The only two teams with a nine-inning game to their credit this season will get together again Friday as the Los Angeles Dodgers play host to San Francisco Giants in the second game of a four-game series.
In Thursday’s opener inside of an empty Dodger Stadium, new Los Angeles superstar Mookie Betts scored the go-ahead run and Enrique Hernandez had four hits and five RBIs in an 8-1 Dodgers victory. The Dodgers scored seven times after the sixth inning against the San Francisco bullpen.
The game came after the New York Yankees earned a 4-1, rain-shortened victory over the Washington Nationals in Thursday’s only other contest. The game at Nationals Park was halted in the top of the sixth inning due to the weather.
The Dodgers, known for their elite pitching, are beginning the 2020 season with a bit of a curveball. Rookie Dustin May started the opener after Clayton Kershaw (back) went on the injured list Thursday, and right-hander Ross Stripling will start in Game 2.
Stripling, an All-Star in 2018 who was 4-4 last year with a 3.47 ERA in 32 appearances (15 starts), got his place in the rotation only after new Dodgers left-hander David Price opted out of the shortened season.
It was not very long into spring training when Stripling learned the Dodgers did not intend to have him in the season-opening rotation. That changed when Price announced his decision.
“I was disappointed at the time because I remember wanting to feel like I had an opportunity to go earn a rotation spot, and I was being told that I would get that opportunity,” Stripling said. “I felt that I didn’t really get a fair shake on trying to earn that spot. That’s not saying Julio (Urias) and Alex (Wood) didn’t deserve it. Heck, man, we’ve got seven or eight guys that can be in our starting rotation, so it’s certainly not a shot at them.”
Stripling made his major league debut at San Francisco in April 2016 and was removed after 7 1/3 innings with a no-hitter intact. Not only did the Giants end up getting a late hit, but they rallied for a 3-2 victory against the Dodgers’ bullpen.
In 14 career games against the Giants (four starts), Stripling is 1-3 with a 3.55 ERA.
The Giants will counter with right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who was 11-12 with a 3.52 ERA last season in 32 starts. The 13th-year veteran has 11 career appearances (nine starts) against the Dodgers with a 2-5 record and a 3.83 ERA.
Samardzija actually has experience playing a game without fans, which is how the 2020 season is being conducted because of the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2015, Samardzija started for the Chicago White Sox in a game against the Baltimore Orioles that was played in an empty Camden Yards because of civil unrest in the area.
“It was a weird experience overall,” said Samardzija, who gave up six runs in the first inning that day as his White Sox lost 8-2. “It was like a pickup game in a way. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
He won’t have a say about it on Friday, but it shouldn’t be weird for him this time around. Samardzija was solid in his lone start at Dodger Stadium last season, earning a victory on Sept. 6 after he gave up three runs on five hits over six innings with no walks and three strikeouts.
Betts went 1-for-5 in his Dodgers debut. He has no hits and one strikeout in five career at-bats against Samardzija, with one walk.
–Field Level Media