|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Then another Dodgers left-hander with a great curveball dominated.
Clayton Kershaw launched his first career home run to break a scoreless tie in the eighth inning before finishing off a four-hitter Monday that led Los Angeles over the defending champion San Francisco Giants 4-0 on opening day.
"He gave us seven chances to take care of it, and finally he said, `That's enough. I'm going to take care of it,"' catcher A.J. Ellis said.
Kershaw became the first pitcher to throw a shutout and hit a home run in an opener since Bob Lemon for Cleveland in 1953, according to STATS.
"What an awesome feeling," said Kershaw, who charged around the bases accompanied by a prolonged roar from the sellout crowd of 53,000. "I probably wasn't feeling my feet hitting the ground."
Kershaw struck out seven, walked none and retired World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval on a grounder to end it. His curveball was particularly effective in his sixth career shutout - three against the Giants.
"I was able to throw it for strikes, which is key," he said. "That made it easier for them to chase. They were swinging early in counts."
The former Cy Young winner began the day as a career .146 batter with only one extra-base hit in 261 at-bats. He struck out in his first two at-bats. But he sent the first pitch from George Kontos (0-1) over the center-field wall, triggering a standing ovation on a cool and sunny day.
After high-fiving his teammates, Kershaw tipped his cap from the dugout, a bit uncertain on the protocol since he'd never done it before.
"As soon as I sat down, I had to think about getting three outs," he said.
Ellis described the dugout scene as "pandemonium."
"To see that joy on his face when he was rounding third, it was great to see because usually he's so focused," the catcher said. "Everyone is going to say they were at the Kershaw home run game, even though only 53,000 were here."
Kershaw became the first pitcher in the majors to homer on opening day since Joe Magrane of St. Louis in 1988, and the first Dodgers pitcher to do it since Don Drysdale in 1965.
"I never knew what that felt like," said Kershaw, who homered in spring training four years ago and before that in high school.
Giants catcher Buster Posey had a close-up view of Kershaw's home-run swing.
"The ball just ran back to the middle a little bit and he was all in," Posey said.
Koufax, wearing his vintage No. 32 jersey, was a surprise guest for the ceremonial first ball. In 1964, he pitched the first opening-day shutout at Dodger Stadium, where he returned Monday for the first time since 2009.
"It was almost like a passing of the torch day," Ellis said. "The first pitch by Koufax and the last by Kersh."
Kershaw, who turned 25 last month, was leery about having his mentioned with that of Koufax, whom he's gotten to know during spring training.
"He was the best left-handed pitcher ever," Kershaw said. "I'm honored with the comparisons, but I don't put any merit into it because I got a long way to go."
Kershaw tossed 94 pitches in his third consecutive opening day start. He has led the majors in ERA each of the last two seasons, and there is speculation he will soon be rewarded with a long-term contract worth about $200 million.
After the game, Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter hugged Kershaw, but the pitcher said getting in a quick negotiation "didn't cross my mind."
"Opening day was everything I could hope for," Kershaw said. "Hopefully we got 161 more of those coming up."
Kershaw hasn't allowed a run in three opening day starts with a combined 19 strikeouts in 19 innings against the Giants this year, the Padres last year and the Giants in 2011.
Matt Cain made his first career opening day start for the Giants. He allowed four hits in six scoreless innings, struck out eight and walked one. The right-hander threw 93 pitches, including 32 in the first inning alone when he hit Mark Ellis .
"That was a tough one, but Kershaw never gave us a chance to do much at all," Cain said, "and that's typical of him and what you expect from him."
While Kershaw (1-0) was resting after his home run, the Dodgers broke it open with a four-run eighth.
Carl Crawford followed with a double in his Dodgers debut and later scored on a wild pitch by Santiago Casilla for a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers got their last two runs on RBI groundouts by Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis.
Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was the mound before the game when manager Don Mattingly came out and signaled for a reliever. In came Koufax to throw the first ball to former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser .
A few minutes later, the crowd looked toward Vin Scully's booth, where he began his 64th season, and the revered broadcaster pronounced: "It's time for Dodger baseball."
NOTES: Ethier made his franchise record sixth consecutive opening day start in right field for the Dodgers. ... Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher to start the season opener three years in a row since Derek Lowe (2005-07). ... Only four players on the Giants' 25-man roster weren't on the team last season. ... The Dodgers faced the defending World Series champions on opening day for just the third time in franchise history. In 2011, they played the Giants, and in 1922, when the club was known as the Brooklyn Robins, they faced the New York Giants.