Blach outduels Kershaw, Panik powers Giants over Dodgers in Game 1
Giants down Dodgers on Opening Day
LOS ANGELES — A left-hander was the story of the day at Dodger Stadium, as expected.
The surprise was that it wasn’t Clayton Kershaw.
Ty Blach, the emergency choice to take the ball on Opening Day, threw five shutout innings opposite Kershaw and the revamped bullpen did the rest in a 1-0 win. The biggest out came in the seventh, when Cory Gearrin caught Chris Taylor looking at strike three with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second.
Tony Watson blew the doors off the Dodgers in his Giants debut, striking out three in the eighth. Hunter Strickland, the new closer, shut it down in the ninth.
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Blach pulls a Bumgarner
Blach, pitching in place of Madison Bumgarner, gave the Giants more than they could have asked for. He struck out the first two batters he faced and kept the ball on the ground throughout. In all, Blach allowed just three hits — two by Kershaw — walked three and struck out three. He has a 1.96 ERA against the Dodgers in eight career appearances.
All smiles for Brandon Belt
Brandon Belt entered the day 3-for-51 against Kershaw with 27 strikeouts. If this wouldn’t have been Opening Day, he would have been on the bench. But in the dugout before the game, Belt smiled and said he had a good feeling. He blooped a single to right in his first at-bat but then struck out and grounded out. Still, 1-for-3 must have felt like cause for celebration given their past matchups.
Even Panik was surprised
Joe Panik got the Giants on the board in the fifth by pulling a solo shot just inside the pole in right. Panik seemed as surprised as anyone that it stayed fair, but it stood as his first career extra-base hit against Kershaw. In fact, coming into that at-bat, the three main lefties — Panik, Belt and Brandon Crawford — had just one extra-base hit (a Belt double) in 119 at-bats against Kershaw.
Get used to Osich 2.0
Josh Osich 2.0 took over for Blach in the sixth and worked past some self-inflicted pain. After striking out Yasiel Puig for the second out, Osich walked Enrique Hernandez and threw a wild pitch to put the tying run in scoring position. But he threw a cutter past Cody Bellinger to end the threat. With all the bullpen changes, Osich looks poised to be a regular late in games.
It can only get better for new guys
The big bats added in the offseason didn’t fare well. Andrew McCutchen was 1-for-4 and hit into a double play with two on and no outs in the first. Evan Longoria was hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times.