There's nothing like a good ol' rivalry to get your season started, no? There's nothing like coming off a World Series win so your game is televised on ESPN on opening day, no? Sure, there's some other games on there today, but you can't beat that 5:00 p.m. slot, no sir. So ignore for a minute the probably rustiness and potentially mistake-filled action, what we're getting is Tim Lincecum versus Clayton Kershaw. It doesn't get much better than that.
So we're starting off on the road, without Brian Wilson, now officially on the disabled list to start the season, and with Brandon Belt, a surprising, but then again not-so-surprising addition to the 25-man roster making his major league debut. Belt will be at first base, while Aubrey Huff shifts to right field.
We can sit and search for storylines and pull up stats, but there's times where you just don't need those things, and that's when the Giants take on the Dodgers. We can note how the Dodgers will have Juan Uribe, and look at whether or not he'll make a difference, but the reality is that when these two teams come together, Uribe can go 4-for-4 with two homeruns, or he can go 0-for-4 and just look silly. We'll analyze what Brian Wilson's absence means for the Giants, but we won't know how that will truly have an effect on the team until they're in a scenario that requires a closer.
We can cover how the Dodgers were 8-10 against the Giants last year, keeping things relatively close. This is quite literally a whole 'nother ballgame at this point. One has to wonder if the Dodgers will be playing for more than just a day one win, perhaps they're looking to come out and make a statement after hearing for months and months about the Giants and their World Series title. Maybe Kershaw makes a statement and pitches the best game of his life. Maybe they get blown out entirely with the mounting pressure of being in their division rival's shadow. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.
But let's get to the nitty-gritty. Lincecum went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA. That's a down year for Timmy, but he turned it on in the playoffs and later in the season, presumably getting back his mojo. Kershaw was 13-10 with a stellar 2.91 ERA to his name. Kershaw is good against the Giants and always has been, and is looking to make his 2011 a breakout year, whereas Linececum just looks ready to shake all the bad vibes off his early 2010 (as if a World Series win wasn't enough) with a stellar beginning to 2011.
Sporting a 1.46 ERA against the Giants in his five starts, Kershaw is looking to outlast the Giants' two-time Cy Young award winner, who has a 3.43 ERA in nine starts against Los Angeles. It is very much pitching ace vs. pitching ace, and Wilson's injury may come into play when we get down to bullpen vs bullpen, which is where this game is likely headed.