The Dodgers began their World Series title defense with a strange error filled opening day loss to the Rockies at Coors Field on Thursday afternoon. The MLB schedule maker gave the Dodgers a cruel joke with a four-game opening series at Coors Field. That park is a nightmare and I wonder who thought it was a good idea to ever put a team in Denver in the first place. Regardless, the Dodgers played a sloppy game full of errors, base-running mistakes and mental blunders. The Rockies are a terrible club and losing to them is akin to losing to a minor league team. Yet the defending World Series champions took an 8-5 loss to open the 2021 campaign. It’s only one game but it’s not a good look.
We can’t just be good on paper.”
Mookie is right, the Dodgers can’t just be good on paper. The paper the club used on opening day was crumpled up and thrown into the trash.Clayton Kershaw made his ninth career opening day start for the boys in blue. Normally he’s rails on opening day but today he struggled. He allowed six runs, five of them earned on ten hits over 5.1 innings pitched. He struck out two, walked one and made 77 pitches. Fun fact, Kershaw came into the game hitting .350 in opening day games. Kershaw recorded two more hits at the plate on Thursday. I’m more worried about his pitching than his hitting after an outing like this and a concerning spring training showing.
The Dodger hitters struggled to hit Rockie’s opening day starter German Marquez. The Dodgers mustered just six hits and one run across six innings against Marquez. The Dodgers were able to draw six walks as Marquez had control problems all afternoon. Marquez tossed just four innings and did not qualify for the win.
The Dodgers scored five runs on 15 hits and left 14 men on base. They were 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position and were not in sync throughout the game. There were several base-running blunders and mistakes on defense that were the Dodger’s undoing. The one play that was the most bizarre took place in the top of the third. Justin Turner singled, and Cody Bellinger smashed a long drive to deep left field. Colorado left fielder Raimel Tapia leaped to make the grab and gloved the ball, but it popped out of his glove as he hit the wall and the ball landed over the fence. It should have been a two-run home run for Bellinger, but Turner thinking the ball had been caught, raced back to first base passing a confused Bellinger. While the umpires were discussing the play, Turner then scored. Unfortunately, when you are a baserunner you can’t pass another runner and Bellinger was ruled out. The run Turner scored counted and Bellinger was credited with a single. Instead of two, the Dodgers were only given credit for one run. I’ve seen some weird plays in my days, but this one was beyond odd.
The sloppy play continued for the Dodgers as Corey Seager and Turner both committed costly fielding errors. The Rockies had two bunt singles, one a suicide squeeze in the bottom of the third, and catcher Austin Barnes was injured on a play at the plate in the later innings. You can thank Jimmy Nelson for that, as he uncorked two wild pitches. Here’s how Nelson’s seventh inning went. Pop out, walk, double, wild pitch, wild pitch (Barnes injured on the play at the plate) walk. I know Graterol and Kelly are hurt, but Nelson has been cooked for several years. The Dodgers are better off just calling someone up from Oklahoma City then going with Nelson. It’s not hard to see this.
Despite all the mistakes the Dodgers actually had the tying and winning runs on base in the top of the ninth with Mookie Betts at the plate. They were able to create plenty of scoring opportunities. Gavin Lux recorded two hits (going 2 for 4) and drove in a run. Max Muncy had an RBI single in the sixth and Corey Seager a run scoring base knock in the eighth. The Dodgers had the bases loaded in the ninth down by three runs, but Daniel Bard struck got Mookie Betts to line out to second to end the game. I know it’s only one game and we have 161 left to go but losing to a second division team like the Rockies on opening day is embarrassing. I love Kershaw, but if you can’t get out guys like Elias Diaz, Garrett Hampson, and Chris Owings then something is not right. The Dodgers will turn the page on Friday evening as the series continues with Trevor Bauer making his Dodgers debut. Let’s hope the Dodgers make things go right tomorrow.