Opening Day across Major League Baseball comes with a palpable level of excitement as for most teams it’s a new beginning with the idea of this season being better than the last. That particularly holds true for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who twice have come up short to the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason in the last two years.
There was added excitement Monday as it not only signaled the official debuts for Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins and other new faces on the Dodgers, but also the return of Matt Kemp to Dodger Stadium with the new-look San Diego Padres. Prior to the game, Kemp said he wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would receive and added it was something he cared about.
Kemp primarily received cheers during pregame introductions and got a standing ovation in his first at-bat. He hit an RBI single off Clayton Kershaw in the first inning and hit a two-run double in the fifth that gave the Padres a 3-2 lead.
Following the game, Kemp expressed appreciation for the treatment he received, via Corey Brock of MLB.com:
It was exciting, overwhelming,” Kemp said afterward. “It was great to come back here to get the love that I got. It was a little emotional. But I felt good.”
While the Padres came up short against the Dodgers on Opening Day, they capitalized on multiple Dodger errors and used a four-run ninth inning to bounce back with a win on a wet Tuesday night at Chavez Ravine.
Kemp wasn’t part of the big ninth inning, but he singled off Zack Greinke in the first inning and came around to score on Justin Upton’s RBI triple that got past Carl Crawford on an ill-advised sliding catch attempt.
Kemp also drew a two-out walk in the sixth and stole second base, his first of the season. Through the first two games of the series, he’s batting .375/.444/.500 with three RBIs.
The former Dodger’s only miscue of sorts came in the seventh inning of Monday’s game as Kemp slightly misplayed a ball hit to his right that allowed Howie Kendrick to stretch an RBI single into a double.
Dodgers Utility Man Justin Turner