Monday’s game, the third of spring training for the Dodgers, began at 1:06 p.m. The Dodgers’ second batter stepped into the batter’s box 18 minutes later.
That’s because the Dodgers’ first batter, Dee Gordon, led off the bottom of the first inning with a 17-pitch at-bat against Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva. (Gordon struck out looking.) In the top of the first, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley allowed hits to the first four batters he faced and surrendered two runs. It had the makings of a long game from the outset and it was: Three hours, 25 minutes total.
The afternoon was probably more memorable if Vin Scully was narrating it — which he was, if you had a radio Monday.
Some less colorful takeaways:
• Don Mattingly praised Gordon’s day at the plate. His long at-bat clearly took something out of Villanueva, a veteran of 55 major-league games (mostly out of the ‘pen). The right-hander wasted few pitches in walking the next two batters, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr. Gordon himself drew a walk in the third inning and went from first to third on a single by Jerry Hairston Jr. Gordon nearly scored on Juan Uribe’s groundout. Uribe, however, was ruled out in a close play at first base, an inning-ending double play.
• Considering they had so much on the line, Billingsley (trying to avoid Tommy John surgery) and Chris Capuano (trying to avoid being sent to the bullpen) were rightfully the focus of attention. Here was the more encouraging portion of the box score for the Dodgers:
|Rodriguez, P (W, 1-0)||0.00||1.0||2||0||0||0||1||0||5|
|Johnson, B (S, 1)||0.00||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||3|
• Cubs reliever Dontrelle Willis’ latest comeback attempt was greeted, oddly, with a small chorus of boos as he entered the field Monday. It ended in silence and a shoulder injury.
• Juan Uribe’s three innings at first base weren’t bad. His brand-new first baseman’s glove, which he purchased prior to spring training, seemed plenty broken in. Not quite as fine-tuned were his instincts on a ground ball to his right. “That’s the toughest play, the in-betweener between first and second. … He probably went a little too far,” Don Mattingly said. The experiment to see if Uribe can back up Adrian Gonzalez at first base will continue.
• The box score is here.