LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers rolled out their new big-name signings on Monday but it was their ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw who stole the show in Monday's Opening Day game with the San Francisco Giants.
The 25-year-old ace leftie tossed a complete-game shutout and smacked his first career home run as the Dodgers registered a 4-0 win over the defending World Series champions.
On a day when Hall of Fame Dodgers hurler Sandy Koufax threw out the first pitch, Kershaw enhanced his position as the current golden arm of the franchise with a stellar performance.
"You got a sense on this day, with the first pitch thrown by Sandy Koufax and the last pitch by Clayton Kershaw, it's almost like a passing of the torch today," Los Angeles catcher A.J. Ellis told reporters.
"He's the most special player I've ever played with."
The Dodgers have other special players, too, and the season-opener was a chance to show off the team's $215 million dollar payroll, not to mention their newly renovated stadium.
Los Angeles has made waves with big-time roster moves, signing starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract in December and also adding young Korean left-hander Ryu Hyun-jin.
Those acquisitions came on the heels of Los Angeles making blockbuster trades last season to acquire the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford.
But the Dodgers' most important piece remains Kershaw, who was drafted by the team in 2006 and won the Cy Young Award in 2011. He showed why is so valuable with an outing that included seven strikeouts and just four allowed hits.
In the eighth inning, he blasted a solo home run off reliever George Kontos over the center-field wall to break up a scoreless game.
"He's an athlete," said San Francisco's Buster Posey, last year's National League Most Valuable Player.
"The ball ran back to the middle a little bit, and he was all in."
With their expensive roster, the Dodgers are looming as the biggest threat to the Giants in the NL West but Kershaw wasn't getting carried away.
"It means we're 1-0 and we've got 161 more (games)," Kershaw said. "Can't get too excited but it's a good way to start, for sure."
(Editing by Julian Linden)