Clayton Kershaw tries to follow up an absolutely brilliant season debut on Saturday when the Los Angeles Dodgers continue a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium.
Kershaw tossed the ninth shutout of his career on Monday against the San Francisco Giants, limiting them to four hits, while striking out seven. He even helped his own cause at the plate by hitting the first home run of his career.
"It just erupted," Adrian Gonzalez said of the dugout scene following the home run. "It was tough, getting it through the wind, through the traffic. It was huge. We had opportunities but didn't get him run support, so he did it himself.
"To me, he's probably the best pitcher in baseball."
Kershaw became the first pitcher to go deep and throw a shutout on Opening Day since Cleveland's Bob Lemon in 1953. He's also the first Dodgers pitcher to homer in an opener since Don Drysdale in 1965.
"You got a sense on this day, with the first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax and the last pitch by Clayton Kershaw, it's almost like a passing of the torch today," second baseman Mark Ellis. "He's the most special player I've ever played with."
The left-hander has faced the Pirates six times and is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA.
Los Angeles got another well pitched game from their newest starter in Friday's opener, as Zack Greinke impressed with 6 1/3 shutout innings and the Dodgers rolled to a 3-0 win.
Greinke (1-0) signed a six-year, $147 million dollar contract this past offseason with Los Angeles and lived up to expectations in his first start, allowing just two hits and striking out six.
"First impressions are important. But I'm just trying to get one out at a time," Greinke said. "That's kind of what I do, and hopefully everything takes care of itself."
Andre Ethier hit a solo home run while Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez each had RBI doubles for the Dodgers, who had dropped two of three to San Francisco in their season opening series.
"It was a great win," said Kemp. "Greinke came out in his first start and did a great job."
Brandon League pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his first save of the season.
The Pirates, who had just six runs and 13 hits in their opening series against the Cubs, managed just two hits on Friday.
"I'm encouraged by our pitching and our defense. We had good at-bats tonight, but had nothing to show for it," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "We're 1-3, but we're in games."
Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones each had a single and Jonathan Sanchez (0-1) was saddled with the loss after surrendering all three runs on six hits in five-plus innings of work.
Pittsburgh righty A.J. Burnett was not as fortunate as Kershaw on Opening Day, as he surrendered three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Burnett is 4-3 with a 3.92 ERA in nine starts versus the Dodgers.
The Pirates lost six of seven to the Dodgers last season, getting swept in a three-game set in Los Angeles from April 10-12. The Dodgers have won seven straight and 15 of their last 17 as the host in this series.