By Barbara Harrison
It’s not going to be enough for Phillies fans to endure the pain of an awful 2015 season, which was begun yesterday when the Boston Red Sox blanked the Phils and ace lefty Cole Hamels 8-0.
Phillies legend Jimmy Rollins is evidently going to add to their misery.
For the Dodgers.
In 2008, Rollins homered on opening day for the Phillies, and they went on to win the World Series. Flash forward seven years, and Rollins hit a tie-breaking three-run homer for the Dodgers in their season opener.
”I’ll make sure the guys know that,” the veteran infielder said from his perch atop a table in the clubhouse after the Dodgers’ 6-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Monday.
Standing just 5-foot-7, Rollins went vertical to accommodate a hoard of media after coming up big in the clutch for his new team.
”It was very cool,” Rollins said. ”You get that first ‘W’ out of the way and get that left column rolling.”
Rollins took a curtain call in the dugout for his eighth-inning drive into the lower right-field seats off Shawn Kelley (0-1). Rollins andHowie Kendrick joined the team in the offseason to improve the Dodgers’ infield defense, but their offensive prowess delivered the victory.
Kendrick’s RBI double with two outs in the seventh tied it at 3. Rollins went 2 for 4.
”I’ve seen that too many times when he was in a Phillies uniform. I knew right away it was gone,” new Padre Matt Kemp said. ”He got a pitch that he wanted and put a good swing on it. He’s clutch, man. He’s one of those guys who gets big hits when his team needs them.”
Reigning NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw struck out nine, but the team with baseball’s highest payroll of $270 million trailed twice before Kendrick and Rollins bailed them out.
Kershaw gave up three runs and six hits in six innings. Joel Peralta (1-0) got the victory, and Chris Hatcher earned his first save.
Rollins fouled off some low sliders from Kelley before finding a fastball to his liking.
”He battled,” said Kendrick, who was acquired in a December trade with the Angels. ”He got that one pitch in the honey hole as we call it. I was so happy that he hit it.”
Kemp went 2 for 4 and drove in all three San Diego runs against his former team, which stunned him with last winter’s trade to a division rival. He received a mix of cheers and boos from the sellout crowd of 53,518 – the largest regular-season attendance in baseball since Aug. 30, 2012 – during pregame introductions before being greeted with a standing ovation in his first at-bat, which concluded with an RBI single off Kershaw for a 1-0 lead in the first.
”I like facing the best and he’s the best pitcher in baseball, hands-down,” Kemp said. ”You’ve got to always respect him and grind against a guy like that, and I’m going to battle no matter what.”
Kemp doubled into the left-field corner with two outs in the fifth, scoring Clint Barmes and Derek Norris, who barely beat out an infield single to third to keep the inning alive. Kemp’s clutch swing put the Padres back in front 3-2.
”It was great, just to come back here and get the love that I got,” Kemp said.
The Dodgers got three straight hits off James Shields in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead. Adrian Gonzalez led off with his first homer of the season. Kendrick followed with a triple that center fielder Wil Myers lost in the sun and then scored on Carl Crawford’s double.
Shields allowed two runs and six hits in six innings in his Padres debut, finishing with eight strikeouts and two walks.