Dodgers crush Giants 8-3 in season-series opener

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Teoscar Hernandez homers again and James Paxton cruises en route to big Dodger win against rival Giants.

LOS ANGELES — The rivalry between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants has always been a heated one. While there were no fireworks between the two Monday night, there was some firepower. 

The Dodgers got a balanced offensive attack led by Teoscar Hernandez to supplement the brilliant pitching of James Paxton and the lockdown bullpen. 

Hernandez crushed another home run and three Dodgers had multiple hits, blindsiding the Giants 8-3 in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium. 

Here are three takeaways:

With the loss of Clayton Kershaw for a majority of the season, Paxton was an ideal candidate to replace him in a variety of ways. He can bring a lefty arm to the rotation, provide above average production as a backend starter and is effective when healthy. 

Paxton went gave up four hits in five innings, striking out five. He did walk five, but he navigated those baserunners with poise.

All he needs to do is give slightly above average starts each time he goes out and on Monday, he gave the Dodgers more than enough. With time, and some magic from the Dodger “pitching lab,” his command could improve over the course of the season as well.  

Hernandez, the Dodgers’ No. 6 hitter in the order, is tied for the National League lead in home runs. —with teammate Mookie Betts. Hernande again blasted a home run deep in the left-field seats, this time as a three-run shot. 

Through his first six games with the club, Hernandez is hitting .250 with a .308 on-base percentage. But already has hit four home runs to go along with six RBI.

As great of a hitter as he is, there were signs of this long ago. Having Hernandez hit behind the top four in the lineup is almost a cheat code if he can keep this production up. 

Amidst the Dodgers’ hot start, Shohei has had a rather slow beginning to his Dodger tenure. Yes, he is hitting .269 after seven games (30 at-bats) with seven strikeouts, but Ohtani does not appear comfortable at the plate.

Ohtani has not hit a home run, his average is down and he has seven strikeouts. Last season, he was hitting .320 after seven games with two homers and six RBIs — though he did have eight strikeouts at that point.

Watch some of the small things in a player’s stance, demeanor and approach, and you’ll see something is off. Shohei is swinging out of his shoes, chasing pitches he normally takes and just missing on some pitches he usually crushes.

This all could be mental — remember the gambling scandal he in which he is ensconced — or maybe it’s too hard to impress the new fanbase. That said, once Ohtani becomes more comfortable, we will see his numbers skyrocket.

The Dodgers will send right-hander Tyler Glasnow to the mound in Tuesday’s 7:10 p.m. game against Giants ace right-hander Logan Webb in what is shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel at Chavez Ravine.