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Dodgers' offensive depth the difference in season-opening comeback over Padres
Major League Baseball

Dodgers' offensive depth the difference in season-opening comeback over Padres

Updated Mar. 20, 2024 1:19 p.m. ET

The first game of the 2024 season will be remembered for the hole in Seoul. 

For seven innings of the first game of the season-opening Seoul Series in Korea, the Padres kept the freshly-assembled juggernaut Dodgers offense in check. It was not until a seemingly harmless ground ball chopped to the right side of the infield off the bat of Gavin Lux that the Dodgers found their literal opening.

The ball went straight through the webbing of first baseman Jake Cronenworth's glove and kept trickling into short right field. What should have been an inning-ending double play instead gave the Dodgers their first lead of the night, one they would not relinquish in a 5-2 win. 

With all the firepower on both sides, it was not the outburst of offense many might have expected. Neither team recorded an extra-base hit at the Gocheok Sky Dome. The Dodgers had myriad opportunities early on but finished 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.


Still, they broke through when it mattered, providing a taste in the eighth inning of the damage their lineup can inflict.

The error on Lux's go-ahead grounder turned the lineup over to Mookie Betts, who recorded an RBI single, and Shohei Ohtani, who followed with one of his own. Ohtani went 2-for-5 in his first game as a Dodger, and the MVP trio of Betts, Ohtani and Freddie Freeman combined to reach base eight times from the top three spots of the lineup. 

But it was the bottom of the Dodgers' stacked lineup that flipped the game. 

The first player to appear for the Padres from their Juan Soto trade this winter was pitcher Jhony Brito, who emerged from the bullpen nursing a 2-1 lead with a runner on base in the eighth. Padres manager Mike Shildt preferred the right-on-right matchup against Teoscar Hernández, who singled up the middle. Brito then walked James Outman to load the bases before allowing a game-tying sacrifice fly to Kiké Hernández

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Adrian Morejon relieved Brito and got the grounder he was looking for from Lux. A double play would have kept the game tied at 2. Instead, it set the Dodgers' win in motion. 

"Fortunate break for us," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "You've got to take them when you can get them."  

Tesocar Hernández's eighth-inning hit was the Dodgers' first with a runner on base all night. They forced Padres starter Yu Darvish to work but had failed to capitalize on their opportunities until that point. 

Darvish walked three and struck out three, none bigger than the swing and miss he got from Max Muncy to escape a bases-loaded jam in the third inning. By then, he was already at 64 pitches. His day ended after 3.2 innings with one unearned run allowed. Neither starting pitcher was long for the performance, but both escaped largely unscathed. 

Tyler Glasnow walked four and struck out three while making his second career Opening Day start and first ever appearance for the Dodgers. He did not allow a hit until the third inning, when Xander Bogaerts poked an RBI single for the first run of the season. Bogaerts had two of the Padres' four hits on the night.

Glasnow leaned almost entirely on his fastball and slider and lamented the lack of feel he had for his curveball, which elicited only one swing and miss and often was spiked into the dirt. Both runs Glasnow allowed came home after a leadoff walk. The Dodgers trailed 2-1 when he departed after five innings. 

The game would be decided by the bullpens, which did not end well for a San Diego team now missing Josh Hader, Nick Martinez and Luis García, who were the leaders in relief innings for the Padres last year. 

For the Dodgers, Ryan Brasier, Daniel Hudson, Joe Kelly and Evan Phillips combined to allow just two baserunners in the final four innings. The Padres, meanwhile, turned to seven different relievers, who kept things on track until the eighth, despite San Diego pitchers committing four pitch clock violations on the night.

One of those violations from reliever Wandy Peralta ended in a Muncy walk to start the eighth inning, waking up a Dodgers offense that could only stay dormant for so long. 

Rowan Kavner is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the L.A. Dodgers, LA Clippers and Dallas Cowboys. An LSU grad, Rowan was born in California, grew up in Texas, then moved back to the West Coast in 2014. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner.


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