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SAN DIEGO, CA – Once you heard the golden voice of baseball make his announcement “it’s time for Dodger baseball” you knew the 2012 Season was official. The Dodgers started the season this year on the road with the their neighbors to the south, the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw never though he’d wake with a bad case of the stomach flu for Thursday debut. After pleading and convincing manager Don Mattingly not to scratch him for the start, Kershaw went out and battled like a champ, throwing three shut out inning before calling it a day due to effects of the stomach flu. Mattingly pulls him just before the fourth inning to replace him with pitcher Josh Lindblom, who ironically wasn’t sure he would make it to the Opening Day roster.
The fourth inning proved to be the breakaway opportunity the Dodgers needed as Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez threw several walks allowing the Dodgers to score two much needed runs. The Padres also picked up three errors in the inning. The scoring didn’t stop in the fifth inning as the Dodgers got into position to score again thanks to a Dee Gordon triple error as the ball bounced off the glove of Padres Cameron Maybin. Matt Kemp hit a grounder that allowed Gordon to score making it 3-0.
The Padres finally got on the board as they scored a run thanks to Jesus Guzman RBI double, ending the scoreless drought in the sixth inning.
The eight inning, it was all Matt Kemp as he hit a home run that flew to right of pitcher Brad Brach, to give the Dodgers a commanding 5-1 lead. The Padres weren’t done as Maybin blasted about a 445 foot home run off Kensley Jensen to bring the Padres back within two, down just 5-3.
Javy Guerra came in the ninth inning to secure the save as the Dodgers take the first game of the series 5-3. Lindblom who pitched two perfect innings in Kershaw’s absence, get the win. Kemp finished the day with 3 RBI’s and 1 home run. After the home run, a happy Kemp talked about what happened when he was congratulated by new owner Magic Johnson “right when I came back from hitting the home run, he stuck his head in the dugout and said, ‘Nice job, kid”.
Padres manager Bud Black talked about the absence of Clayton Kershaw “It’s nice to get him out of the game, thinking the Cy Young Award winner is out and you have six innings to go score runs”.
Friday the Padres have another opportunity to turn things around as they send Cory Luebke to the mound against Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley at 7:05PM.
*In attendance was former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt sitting next to one of the new Dodger owners Magic Johnson. An enthusiastic Johnson was seen several times cheering on his new ball club throughout the game.