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Dodgers off to a nice start, but don't get too excited

April 11, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier celebrate as teammate Tony Gwynn Jr. runs by after the Dodgers beat the Pirates, 2-1, on Tuesday.
Dodgers outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier celebrate as teammate Tony… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Easy there, buckaroo. Slow breaths. Find your center.

There is no getting all excited about the Dodgers' 4-1 start allowed. Will not be tolerated. It’s five games, OK? Five out of 162.

Better yet, five games against the Padres and Pirates, teams that last year finished 71-91 and 72-90, respectively. Teams that if the Dodgers are going to even dream of competing they are supposed to beat the snot out of.

Yeah, it's better than the alternative. Beats going 1-4 or even 2-3 out of the chute. A nice start, but not season-defining. Not the cause of some giant exhale of apprehension.

Is going 4-1 to start the season any different than going 4-1 in August? OK, there, I can play a little. If you’re a team coming off consecutive mediocre seasons, a strong start can’t help but give the confidence a needed boost.

“Obviously, the first month of the season doesn’t make or break the season,” said Clayton Kershaw. “But at the same time if you can get off to that good start, it definitely gives you quick confidence.

“As a hitter, if you get those first couple of hits it just takes the pressure off. It’s the same thing as a team. You get those first couple of wins under your belt, you realize you can do it and realize your team has the ability to do it, so the confidence just kind of carries over.”

The Dodgers, however, are operating with a razor-thin margin of error. They are not going to blow teams away. They’re going to edge teams, steal victories, learn to do those infamous little things.

Of the Dodgers’ first four victories, two have been by one run and another by two. And I repeat, against the lowly Padres and Pirates. But this does follow a 25-10 finish to last season, and combined with a nice start, provides a needy team with hope.

“Guys were fired up [coming out of the spring] about what we thought we were capable of doing,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We know we don’t have a lot of room for error and have to play well every day, through the whole season. The momentum we were able to grab at the end of the season last year only helps us if we can get off to a good start.”

Andre Ethier said the only good thing about starting off 4-1 is that it leaves four games less you have to win later.

“It’s a tough thing to do at the end of August and September, trying to make up wins,” Ethier said. “I remember one thingJoe [Torre] always used to say when he got here, a lot of division titles are won in April with big wins, getting out to a good start and not playing catch-up.”

After the Pirates leave, the Padres are back. Then after three against Milwaukee, comes a Houston team that won only 56 games last season.

A fast start is almost demanded. Just maintain the enthusiasm if it happens.


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