Dodgers crush MLB-record 8 HRs in opening rout

LOS ANGELES -- Confirmation bias can be prevalent on days like these, when such a long season gets off to such a resounding start. The Los Angeles Dodgers are well aware. They understand that their performance on Thursday afternoon -- eight home runs, a record on Opening Day, amid a 12-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks -- was far more an outlier than the start of any trend.

But the hopeful among them also consider it a sign of what might come, produced by the change in mindset that carried them through spring training.

"I think last year we spent a lot of time -- not only with you guys [in the media], but within the clubhouse -- talking about what happened in October," Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez said. "This year we didn't really do much of that, if any at all. We were really focused from day one, and focused on this year, and taking care of the business that we have to take care of."

Hernandez, a career-long utility player who has earned a starting spot at second, launched two home runs at Dodger Stadium to begin the 2019 season. So did Joc Pederson. Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Austin Barnes each hit one, providing more than enough cushion for a highly effective Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The eight home runs tied a franchise record for a single game -- also done May 23, 2002, when Shawn Green hit four -- and marked the first time in the live ball era that six players on any one team went deep on Opening Day.

"It's probably not going to always be like that," Bellinger said, "but it's great to start off the season like that."

Last year, coming off losing Game 7 of the World Series to the Houston Astros the prior fall, the Dodgers went scoreless in their first two regular-season contests and finished the month of April with a 12-16 record.

By midsummer, most players had come around to the notion that the team had suffered through the proverbial World Series hangover. They persevered, reaching the final round once more, then lost in five games to a Boston Red Sox team that proved superior. This time, however, they allegedly moved on quicker.

"Having that defeat in 2017 and how we let that carry over into the 2018 spring training -- that fed into the season, where we got off to that slow start," Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill said a couple of days before Opening Day. "This year, coming back -- guys are a lot more pissed. Guys are pissed. Guys want to go out and win."

It was only Game 1, but the encouraging signs went a lot deeper than the eight home runs.

Ryu only started on Opening Day because Hill and Clayton Kershaw are on the injured list and because Walker Buehler wasn't adequately stretched out early enough. Ryu allowed only one run through the first six innings, displaying the enviable depth of the Dodgers' rotation.

Pederson amassed 10 total bases immediately after an agonizingly slow spring. Muncy homered to begin a year when many are questioning his ability to duplicate a breakout performance. Barnes recorded three hits to show he might get back to producing like he did in 2017. Seager went deep -- and nearly went deep again -- to prove he is fully healthy after a season lost to Tommy John surgery.

Seager, also coming off an arthroscopic procedure on his hip, was asked if he took a moment to think about how far he has come.

"I tried not to," he said. "Didn't really want to go back there. Just kind of tried to enjoy the moment and be present."

The Dodgers are trying to become the first team since the 1923 New York Yankees to lose back-to-back World Series and then come back to win it the third year.

They led the National League in both runs and home runs last year, but the season was marked by prodigious highs and lows. The hope is that this year's production is a lot more consistent, both because it's a more effective lineup against lefties and because the team will rely on fewer platoons. A larger hope is getting off to a faster start, after three consecutive seasons with losing records through at least the first three weeks.

"We know that we're a really, really good team in the summer," Hernandez said. "If we can start off the right way, I think down the road it's going to be big for us."