MLB/ Dodgers debut, part 2: Yoshinobu Yamamoto faces Padres in Seoul

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MLB/ Dodgers debut, part 2: Yoshinobu Yamamoto faces Padres in Seoul REUTERSMarch 21, 202

MLB/ Dodgers debut, part 2: Yoshinobu Yamamoto faces Padres in Seoul

REUTERS

March 21, 2024 at 08:00 JST

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Photo/IllutrationLos Angeles Dodgers’ designated hitter Shohei Ohtani , right, and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, left, walk together prior to the exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 17. (AP Photo)

The Los Angeles Dodgers will look to follow up one successful debut with another on Thursday when they conclude the MLB World Tour Seoul Series 2024 against the San Diego Padres in South Korea.

Signed to a 10-year, $700 million contract in the offseason, Shohei Ohtani had an RBI single to cap a four-run eighth inning in Los Angeles' 5-2 win on Wednesday. The two-time American League MVP and Mookie Betts each had two of the Dodgers' seven hits in the season opener.

Now the spotlight turns to right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who will make his major league debut on Thursday after signing a 12-year, $325 million contract.

Yamamoto, 25, posted a 16-6 record with a 1.21 ERA last season with the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball. The Japanese hurler went 70-29 with a 1.82 ERA in 172 career games over the past six-plus campaigns with Orix.

While those numbers are impressive, the following are not -- albeit admittedly accumulated over just three Cactus League starts: an 8.38 ERA with nine runs, 15 hits and four walks allowed over 9 2/3 innings.

"So my spring numbers were not good. I admit that," Yamamoto said through his interpreter, per The Orange County Register. "But other than that, I found some adjustments. So I'm not really concerned about that."

While Dave Roberts acknowledged Yamamoto struggled with leaving balls out over the plate, the manager is not putting too much stock in the hurler's spring sessions.

"I think once the bell rings there's a heightened focus," Roberts said. "I think getting him built up, keeping him healthy as he's (ready to) open the season was the biggest win, and we'll go from there."

The Padres on Thursday will turn to right-hander Joe Musgrove, who posted a 10-3 record with a 3.05 ERA in 17 starts last season.

While those numbers are fairly solid, consider these: Musgrove is 0-7 with 32 runs and 24 walks allowed in 59 2/3 innings over 11 career starts against the Dodgers.

The Padres will look to salvage the finale of the two-game series after seeing a slim one-run lead in the eighth inning go by the boards. The Dodgers, in fact, took advantage of a freak occurrence as Gavin Lux's routine grounder bounced through the webbing of first baseman Jake Cronenworth's glove. The ball eventually settled in right field, allowing Teoscar Hernandez to score from second base and give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.

"It could have gone through innings before that. It just happened at that situation, and it (stinks)," Cronenworth said. "I thought it was an easy double play."

Xander Bogaerts had an RBI single among his two hits for the Padres, who mustered just four singles against five Dodgers pitchers. The remainder of their lineup went 2-for-26 with six strikeouts to spoil the debut of Mike Shildt as manager.

Bogaerts recorded 12 hits (four doubles, one homer) in 12 games last season versus the Dodgers. Los Angeles, however, won nine of the 13 games between the National League West rivals.

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