The start of the 2016 season for the San Diego Padres is almost like the movie Groundhog's Day. A shutout, a shutout, and another shutout. Three straight games, three straight shutouts, and an MLB record 27 consecutive scoreless innings to start the season for the Padres offense, breaking the record set in 1943 by the St. Louis Browns, who went 26 scoreless innings to start the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers made minced meat of their Southern California rivals, beating the Padres 7-0 on Wednesday night. The Dodgers outscored the Padres 25-0 in the first three games of the season. Not exactly the start Andy Green wanted for his managerial career, but things can only go up from here.
It was a series to forget for the Padres, and a series the Dodgers needed to start the season, even with a ton of players on the shelf.
The Dodgers rode the hot hand of "rookie" Kenta Maeda, who made his first MLB start since coming from Japan, where he played eight season with the Hiroshima Carp.
Maeda Dazzles on Mound and With Bat
Maeda seemed like a natural up there. After signing an 8-year deal with the Dodgers in the offseason, many people questioned whether the Japanese star could translate his game to the major leagues.
Kenta had no problems on Wednesday night, as he had a dazzling performance. Maeda finished the game with six shutout innings and five hits to go with four strikeouts. To put an exclamation mark on Maeda's debut outing, the pitcher hit a homerun in just his second career at-bat in America, taking Andrew Cashner deep to left in the fourth inning.
Maeda circled the bases quickly, waved to the crowd after rounding third, and was given the silent treatment in the dugout before his teammates jumped all over him.
"I didn't know that the ball's going to go in, so I was running really hard. That's all I thought about," Maeda said through a translator.
The silent treatment was expected, but Maeda was a bit confused on what was happening.
"I was surprised but then everybody moments later came. I was very surprised at first," Maeda said.
Kenta has a delivery similar to another foreign Dodgers pitcher: Hideo Nomo. He sure looked like Nomo out there on the mound, and if this is what the future holds, the Dodgers have a marvelous 1-2-3 punch in Kershaw-Kazmir-Maeda.
Maeda had the benefit of stepping onto the mound with four runs before he even threw a single pitch. Justin Turner drove in Chase Utley with a single to right, Carl Crawford doubled to left to drive in Turner, and Joc Pederson knocked in two runs with a single to center, scoring Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford. Four runs before Maeda even stepped on the mound was definitely a big help for the man making his major league debut.
"I was a little bit nervous at first but my teammates scored four runs for me so that relaxed me a lot," Maeda said. "I was able to get on the mound the way I usually do and pitch the way I usually do."
The Dodgers scored another run with Maeda's bomb in the fourth, and Yasiel Puig homered in the top of the eighth to make it 6-0. Turner knocked in the seventh and final run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth.
Padres Scoreless (Again)
This is getting awfully familiar for the Padres. Another game, no runs, a few hits, and a loss.
The Padres managed five hits, the most in any game this series, but still couldn't squander a run. They did get awfully close, and arguably should've had at least one run.
With two on in the sixth, Wil Myers hit a soft grounder to first. Cory Spangenberg raced home from third base and Gonzalez threw a strike to A.J. Ellis miles before Spangy was at home plate. The throw was there and Spangenberg was called out at the plate. However, manager Andy Green challenged the call, and the replay appeared to show that the speedy Padres second baseman touched the plate before Ellis tagged him with the ball.
The umpires went to the booth, listening to the officials in New York who ultimately make the decision. The result of the challenge after more than three minutes of review? Play stands. Spangenberg out at the plate.
Andy Green was upset at the time, but was over it after the game.
"The reality is this: we had ample opportunities to score runs and I'm not going to cry about a call that is made in New York," Green said. "We had two chances with a guy on third base and we hit two soft ground balls. That is our opportunity."
Andrew Cashner made his first start of the season, and will look to rebound after a tough outing. Cash went just four frames, giving up six hits and five runs, all earned, including four runs in the first inning. Cashner also walked a pair and struck out five, but threw 94 pitches in just four innings.
Matt Kemp had two hits on the night, with Myers, Jon Jay, and Yan Solarte getting the rest of the hits. The Padres will have Thursday off, and will look to have a runner cross home plate on Friday.
"There is still perspective here, not to be lost," Green said. "We still do have 159 games left and we will score runs this year. And we will win series this year."
Green is cool, calm, and collected. He has a point. This is three games, one series, against a three-headed monster of dynamic pitchers. The Padres will turn things around.
The Dodgers will head north to take on the San Francisco Giants in a four-game series. The Padres will have Thursday off before heading to Colorado to face the Rockies on Friday.