Dodgers return to LA for home opener
Los Angeles (4-3) vs. San Francisco (2-4), 1:10 p.m. PT
Dodgers fans worried that their starting rotation is too young can see the other end of the spectrum Monday in the home opener when 24-year-old Chad Billingsley starts against the San Francisco Giants and Randy Johnson.
At 45 years and seven months, Johnson is older than the combined ages for Dodgers starters Clayton Kershaw and James McDonald (45 years, six months). Johnson is 7-0 lifetime at Dodger Stadium with a 2.04 ERA.
But the Dodgers return with their first win streak of the season, having won the past two games against the D-backs and gone 4-3 on the opening trip without a home run from Manny Ramirez, who must be saving the long ball for Mannywood.
Billingsley is 3-0 with a 3.69 ERA in 10 games (and six starts) against the Giants in his career. He pitched four games against San Francisco last year and went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA, including his only Major League shutout on July 30.
"There's always a different atmosphere on Opening Day, even if it's the first one at home, and Dodgers fans always come out, they're always excited," said Randy Wolf, Sunday's winning pitcher and a Southern California native.
"Whether we've already played exhibition games at home or not [which the Dodgers did last weekend], you can't replace Opening Day when it matters."
Manager Joe Torre said this opener won't have the same emotional meaning for him as last year, when he made his Dodgers debut, but it's still special.
"We've already played games, but it still takes on significant feeling," he said. "Last year was the first one for me, and I got pretty jittery. But we'll still have butterflies with all the pomp and circumstance. Having already had games under our belt helps in the playing of the game. We should be pretty comfortable and ready to play."
This will be the Dodgers' 48th season at Dodger Stadium, the 11th home opener against the Giants since the two teams moved to California, the second straight and fourth of the past eight. The Dodgers are 26-25 in home openers since their move to Los Angeles, including a 23-24 mark at Dodger Stadium and a 5-0 win over the Giants last year.
Opening Day pregame ceremonies will feature an international theme and will include Ford C. Frick Award-winning announcer Vin Scully throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Scully is in his 60th year as the broadcasting voice of the team.Pitching matchup
LAD: RHP Chad Billingsley (1-0, 3.00 ERA)
Billingsley showed no negative effects from his playoff debacle against Philadelphia, the broken leg he suffered in the winter or the strained groin from the spring. Five of his six innings against San Diego were scoreless, the only blemish a two-run hitless fifth inning when he suddenly couldn't throw a strike and walked three consecutive batters. SF: LHP Randy Johnson (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
The Big Unit thrived at the outset of his San Francisco regular-season debut last Wednesday, striking out two batters in each of the first three innings. Johnson finished with seven strikeouts in five innings, but he also finished with a loss as the opposing pitcher, Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, belted a three-run homer. Johnson remains five wins away from becoming the 24th pitcher in history to win 300 games. He has never lost at Dodger Stadium, where he's 7-0 in 11 outings with a 2.04 ERA. Tidbits
Although Matt Kemp did not start on Sunday, he doubled in his only at-bat after replacing Juan Pierre in center field in the eighth inning and has hit in all seven games this year. ... Russell Martin singled leading off the ninth on Sunday and scored and has now hit in the past three games. ... Reliever Hong-Chih Kuo has not allowed a run in his three innings this season. ... Closer Jonathan Broxton has three saves after seven games. Takashi Saito recorded his third save last year on April 29. Tickets
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Wednesday: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-0, 1.80) vs. Giants (Matt Cain, 1-0, 1.29), 7:10 p.m. PT
Thursday: Dodgers (James McDonald, 0-1, 19.29) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 0-1, 9.00), 7:10 p.m. PT
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.