MLB Regular Season opens down under, Mate! 22 Mar 14

SYDNEY (AP) — The most quintessential of American sports took top billing at the symbolic home of Australia’s national game as the 2014 Major League Baseball season began Down Under at Sydney Cricket Ground.

At a venue steeped in the history of another bat and ball game, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks opened the season Saturday night before a sellout crowd of around 40,000.

The two-game series marks the first regular-season games in Australia. Previous MLB season openers were held in Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

The gameday menu was popular, and expensive. It cost $36 for a 2-foot-long hot dog. There also were ice-cream sundaes served in batting helmets.

Another novelty for the crowd involved balls that got hit into the stands. Fans could keep them, unlike cricket where the ball is returned to play.

As far as the actual game…

Clayton Kershaw flashed his Cy Young form, Scott Van Slyke homered and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the Major League Baseball season with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night at Sydney Cricket Ground.

A crowd of about 40,000 watched as MLB played its first regular-season game in Australia.

Opening day was a g’day for the NL West champion Dodgers.

Kershaw, who signed a seven-year, $215 million contract in January, allowed one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. Van Slyke hit a two-run homer and also doubled.

The first pitch was delayed because of rain for 14 minutes.

The long trip Down Under took even longer for some Arizona players. A team bus had a flat tire, and the Diamondbacks said “a handful” of players decided to walk the last half-mile to the stadium instead of waiting for a replacement bus.