LOS ANGELES – Inability to take responsibility for the last nine innings of 2017 will bring a year of unfinished business for Los Angeles Dodgers National League champion.
For the San Francisco Giants, a return to the top ranks of the NL is the goal, but a run on a fourth championship in nine seasons will begin with some downside.
Everyone has something to prove, but if the Dodgers and Giants on the opening day in a Thursday, both agendas will be perfectly clear.
Clayton Kershaw will make his eighth consecutive opening day start for the Dodgers but remains in search of his first World Series title.
Los Angeles came so close last season and dropped at home to the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series.
"Obviously we did not finish what we started last year, and it's practically the same group," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "But I think the focus was still on 201
The Giants are also proud of the group they founded in 2018, third baseman Evan Longoria, outfielder Andrew McCutchen, outfielder Austin Jackson and helper Tony Watson.
However, luck came with spring injuries to ace Madison Bumgarner (broken finger) and Jeff Samardzija (chest deformation). Both pitchers will start the year on the disabled list.
This means that the beginning of Opening Day will fall on left-hander Ty Blach.
"Obviously, it's difficult to lose Bum given the circumstances," said Blach San Francisco Chronicle. "But it's an honor to get that nod and go out and give everything we have."
Blach has only 26 career starts, but he has an ERA of 2.33 against the Dodgers in seven appearances, four of which have begun. He was 8-12 with a 4.78 ERA last season in 24 starts, but lost his spot in the rotation late in the year.
Kershaw sparked again in 2017, going 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA in 2017, but a back injury cost him some time for the second consecutive season. He had a 3.82 ERA in 33 innings in the postseason of 2017, giving up six runs and lasted only 4 2/3 innings of a key game 5 start of the World Series, which ended in a wild 13-12 Astros victory.
But this classic match-up between two-year-old rivals did not need the added incentives of a close call in the World Series, badly injured injuries, rebuilt rosters, or a future Hall of Famer starting another run at its first championship.
The Dodgers and The Giants have played on two shores, and after nearly 2,500 games, the Giants have a lead of 1,239-1,210.
And if the kick-off on Thursday is half as good as the last time these teams met on the first day, it'll be a fun afternoon.
On April 1, 2013, Kershaw struck a shutout at Dodger Stadium and hit a leadoff home run in the eighth inning to unlock a goalless draw. Los Angeles took the lead 4: 0