Petco Park – San Diego, California
The San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off the first series of the 2021 series in style on Friday night. The teams played a 12-inning thriller that went back and forth with the Dodgers finally edging out the Padres 11-6.
Saturday night saw the second act of this rivalry. There were more tempers flaring between the two teams following Friday’s bench-clearing incident after a hit by pitch. This time, the benches cleared, and expletives were exchanged between Clayton Kershaw and Jurickson Profar after a catcher’s interference call.
Game 2 of the three-game series provided just as much entertainment and excitement, but in a completely different style of a baseball game. It was a pitchers’ duel that saw aces Yu Darvish and Kershaw face off.
With a Padres’ bullpen that has been taxed of late, including eight relievers seeing action last night, it was important for San Diego’s starter to go deep into the game. Darvish did just that, going seven strong innings and giving up a single run.
Both starters brought their A-game, with Kershaw going six innings of shut-out ball, giving up only two hits. The two starters combined to give up three hits and striking out 17 batters. The big difference between the two was the untimely loss of control by Darvish in the top of the 5th inning that led two a pair of walks, including a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Kershaw that led to the first run for Los Angeles.
That would be all the offense the Dodgers would need, though they were provided with an insurance run in the top of the 9th by third baseman Justin Turner hitting his fifth home run of the season. The home run put the Dodgers up 2-0 for good.
“When you’re facing an ace, a lot of times it’s going to be 2-1, 3-2, somewhere in there. We just didn’t get the break,”Jayce Tingler said about facing the Dodgers aces tonight and throughout the series.
The bottom of the 9th brought on more heartbreak for the Padres. With two outs and runners on second and third, Padres’ outfielder Tommy Pham lined a shot to center that looked like a game-tying single in the making.
Gliding to his left, Dodgers’ MVP outfielder Mookie Betts flashed his Gold Glove leather and made a diving catch to rob Pham and the Padres from finally breaking through and tying the game.
Statcast listed the catch as having a 10% success probability, while Betts would travel 52 feet in the matter of seconds to close the game out.
The catch was a good microcosm for the first few games of the series between the two NL West foes, seeing the Padres come close but coming dramatically close.
“We’re about a half-inch from tying this game up and keep going. So, we feel like we’re right there. We just haven’t been able to finish it off quite yet,” Tingler said after the game.
With the final game of the series set for Sunday afternoon, the Dodgers are now riding an eight-game winning streak with a chance to sweep the April series in San Diego.
Meanwhile, the Padres will look to salvage the final game of the home series before moving on to face the Milwaukee Brewers for three games starting Monday. Following the Milwaukee series, the Padres head to face the Dodgers once again, this time in Los Angeles for a four-game series, making Sunday’s final game important for San Diego.