SYDNEY — Clayton Kershaw flashed his Cy Young form, Scott Van Slyke homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the Major League Baseball season with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night at Sydney Cricket Ground.
A crowd of about 40,000 watched as MLB played its first regular-season game in Australia.
Opening day was a g’day for the National League West champion Dodgers.
Kershaw, who signed a seven-year, $215 million contract in January, allowed one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Van Slyke hit a two-run homer and also doubled.
The first pitch was delayed because of rain for 14 minutes.
The long trip Down Under took even longer for some Arizona players. A team bus had a flat tire, and the Diamondbacks said “a handful” of players decided to walk the last half-mile to the stadium instead of waiting for a replacement bus.
Kershaw was impressive while making his fourth consecutive Opening Day start. He struck out seven, walked one and was pulled by manager Don Mattingly after throwing his 102nd pitch.
It was quite a turnaround from spring training, when the two-time NL Cy Young winner went 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA in four starts.
“Sometimes you just need the adrenaline of a regular-season game, and I just kind of feel relieved to get this one under my belt,” he said.
“It’s always good to get results, obviously,” he said. “This one counted.”
In his previous Opening Day starts, Kershaw was 2-0 with 19 strikeouts in 19 scoreless innings.
“Kershaw did a good job keeping us in the middle of the diamond,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “He threw a good ballgame against us. We know they’re always going to be close.”
Three relievers kept the Diamondbacks scoreless with hitless work. Chris Perez, a five-time All-Star with Cleveland before joining the Dodgers in the offseason, got the last out in the seventh.
Brian Wilson pitched the eighth, and closer Kenley Jansen got the save. Jansen walked a batter before getting Gerardo Parra to ground out to end the game.
Sydney Cricket Ground was refurbished two weeks ago to create the baseball diamond and an outfield with an 8-foot wall. It was 328 feet down the foul lines and 400 feet to straightaway center.
There were plenty of Dodgers and Diamondbacks uniforms in the crowd, some worn by American visitors and others by Australians who had flown across the country to watch the opener and Sunday’s second game, when another capacity crowd was expected.
They feasted on baseball-style treats like nachos stuffed in batting helmets and Cracker Jack, which is not usually sold in Australia. If you could afford the cost and the calories, a 2-foot-long hot dog sold for $36.
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