Game #1: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? I'm not sure I even remember how to do these, it has been so long. Welcome to the 2014 major-league baseball season. Tonight starts the Diamondbacks' journey to the World Series. Whether that dream lasts till morning, we'll see.

lad_medium

Clayton Kershaw
LHP, 0-0, N/A
ari_medium

Wade Miley
LHP, 0-0, N/A

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. A.J. Pollock, CF
  2. Aaron Hill, 2B
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Martin Prado, 3B
  5. Mark Trumbo, LF
  6. Miguel Montero, C
  7. Chris Owings, SS
  8. Gerardo Parra, RF
  9. Wade Miley, P

Surprising how little has changed for the D-backs. I snagged the basic layout for this preview from the very first spring game, on February 26, because it was also against the Dodgers, with us the home team. Hey, why write when you can copy/paste, right? But I hardly had to change the Arizona line-up either. All I had to do was delete the DH, replace Cliff Pennington with Owings, swap out our starting pitcher [which was Brandon McCarthy], and we were good to go. Seems like Kirk Gibson had a plan coming into spring, and has stuck with it. Still don't know whether it will be Owings or Gregorius once the long-haul flights are over, and the long-haul season begins.

Speaking of which, in case you missed it, here's the 25-man roster for these two games, consisting of 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 7 infielders and 4 outfielders:

  • Pitchers (12): Trevor Cahill, Josh Collmenter, Randall Delgado, Will Harris, David Hernandez, Wade Miley, Oliver Perez, J.J. Putz, Addison Reed, Bo Schultz, Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler.
  • Catchers (2): Tuffy Gosewisch and Miguel Montero.
  • Infielders (7): Eric Chavez, Paul Goldschmidt, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hill, Chris Owings, Cliff Pennington and Martin Prado.
  • Outfielders (4): Tony Campana, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo.
  • Inactive (3): Bronson Arroyo, Patrick Corbin and Brandon McCarthy.
  • Traveling Party Inactive (5): Henry Blanco, Archie Bradley, Charles Brewer, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Zeke Spruill.

Only real surprise is the decision to go with two catchers rather than three, which has opened up a spot for Bo Schultz in the bullpen. It'll be interesting to see how the expanded relief corps - in effect, a ten-man pen - plays into tactics. One imagines Gibson will be quick with the hook if he sees Miley struggling, considering he can use five relievers tonight and still have another, entirely different five for tomorrow night's game in Sydney!

This game is going to be a grind to get through, because it won't even start in Arizona until well after last season's contests were all put to bed. Most of our marathons took place further East, so still ended at a relatively civilized hour. I think the latest finish was the 16-inning game against the Cardinals in the opening series, which had the book closed at about ten past midnight. At that point tonight, you will still be able to watch a couple of episodes of Vikings before game time, with a first pitch scheduled for 1:41 am. It'll likely be close to five am by the time it's all over: hotclaws, Wimb and shoewizard are likely the only three who'll appreciate this scheduling!

The Diamondbacks have a lengthy Opening Day winning streak on the line, not having lost since 2006 - the Dodgers have won their last three too, all Kershaw starts, so one or other streak will end here. We've faced Los Angeles three times as our first contest (we're 1-2 overall), although not for a while. We'll certainly be hoping to avoid a repeat of the last encounter, an 8-0 drubbing in 2003, where Hideo Nomo pitching a four-hit shutout. I'd settle for the same score as the 2001 game, when Johnson got the W, as we prevailed 3-2. The starting pitcher for the Dodgers there? Eric Gagne, who started 24 times for them that season. Here's their line-up for tonight.

  1. Yasiel Puig, RF
  2. Justin Turner, 2B
  3. Hanley Ramirez, SS
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  5. Scott Van Slyke, LF
  6. Juan Uribe, 3B
  7. Andre Ethier, CF
  8. A.J. Ellis, C
  9. Clayton Kershaw, P

It'll be Kershaw's fourth Opening Day start - ominously, he has yet to allow a run, over 19 innings, with a mere 10 hits and two walks in that time, alongside 19 K's, Yep, it's not going to be easy. Still, if you want someone who can remain cool under pressure, there's likely no-one better on the Diamondbacks than Wade Miley, who would probably not be fazed if asked to main event Wrestlemania (he'd fit in with the Wyatt Family quite well, actually!). He becomes the seventh Opening Day starter in Arizona franchise history, joining Johnson (six times), Brandon Webb (four), Ian Kennedy (three), plus Javier Vazquez, Dan Haren and Andy Benes (one each)

The Diamondbacks have done well against Kershaw of late, beating the Dodgers in each of his last six starts versus us, even though his ERA in those games is a solid 2.72. They've been low-scoring games; Arizona scored a total of 19 runs in those six contests. Three of those, we shut out Los Angeles, and it's essential Miley keeps their offense in check, especially early on. In this kind of match-up, it's usually the team that makes the fewest errors [small E, including things like TOOTBLANs] which prevails, so we'll see if we can play sound fundamental baseball and come out on top.

It should be fun. I've got my stock of caffeinated beverages chilling nicely in the fridge, and am looking forward to watching a Diamondbacks Opening Day which promises to be quite like no other we've ever seen!

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