Baseball Report

If the Los Angeles Dodgers’ plan was to win every series this season, they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start than to take three of four against the San Francisco Giants in the opening series at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 on Opening Day followed by a 4-3 win, 10-0 loss and 7-5 victory in the series finale on Sunday. It was the first time that the Dodgers won three of four over the Giants since 2001.

“That’s the plan, try to win every series,” Dodgers centerfielder Matt Kemp said. “I know we can’t win every game, but we can try to win every series.”

Of course, winning every series is a solid goal if the Dodgers want to win the NL West. If they did take each series, they’d finish 113-49. That would likely be more than enough to do it. But for now, winning a series against the defending World Series champs and division favorite is a plus.

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw held San Francisco to a run on four hits and one walk while striking out nine in seven innings in last Thursday’s opener. Matt Kemp scored the go-ahead run in the sixth on a throwing error by Giants catcher Buster Posey, and scored again in the eighth on a double by James Loney. Don Mattingly won his debut as Dodgers manager.

Los Angeles made it two straight on Friday behind Chad Billingsley. Rafael Furcal singled in the go-ahead run in that game. After getting rocked on Saturday (Ted Lilly gave up four runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings), the Dodgers finished the series on top on Sunday.

Marcus Thames, who arrived in L.A. as a free agent after hitting a career-high .288 with the New York Yankees last season, drove in the lead run on a triple in a four-run seventh.

Thames got a little help from Aubrey Huff in right field, who turned the deep fly ball into an adventure. Huff also misplayed Jamey Carroll’s liner in the first inning by diving for the ball that got under his glove for a run-scoring triple. Kemp then homered for a 3-0 lead.

“It’s not like I was trying to screw them up,” said Huff, who played most of his games at first base last season. “I was trying my best to catch them. Those plays aren’t easy.”

Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton got his third save on Sunday, the 80th of his career. He didn’t get his third save last year until May 9, in game 31.

“We’re winning, so I’m happy,” Broxton said.

Where are the fans? The Cleveland Indians set records for lowest attendance at Progressive Field in consecutive games on Saturday and Sunday. After an Opening Day crowd of 41,721 last Friday, paid attendance was 9,853 on Saturday, setting a new club record at the ball park. That mark was short-lived when Sunday’s attendance was announced at 8,726, another new low at Progressive. The Indians lost two of three to the Chicago White Sox.

Broom, please: There were four sweeps of season-opening series. Baltimore took its series 3-0 over host Tampa Bay as Zach Britton won his major league debut on Sunday; Texas hit four solo home runs on Sunday to sweep its three-game series with Boston; Ryan Howard homered and knocked in four runs in Philadelphia’s victory on Sunday, winning its series in three over Houston, and Ryan Hanigan hit two homers on Sunday as Cincinnati completed its 3-0 sweep over Milwaukee.

Quotable: “I want to make this pledge to Mets fans — our team will play the game the right way. We will always hustle on the bases, run balls down in the outfield and never take anything for granted, no matter the score of the game. — New manager Terry Collins’ letter to Mets fans prior to the team’s season opener.

Diamond Notes: Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with a strained left oblique muscle and might miss three or more weeks…Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, who underwent an appendectomy last Friday, could return to the lineup this weekend. Holliday asked not to go on the DL. He went 3-for-4 with a home run in an Opening Day loss to San Diego…Minor league outfielder Preston Mattingly, the son of Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, was released by the Indians over the weekend…Texas Rangers’ Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz became the first pair of teammates to homer in each of the first three games in a season…Mark Teixeira became the first Yankee to hit a home run in each of the season’s first three games since Dave Winfield in 1983.

Copyright © 2011 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.


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