Dodgers provide Lindblom memorable 48 hours
SAN DIEGO -- Not a bad couple of days for a guy who wasn’t even supposed to be on the Dodgers' roster.
But Ted Lilly is lost to a stiff neck to start the season, and on the final day they can add a reliever to the team, they tell Josh Lindblom he’ll be on the opening-day roster.
Then opening day arrives Thursday, Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is sick and can go only three innings, and the call goes to Lindblom. Who throws two scoreless innings and picks up the victory.
“It’s been an awesome 48 hours,” the 24-year-old Lindblom said. “I couldn’t even imagine making my first opening-day roster. And now having that win on opening day and being able to pitch and a part of all of this. It’s a special, special experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Kershaw was fighting flu prior to the game, but was determined to start.
“After warming up, I honestly didn’t expect him to go out there and start,” said catcherA.J. Ellis. “That just shows his character.”
The team all knew what Kershaw was going through, and long man Jamey Wright warmed up early.
“At that point, you’re kind of on high alert,” Lindblom said.
Kershaw was not exactly his normal dominating self, but was still good enough to hold the Padres scoreless for three innings. Then he hit the wall.
“He was done,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “He was knocked out. The last time I saw him, he was lying on the floor.”
So the call went to the bullpen, not for Wright or anyone else scheduled to be part of it this season, but to Lindblom.
“I was a little surprised. but whatever role I have to fill on this team – whether it’s long, short, one batter, whatever it is – I’m just going to come out and compete, and give the team a chance to win,” Lindblom said.
First game, and the bullpen needed the kid to bring calm to a tense situation.
“You don’t want to start off on opening day by blowing out your bullpen,” Mattingly said. “Those were two huge scoreless innings.”
Lindblom had not thrown two consecutive innings all spring.
“I kind of figured it would be a multi-inning situation, but the mind-set can’t change,” Lindblom said. “You still have to attack hitters and go right after them. Just go as hard as you can, as long as you can, until Donny or Rick (Honeycutt) say we’re bringing somebody else in.”
In his two innings, Lindblom retired six consecutive batters.
“When Clayton Kershaw starts, it’s almost a day off for the middle of the bullpen, if not the end,” Ellis said. “What Josh Lindblom did in the fourth and fifth was huge.”