Exhuberant fans go after a foul ball as the Dodgers take batting practice… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
Maybe the Dodgers should have signed Clayton Kershaw for that $200 million extension this preseason when they had the chance.
He looked like a guy whose price is going up Monday in the Dodgers' 4-0 victory over the Giants in the season opener for both teams before a Dodger Stadium sellout crowd of 53,138.
Kershaw was absolutely dominant on the mound, going all the way for an opening-day shutout. He held the Giants to four hits, did not allow a walk and struck out seven.
And, oh yeah, hit a solo home run in the eighth to break open a scoreless tie.
He became the first pitcher since Bob Lemon in 1953 to throw an opening-day shutout and hit a home run. It was the first homer in Kershaw's five-year career.
Inspired by Clayton Kershaw's offensive heroics, the Dodgers kept it rolling in the eighth Monday, scoring three more after his solo homer to take a 4-0 lead.
Carl Crawford followed the home run with a double down the left-field line, Mark Ellis' bunt fell for a single and Matt Kemp walked.
Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt came on to pitch to left-handed hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, but immediately hit Gonzalez with a pitch to load the bases. Crawford scored on a wild pitch and Ethier's groundout to second scored one more.
Luis Cruz was walked intentionally but A.J. Ellis' grounded out to drive in the fourth run.
With the game still scoreless and Clayton Kershaw leading off the bottom of the inning, Manager Don Mattingly had a decision to make:
Let Kershaw, who had been dominant, remain in the game or pinch hit?
Kershaw had thrown only 85 pitches and allowed just three hits. Mattingly elected to let him swing. And afterward was extremely glad.
Kershaw responded by driving the first pitch he saw from reliever George Kontos out to center for a solo home run. The sellout crowd exploded.
Suddenly, almost stunningly, the Dodgers had a 1-0 lead Monday in their season opener against the Giants.
It was the first home run of Kershaw's career.
Somebody is going to have to blink.
After 6 1/2 innings, it remains all scoreless in the Dodgers-Giants season opener. Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain pitched almost exactly the kind of duel expected.
At least Cain's day was done after his six innings. He held the Dodgers scoreless on four hits, striking out eight and walking one. Right-hander George Kontos took over for Cain in the bottom of the seventh.
Cain was at his best when in trouble. After Mark Ellis led off the bottom of the sixth with a double right-fielder Hunter Pence lost in the sun, he got Matt Kemp to ground out and then struck out Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, both looking.
Pablo Sandoval, who has somehow managed to gain still more weight (they should change his nickname from Panda to Hippo), singled in the seventh with one out, but Kershaw set down Buster Posey and Pence to keep the game scorelss.
It's a flat-out serious pitching duel now, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain each acting like the biggest gun in town.
The season opener remained scoreless in the middle of the sixth. Kershaw had retired the side in order in fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Through the six innings, he had allowed two hits, no walks and struck out five. He'd thrown 65 pitches.
In his five innings, Cain had allowed only three hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.
After four innings, the Dodgers and Giants were still looking for their first run of the season. Of course, starters Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain had a little something to do with it.
After Kershaw retired the Giants in order in the fourth, the Dodgers at least threatened in the bottom of the inning. With one out Adrian Gonzalez singled up the middle and Andre Ethier beat out in infield hit to shortstop Brandon Crawford.
But Cain quickly got Luis Cruz to foul out and A.J. Ellis to pop to first.
After the early would-be action in the bottom of the first, things quieted down in a hurry. Suddenly it was the advertised pitching duel and after three innings the game remained scoreless.
Matt Cain needed only nine pitches to retire the Dodgers in order in the top of the second. Clayton Kershaw set the Giants down in order in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the third, Kershaw gave up just an infield single to Angel Pagan, but catcher A.J. Ellis threw him out attempting to steal. In the bottom of the inning, Cain struck out the side.
Clayton Kershaw got through the top of the first without allowing a run, giving up a single to Pablo Sandoval.
The Dodgers immediately threatened Giants starter Matt Cain. New leadoff hitter Carl Crawford opened with an infield hit and Cain hit Mark Ellis in the back with a pitch.
But in an 11-pitch at-bat, Cain finally struck out Matt Kemp. Crawford then oddly tried to steal third, apparently on his own, and was thrown out by catcher Buster Posey. Ellis did not try to steal second on the play.