The San Diego Padres dominated their way into the National League Division Series after a thrilling series victory against a 101-win New York Mets team.
The Padres, for the most part, outplayed the Mets in all phases of the game. Pitching, hitting, defense, and base running were all on display for San Diego in the biggest series since 2020.
Their reward for winning the Wild Card series against the Mets was a trip to Los Angeles to face the 111-win Dodgers. A team that has dominated the Padres in the recent past, including winning 14 of 19 games during the 2022 season. To go back even further, in their last 28 games against the Padres, Los Angeles has gone 23-5 with a team ERA of 1.93 while scoring 5.7 runs per game.
One of the most important questions heading into game one had to do with what kind of Mike Clevinger the Padres would get. Clevinger, given the start due to Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove making starts in the Wild Card round.
Clevinger failed to put the Padres into a good spot early on, giving up a pair of runs in the first inning, including a long home run by Trea Turner to left field. Clevinger was never really able to right the ship, allowing five runs (four earned), and the Padres were left in a 5-0 hole after three innings.
“It’s a team that makes you work, and they make you throw a lot of pitches, and you throw pitches in the middle of the plate, they take advantage of it. It’s kind of what I saw early on with him. He at times had a good breaking ball, at times had a good fastball, but they hit his mistakes,” said Padres’ manager Bob Melvin when asked about his reaction to Clevinger’s start.
The bullpen kept the Padres in the game, throwing a total of 5.1 innings of no-hit ball. The bullpen completely shut down the Dodgers’ offense that had been dominant through three innings and changed the momentum of the game.
“They were fantastic. It’s 5-0, and all of a sudden, it’s 5-3, and our guys came in and shut it down,” said Melvin about his team’s bullpen performance.
The Padres cut the game close in the fifth inning, scoring three runs to make the score 5-3. Wil Myers hit a solo home run, and then San Diego scored two more runs on a groundout by Trent Grisham and a sac-fly by Austin Nola.
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Unfortunately, the Padres were not able to push across any more runs, missing out on a few opportunities but also facing above-average relievers in the Los Angeles bullpen.
While the Padres did look a little tense and overwhelmed early on, they turned that around after scoring some runs in the fifth inning. They certainly have their work cut out for them as they face a team in the Dodgers that they have had such little success against of late, now down 0-1 in a best-of-five series.
With Darvish on the mound tomorrow, it will be imperative that the Padres score early and Darvish continues to be his dominant self.
Kevin is a San Diego Native covering the San Diego Padres and their affiliates