Will Aussie fans dig MLB pitch-off in Sydney?

BEN HORNE
Last updated 14:20 14/03/2014
Clayton Kershaw
Getty Images
PITCHING DUEL: Clayton Kershaw will start on the mound for the LA Dodgers as they start their Major League Baseball season against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the SCG.

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There's an old baseball saying, 'chicks dig the long ball'.

Translation: fans have an insatiable thirst for home runs.

And for Australian punters who know little about America's favourite past-time, the appetite for witnessing a ball sail out of the park will be amplified even more when the MLB opens in historic fashion at the Sydney Cricket Ground next week.

But the truth is, sluggers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks are going to have their work cut out if they're to smash the cover off anything on March 22 and 23.

The reason being - the Dodgers and Diamondbacks have dished-up an opening-night pitching battle for the ages.

In the blue corner, the Dodgers' US$238 million ace Clayton Kershaw - highest paid pitcher in the game.

And in the red corner, Diamondbacks' young-gun All Star Patrick Corbin.

They're two left-armed power pitchers capable of throwing a fast ball quicker than Mitchell Johnson can send down a thunderbolt.

But will Australian fans dig the pitch-off, more than a slug-fest?

Arizona veteran reliever JJ Putz thinks so.

"It's going to be electric. The fans of Australia couldn't have asked for a better pitching match-up to start Major League Baseball in the country," Putz told AAP.

"Those two guys have some of the best stuff in the game. I'm not trying to sell tickets but if you're a baseball fan these are the guys you want to see go toe-to-toe.

"People enjoy the good elite starting pitchers facing off against each other. But at the same time, the saying is, chicks dig the long ball.

"There's something to be said about the home runs. Both of our clubs have a lot of power (the Diamondbacks led by Mark Trumbo and the Dodgers by Yasiel Puig) and this first game could be a 1-0 game or it could be 6-5.

"That's the beauty of opening day, you never know what you're going to get."

Putz, a college room-mate of NFL star Tom Brady, has carved out a long career as a quality MLB reliever and closer.

At 37-years-of-age, Putz knows when a pitcher is a class above, and he's putting Kershaw and Corbin in that category.

"I don't think anybody enjoys facing Clayton Kershaw. He is who he is. He's been there, done that and considered the elite of elite in power pitching," he said.

"But to be the best you've got to beat the best and you've got a guy right behind him in Patrick Corbin who is really starting to make a name for himself.

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"Patrick's a young, athletic kid. He's got an electric arm.

"I don't think anyone is too worried about the pressure getting to him on day one."

- AAP

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