We can say this with confidence: Dodgers-Padres did not disappoint.
It was the most anticipated matchup in baseball this season, and it has grown so much in the past six months that there was no way those games were between the two Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres could possibly live up to the hype.
And then the first matchup far exceeded expectations.
Friday night’s matchup, the first of 19 regular season games between two teams separated by 120 miles, felt like an April postseason game where every pitch matters and every move is scrutinized. The Padres got permission to send more fans to Petco Park to jump into this weekend series, and a crowd of 15,250 delivered a soundtrack of thunderbolts and “Beat LA!” Chants that created a palpable intensity for the duration of a heated back-and-forth matchup that went into additional innings and lasted almost five hours.
There were stunning home runs and head scratching mistakes. Surprising contributions and mystifying decisions. A fan runs onto the field, a brawl and 17 different pitchers. Above all, there were dramatic swings, especially in the eighth and ninth, where the Padres tied the game, the Dodgers took back the lead, and the Padres tied it again while falling out to the last out.
The Dodgers eventually retired with a twelfth inning that gave them one 11-6 win and seven wins in a row. Their first runs of this half-inning were at a lead-off home they run Corey Seager. Your last one? A fly ball over David PriceReliever who was caught by became a starter Joe Musgrove – who threw a no-hitter seven days earlier – and was against it Jake Cronenworth, the second baseman who was deployed in emergency aid.
“It was like a playoff game,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “It was really.”
Yes, game 1 was exactly what we wanted.
We have also learned the following:
Not just any series: Players hardly make too much of a regular season streak, regardless of opponent, because the season is too long to put too much into a game. It is not healthy. And so Seager’s mild answer to the question about the Padres: “I think it’s just another division series. All division series are important.” – was predictable.
Then it was the fourth inning, and Padres manager Jayce Tingler told his No. 7 batsman to hit two runners and pinch them in 9th place. Then it was the seventh inning, and both teams had teamed up for five mistakes. Then it was the eighth inning of a tie and Dodger’s manager Dave Roberts asked Jansen for four outs. Then it was the 10th and Dodger’s Reliever Dennis Santana was absolutely ballistic after coming out of a jam.
Machado through clenched teeth: Manny Machado, whose signature two years ago ushered in a new era in San Diego, did everything for the Padres. He scored two singles, stole two bases, played a fabulous game on a tough grounder, and made it big in ninth. Machado took a six-pitch walk with two outs and no one against Dodger’s reliever Kenley Jansenwhose stuff looked electrifying again and who apparently had a backache as he jogged to the first base. Then he stole second place, moved up to third place in a wild field that wasn’t too far off, and met Eric Hosmer’s single.
Padre manager Jayce Tingler said Machado experienced lower back tightness during the bat, then some shoulder discomfort after his stolen base. But he was determined to play it through. “He didn’t want me to get him out,” said Tingler.
The Dodgers’ Absurd Depth: On a night the Dodgers were without three normal players – including Cody Bellinger, Who was diagnosed with a hair breakage in his left fibula – it was Luke Raley and Zach McKinstry who stepped forward. Raley smashed his first career home run in the fifth, a 434-foot shot that linked the game at 1. McKinstry, who started with an OPS of 0.974, drove in the eighth and twelfth runs.
The 2016 draft is proving to be epic for the Dodgers. Will Smith is already one of the game’s best catchers. Gavin Lux is a budding superstar. Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin were two of the best rookies in the game last season. McKinstry was a revelation. And Raley might be on the way.
Tatis’ up and down return: Many questions related to the health of Fernando Tatis Jr..s left shoulder goes into this series. He had suffered a subluxation just 10 days earlier, his third problem with this shoulder in 23 days. And there were concerns about whether he could make it for an entire season and whether that could affect him as a player, especially with his mechanics on the plate.
Fernando Tatis Jr. hits a solo home run at the end of the fifth to put San Diego in the lead.
His return caused both concern and optimism. The optimism came to immediate midfield on a 410-foot home run Walker BuehlerTatis saw both hands on the bat in his follow-through, an adjustment the padres would love to see to preserve his shoulder. The concern came defensive, with two mistakes – a bad throw on the second in the sixth and a botched double-cue ball in the twelfth – to give him seven in six games.
Unbeatable: Dodger’s Reliever Corey gag and Padre’s mug Mark Melancon combined for a hit, a walk, 12 strikeouts, and zero runs in 11 1/3 innings in that series, then both were hit in the late innings.
If Padres is right outfield Wil Myers came at the end of eighth place to hit, with an in and an out and the Padres two runs behind. The opponents were 0: 12 with six rashes in bats, which ended with Knebel’s curveball. But Myers brought one over the plate and dropped one in the center right Jurickson Profar got one on the outer half and put a game-winning double down the left field line.
Dodger’s third baseman Justin Turner When he ended up in ninth place, the opponents were 1:13 when they scored two goals against Melancon. But Turner, who stated during spring training that Dodgers-Padres games would feel like “19 World Series games”, brought a 2-2 cutter over the plate and put it in midfield, giving the Dodgers second lead the night received.
“That was a very good game,” said Price, who pitched the last two innings and worked out of a tough jam in the 11th. “Neither team wanted to lose this game.”