Chavez Ravine- Los Angeles, California
It’s common to say, “this is the most important game of the year” when playing a division rival. That phrase will likely come up a few more times this season, but this game really feels like that for the San Diego Padres.
They are in the final series of the scheduled 17 straight game stretch. In this stretch, they have swept the Texas Rangers, tied the Pittsburgh Pirates series, lost in the first Los Angeles Dodgers series, and were just swept by the Milwaukee Brewers. This provided a taste of what a long October run could feel like. The Brewers are playoff hopefuls and feature two early Cy Young contenders. Then the Dodgers are the defending champions and the favorite to return to the World Series.
So, needless to say, the results have been disappointing. Adrian Morejon is out for the season with Tommy John surgery. Dinelson Lamet went right back to the IL after only two innings pitched. Wil Myers, Trent Grisham, Manny Machado, and Fernando Tatis Jr. have all dealt with minor injuries.
This game represents a chance to take an early lead in the series and to show that the team can bounce back from some rough play. That’s what makes this game so important, hope for the rest of the season. With that, Ryan Weathers, a symbol of the Padres’ strong farm system, would take the bump.
Weathers notably made his big-league debut against the Dodgers in the playoffs last year. Then last week, he made his first career start against them. In that outing, he only allowed one hit in his 3.2 innings pitched.
He was able to build off his last start to hold the Dodgers scoreless. In fact, he only allowed one hit in his 5.2 innings pitched, and that came off opposing pitcher Walker Buehler. Aside from the hit, he only allowed two other base runners and struck out six batters. Looking at his stats, he had a great game. When watching the game, he looked shaky at times. In the first three innings, he allowed the first batter of each inning to reach but he kept his composure and worked from behind. This is outing is a good showcase that baseball is a results-based business, and at the end of the day, that is what mattered.
“A lot of things impressed me about that outing today. The most important thing is as he is gaining this experience, he has to be gaining confidence. He’s got a lot of confidence in all his pitches, the way he is able to attack and mix his pitches.”, Jayce Tingler said about his young pitcher.
The bats had some life to give Weathers a couple of runs to work with. In the 4th inning, Tatis singled and stole second. Later in the inning, Machado singled to score him. Then in the 6th inning, Grisham hit a rocket home run to right field. Both Machado and Hosmer tried to follow it up with a home run, but both balls couldn’t get past the warning track.
It was lined up perfect for Weathers to earn his second career win. Then in the 7th Emilio Pagan, who had only allowed one to run all year, came into pitch and heartbreak happened. A.J. Pollock and Sheldon Nuese hit back-to-back home runs. The game was tied by two players who hadn’t hit a home run all season. This seemed like the turning point of the game. Even the other outs in the inning were well-hit balls.
In the top of the 8th, the Padres scrapped across a run to take back the lead. Jurickson Profar and Victor Caratini have each averaged over four pitches per plate appearance this season and they each went off script with first-pitch singles to get runners on the corners. While Tatis would ground into a double play, Profar scored to get the vital run.
Then the biggest play of the game and potentially the biggest play of the young season happened. The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out and Neuse scorched a 105 mph grounder toward Jake Cronenworth. Cronenworth, Tatis, and Hosmer pulled away with a double play to get out of the inning.
JAKE TO NANDO TO HOZ!!!
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) April 23, 2021
This is the type of play that is necessary to beat the Dodgers. The stakes were high, the exit velocity was high, and the impact of the play is HUGE. This is the Padres playing at 100% and narrowly beating the Dodgers.
After the game, Jayce Tingler was asked if that was the biggest double play he has seen. “It is. To describe what the dugout was, it was just electric. We’ve been apart of some big innings or a big home run. That play defensively felt like a playoff home run and a critical moment with your life on the line”, Tingler said about the play.
Mark Melancon still had to lock it down in the 9th. The Dodgers are so deep that even their 8-9-1 hitters are a threat. He struck out the side using just 12 pitches.
This hopefully is the turning point that the Padres needed. They ended their losing streak, they beat their rival, and they played really good baseball. Aces Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw will battle Friday night.