SAN DIEGO: Apparently any ol’ left-hander can do it.
Following up on Clayton Kershaw’s dominant performance in the season opener, Scott Kazmir made it look even easier. He combined with the bullpen on a two-hit shutout as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres, 3-0, Tuesday night at Petco Park.
Kazmir retired 18 of the 19 batters he faced, including the last 17. One night after managing just one hit in seven innings against Kershaw, the Padres put just one runner on base in the first eight innings against Kazmir, Pedro Baez and Chris Hatcher – an infield single by Cory Spangenberg on a ground ball fielded by Chase Utley behind second base.
Kazmir was in control after that, striking out five, allowing an assortment of lazy fly balls and easy grounders – and assuaging, at least for one time through the rotation, any angst carried over from Zack Greinke’s departure over the winter.
“No, I didn’t think about that at all,” Kazmir said of the rotation slot he is filling. “I got asked a lot of questions about it. But I just worried about getting out on the mound and doing what I know I was capable of doing.”
He was in no hurry about it. Kazmir fed the angst with poor spring training results. Though he remained unflappable, saying he always builds slowly towards the season, Kazmir had a spring ERA of 5.57, a 1.84 WHIP and .346 opponent’s average — numbers that don’t include the ‘B’ game he requested to pitch in so he and catcher Yasmani Grandal could work on finding his preferred tempo.
“It’s one of those things where you have to look at his track record,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Tuesday’s performance made those spring worries seem silly. “A lot was made about his spring training but he knew what it takes to get ready for the season.
“[He used his] fastball, cutter, threw some great changeups when he needed to. He kept those guys off balance all night, front to back [changing speeds]. He really pitched to the gameplan tonight. … He threw great.”
Roberts went to the bullpen after only 75 pitches from Kazmir, citing the three-day layoff for key members of his bullpen. Baez and Hatcher each retired the side in order in their inning, striking out two of the three batters they faced. Kenley Jansen closed it out in the ninth, giving up the second hit when Jon Jay’s ground ball up the middle ricocheted off his foot.
The Dodgers’ offense wasn’t as robust as the record 15-run opener Monday. In fact, the first time through the lineup against Padres starter James Shields the Dodgers were just 1 for 8 with a single from Corey Seager [the first of his three hits in the game]and a walk.
They started shooting rockets into the Padres’ outfield in the fourth inning. Seager led off with a single. Matt Kemp made an outstanding catch on Justin Turner’s bid for extra bases, flagging it down on the run as it sailed over his head.
But Adrian Gonzalez followed with a double to center field and Yasiel Puig drove in two runs with a triple over the head of Padres center fielder Jon Jay. Carl Crawford drove Puig in with a single through the left side of the field.