New Rules, New Faces, But Same Result as Dodgers Defeat D-Backs 8-2 on Opening Day – NBC Los Angeles
For more than a century baseball has been America’s pastime. The slow-pace, the smell of fresh cut grass, and the crack of the bat have mesmerized us. There was nothing like heading out to the ballpark on a warm summer day, having a hot dog, and watching the Dodgers. Baseball, the only major sport without a time clock, was always unique. A buzzer didn’t dictate when the game was over, the game itself did.
But over the years, baseball has been slow to adapt. Fans have found other forms of sports entertainment and attendance numbers across the league have dropped. Finally, after the 2022 season, MLB did something about it.
Opening Day didn’t just usher in another season of Dodger baseball, but new transformative rules and a new-look for the Boys in Blue.
The first official pitch clock violation came with one out and the basesloaded in the bottom of the eighth inning. Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel became the first victim of the new rule when he took to long to throw a pitch to Dodgers’ catcher Will Smith.
For fans headed to the ballpark this season, expect to see a lot more of that throughout the season as the giant digital clocks in centerfield counting down every 30 seconds was more noticeable than an elephant in a tuxedo.
Gone are the shifts that saw a third baseman playing shallow right field. Pickoff attempts are less frequent. The bases are bigger and the game is faster. Overall, it should be a better experience for fans.
Also noticeable was the Dodgers roster. Gone are the familiar names from the past few seasons. Cody Bellinger, the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player, is now in Chicago. Longtime Dodger third baseman Justin Turner is now in Boston, and last year’s All-Star shortstop Trea Turner now calls Philadelphia his home.
In their place are aging veterans like Jason Heyward, J.D. Martinez, Miguel Rojas, and David Peralta. As well as rookies like Miguel Vargas, James Outman, and Michael Grove.
Heck, even the lights at Dodger Stadium are rookies!
Despite the players and the game changing, the Dodgers did not. Will Smith knocked in three, and Outman hit the first homer of the season as the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-2 on Thursday night.
The Dodgers even had a new Opening Day starter. After almost a decade of Clayton Kershaw taking the mound in the primary game of the season, this time it was fan favorite and Mexico native Julio Urias getting the ball.
Urias allowed runs in each of the first two frames, but settled in after that, allowing just two runs on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks, earning his first win of the season.
Urias seemed unaffected by the new rules. He worked quickly and efficiently, especially after struggling with his command in the first inning.
Overall, it was the hitters that seemed the most affected by the new pitch-clock. Max Muncy, likes to step out of the box during at-bats, and rarely strikes out, wore a “platinum sombrero” also known as “the Olympic rings” by striking out five times on Thursday.
But some of the younger players, who had an entire season in Triple-A to adjust to the new rules in 2022, hardly seemed affected by the changes.
Outman, who famously homered in his first Major League at-bat at Coors Field in Colorado last season, crushed a four-seam fastball over the wall in left-center for the Dodgers first home run of the season. Smith went 3-for-4 with four RBI and a run scored.
Shelby Miller, another new-face for the Dodgers, but a familiar one for the Diamondbacks, pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief.
Welcome to a new era in Dodgers baseball, and the game in general for that matter. There’s going to be complications and growing pains as the new rules take effect and players and fans get acclimated, but overall the game is faster and more improved.
Opening Day lasted two hours and 34 minutes. By comparison, last season’s Opening Day in Colorado took three hours and nine minutes to complete. At the end of the day, the results were the same: a Dodgers victory.