Clayton Kershaw woke up on Thursday morning with the lowest opening day ERA in history. But by the end of the afternoon, that was no longer the case.
Kershaw allowed six runs in his ninth career opening day start, and the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the Colorado Rockies 8-5 at Coors Field in the first game of the 2021 MLB season.
On a surprisingly sunny day in Denver, nothing went right for the defending champions.
Kershaw labored through six innings, Corey Seager committed an error, and Cody Bellinger hit a two-run homer that was changed to an RBI single because of a baserunning blunder.
Entering the game, Kershaw's opening day ERA was 1.05. After allowing six runs (five earned) in just 5.2 innings, it ballooned to 1.73, leaving him out of the top five on the lowest opening day ERA list.
The Dodgers began the season as the overwhelming favorites to win their second straight World Series, but after a bad day at the office, they left the field befuddled and bewildered at their own performance.
Bellinger believed he hit the Dodgers first home run of the season in the top of the third inning. With Justin Turner on first base, Bellinger blasted a deep fly ball to left field that went in and out of the glove of Ramiel Tapia and over the wall for a home run.
However, Turner thought Tapia caught the ball and retreated back to first base. Bellinger passed him on the base paths as he rounded first and trotted towards second. After a lengthy discussion and confusion across the ballpark, Bellinger was called out for passing the lead runner and his home run was overturned to an RBI single. How apropos for April Fool's Day.
As the middle innings rolled around, shadows stretched out across the diamond like hands of a giant clock. That, combined with Turner's baserunning blunder proved to be a bad omen, and a sign of what was to come for the Boys in Blue. The Rockies would take a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the third.
After the Dodgers tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning, Seager saw a routine groundball roll under his glove in what should have been an inning-ending groundout. Instead, the Rockies scored two more runs and led 4-2.
U.S. & World
The Dodgers would tie the game in the top of the sixth, but another baserunning mistake by Seager ended the rally, as he was thrown out trying to go from first to third. Colorado scored two more off Kershaw in the bottom half of the inning and never looked back.
The mistakes proved costly, and only compounded with multiple wild pitches by Jimmy Nelson in the bottom half of the seventh that gave the Rockies an 8-4 advantage. The Dodgers threatened by loading the bases in the top of the ninth, but Mookie Betts lined out to second base to end the game. Los Angeles left 14 men on base in the loss, and are now under .500 for the first time since June 6, 2018.
Many fans flew to Colorado for the opportunity to watch the Dodgers in person for the first time in over a year, and celebrate an Opening Day with their team as defending champions for the first time since 1989. Instead, they left Coors Field disappointed with their celebration ending on a sour note.
Now, Dodger fans will have to wait until the team's home opener on April 9th, when over 18,000 (33 percent capacity) fans are expected to be in attendance to celebrate the 2020 World Series title and ring ceremony.