SYDNEY -- After a long fall, winter and spring of waiting, the time has come. The Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball and fans across the globe can all celebrate together, because the season is finally here.
The quest for the 110th World Series opens on Saturday in Sydney, where the National League West rival D-backs and Dodgers lift the lid on the Opening Series at the hallowed Sydney Cricket Ground. A sellout crowd of close to 45,000 is expected Down Under for the game, which is slated to begin at 7 p.m. Sydney time, or 4 a.m. ET and 1 a.m. PT/MST if you're scoring at home back in the States.
The pitching matchup pits two left-handers against one another, with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw getting the ball for Los Angeles. Arizona's Wade Miley was pressed into duty when the D-backs got the unfortunate news prior to their 15-hour flight to Australia that staff ace Patrick Corbin had suffered an elbow injury that will likely knock him out for the year.
The Dodgers want to take the next step after falling two wins short of the World Series in a six-game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series. The D-backs want to return to contention after two seasons of .500 ball.
It all starts when Miley pitches to Dodgers leadoff hitter, Yasiel Puig, and it's safe to say that both teams are glad that these games count. Puig, who opens the 2014 season in the Dodgers' starting lineup, played his first 40 games of 2013 playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
For the D-backs, it will be a slightly different group. Arizona traded for slugger Mark Trumbo in the offseason, signed veteran starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo and added closer Addison Reed.
The loss of Corbin will hurt, but the team has young alternatives in Randall Delgado and possibly Archie Bradley, a 21-year-old top prospect who could be with the D-backs at some point in 2014.
The Dodgers weren't sitting home for much of last October, but they weren't around for the ultimate seven-game series. They have plans on getting over that hump this time around, and they've attempted to fortify their roster in an attempt to do so, bringing in veteran right-hander Dan Haren and lefty Paul Maholm for starting depth, adding Chris Perez to a deep bullpen, and signing veteran utility man Chone Figgins while returning the main nucleus of their division-winning club.
"We feel like we're tough," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We were down 10 games in the division and ended up winning by 10 or 11. To me, we went through a lot. We're not afraid of the field."
And now the Dodgers and D-backs meet on this field, in the middle of an iconic cricket stadium halfway around the world. They've brushed aside the jet lag, gotten used to the novelty of a foreign country and a converted cricket pitch, and they're ready.
--- Source: MLB.com
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt