Chad Billingsley had to be getting tired of the spring training Q & A sessions.
If the question wasn't about his slight mechanical adjustment, it was about his results - a natural train of thought, given his 5.91 Cactus League earned-run average and that slight leg-kick habit he was trying to shake.
Friday, the only questions were about what was working, not what wasn't.
Billingsley fell two outs shy of his third career shutout in the Dodgers' 6-0 victory, settling for a three-hit, 11-strikeout, one-walk gem over 8 1/3 innings.
"I was just getting ahead with my fastball and I was able to mix in all of my off-speed pitches," Billingsley said.
What changed from spring training?
"Nothing," the right-hander said.
Maybe the adjustment wasn't a big one, but Billingsley found something that worked in his first start of the season. Maybe the leg kick was gone. Maybe it was the fact that the Dodgers' No. 2 starter threw his slider to one side of the plate and his cut fastball to another; both breaking pitches served as a point of criticism during the spring.
Or maybe it was the opponent - a San Diego team playing without injured cleanup hitter Carlos Quentin, a team that mustered only five hits on opening night against Clayton Kershaw and five relievers. In 25 career starts prior to Friday, Billingsley went 11-8 with a 2.79 earned-run average against the Padres, limiting batters to a .223 average.
"There's teams that have my number," Billingsley said. "I can't explain why."
On Friday, the Padres mustered only three hits against Billingsley and reliever Jamey Wright, who needed only four pitches to record the final two outs. Billingsley threw 70 of his 108 pitches for strikes and retired 16 straight batters until the Padres' Cameron Maybin singled with one out in the ninth inning.
Billingsley strikes out 11 on way to win
L.A. Daily News | Apr 7