After the Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace stymied Arizona hitters to open the season Down Under, the Diamondbacks hope Trevor Cahill can return the favor and continue his mastery over their NL West rivals.
The right-hander looks to improve to 7-0 against the Dodgers and help the Diamondbacks split the season-opening series in Australia on Sunday.
In MLB’s first opener in Australia, Clayton Kershaw backed his seven-year, $215 million contract by allowing a run, five hits and striking out seven with a walk in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory over Arizona on Saturday in front of about 40,000 fans at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
"The fans were great, they were into it, and it was great to get the win," Dodgers left fielder Scott Van Slyke told the MLB official website after he hit a two-run homer and doubled.
While Van Slyke supported Kershaw and helped Los Angeles start the season on a positive note, the Diamondbacks’ struggles began even before they reached the ballpark. The Arizona team bus had a flat tire en route to the park, and some players decided to walk the last half-mile to the stadium instead of waiting for a replacement bus.
Paul Goldschmidt scored on a Mark Trumbo grounder in the sixth inning and had two of the five hits for the Diamondbacks, who lost 5-0 to Team Australia in an exhibition game Friday.
"We’d like to score more runs, and I think offensively we’re a much better club than we’ve shown here," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
"We have 161 games left, so you try and learn some things and learn what they’re trying to do against us and hopefully we’ll do better (Sunday)."
Though the Dodgers also had five hits and generated just enough offense without Matt Kemp (ankle) and Carl Crawford (paternity leave), they could find the going tougher versus Cahill, who is 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 starts against them.
Plagued by a hip injury that forced him to miss more than a month, Cahill went 8-10 with a 3.99 ERA in 26 games last season. However, he was 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in four starts versus Los Angeles.
Yasiel Puig hit .319 with 19 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games during a stellar rookie season for the Dodgers in 2013, but was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and two walks versus Cahill. Puig went hitless with three strikeouts in five at-bats Saturday.
Adrian Gonzalez, who doubled and scored twice in the opener, is 9 for 20 with two doubles, a homer and seven strikeouts versus Cahill.
While Zack Greinke continues to deal with a calf injury, the Dodgers hand the ball to left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu on Sunday. Ryu went 12-3 with a 2.91 ERA in his first 23 major-league starts last year, but was 2-5 with a 3.30 ERA in the final seven of the regular season. He was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two playoff starts.
Though Ryu went 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA in five starts versus Arizona, he’s excited to begin this season after going 1-0 with a 2.20 ERA in four spring training appearances.
"I had a really good spring, and I feel really good," he told the Dodgers’ official website. "I have high expectations."
Batting .405 in his last 31 games versus Los Angeles, Goldschmidt went 7 for 14 with two doubles and a home run against Ryu last season.
Trumbo, Arizona’s biggest offseason acquisition, drove in the lone run but was 0 for 4 with a strikeout in his Diamondbacks debut.