DENVER (AP) — Freddie Freeman reached base three times and scored a run in his Dodgers debut, helping Walker Buehler and Los Angeles beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 Friday in a season opener.
Freeman struck out in his first at-bat. He was then hit by a pitch, walked and lined a sharp single before taking a called third strike in the eighth.
The first baseman and 2020 NL MVP signed a six-year, $162 million deal with Los Angeles after leading the Atlanta Braves to a World Series championship last season.
Colorado’s big offseason acquisition, Kris Bryant, had a double and a walk but struck out against Craig Kimbrel with a runner on to end the game. Bryant agreed to a seven-year, $182 million to be a big bat in the top of the order.
With or without Freeman and Bryant, this remains clear: The Dodgers have dominated the series. Los Angeles moved to 49-20 against the Rockies since 2018, which also just so happens to be the last time that Colorado won a home series against the Dodgers.
Buehler pretty much picked up right where he left off in 2021, getting the win in allowing two runs and four hits in five innings while striking out five. The All-Star righty is coming off a 16-4 season where he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting.
Kimbrel, who was traded to the Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox on April 1, allowed an RBI double to Charlie Blackmon before striking out Bryant on a knuckle-curve to earn the save.
Gavin Lux had a two-run single as part of a five-run fourth inning — all with two outs — that turned a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 lead.
That was plenty for Buehler, who ended his day by striking out C.J. Cron on a cutter with two runners on in the fifth.
Denver native Kyle Freeland started out strong before things went sideways in the fourth as he made his second opening-day start. The lefty allowed five runs over 3 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Colorado jumped out to a lead in the second courtesy of contributions from two of their newest players. Randal Grichuk had an RBI grounder and José Iglesias hit a run-scoring single.
The Dodgers entered the season a plus-480 to win the World Series, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Freeman appreciates being a big favorite.
“There’s one way you can embrace it, just go out there and try and win as many ball games as we can and get to October,” Freeman said.
Dodgers: Manager Dave Roberts said LHP Victor González was placed on the injured list after experiencing soreness in his elbow.
Rockies: LHP Lucas Gilbreath and RHP Robert Stephenson were both were recently placed on the COVID-19 injured list.
New Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson delivered fastball right down the middle when he tossed out the first pitch to Bryant, who served as his catcher.
Wilson took the mound wearing a Rockies jersey with No. 3 on the back. His pitch received plenty of cheers from the sellout crowd of 48,627.
Wilson was once an infielder taken by Colorado in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He hit .229 over two minor league seasons, before settling on football.
“It’s just a new uniform. Same game. But I’m excited to get going and get this next chapter of my career going.” — Freeman on making his Dodgers debut.
The Dodgers will throw right-hander Tony Gonsolin on Saturday, while the Rockies counter with All-Star righty Germán Márquez.
By PAT GRAHAM AP Sports Writer
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