The Padres have had a rough season, although not as rough as some predicted. They are one win away from clinching a non-100 loss season. FiveThirtyEight.com has the Friars finishing 72-90, better than last season. A lot can still happen as the Padres still have six games against Arizona, seven against Colorado and still three more against the L.A. Dodgers.
However, the Padres did not seem too intimidated by perhaps the greatest regular season team in this decade over the weekend. The Padres won the four-game set with the hated Dodgers, three games to one. The Padres are 6-10 against the Dodgers this season. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks have more wins this season against the best team in baseball.
I have seen some on social media exclaim things like “This isn’t how you tank!” or “the Padres can’t even tank right!” Why are we upset that the Padres beat their hated rivals over the weekend? One of the things I hate most about the Dodgers is their fans filling up Petco Park and being obnoxious, taking over San Diego’s beautiful ballpark with their dumb chants and L.A. attitude.
The Friars stuck it to ’em this weekend, outscoring the Dodgers 19-12. One of the most encouraging things that happened was during the Padres’ only loss to L.A. Clayton Kershaw made his return from injury in front of 36,767 (let’s be honest, it was probably 2:1 Dodger fans, maybe more). It was a big night. However, Padres starting pitcher Dinelson Lamet went toe-to-toe with the best lefty starting pitcher since Randy Johnson and didn’t back down. Kershaw finished the night with six shutout innings and seven strikeouts. Lamet also went six innings. He struck out 10, while only allowing one run. Lamet had electric stuff.
The double-header on Saturday was thrilling for Padres fans. San Diego swept the twin bill. The Friars built a 5-3 lead in Game 1, heading into the ninth. All hope seemed lost for San Diego after Justin Turner took Brad Hand deep to tie the game. The momentum shifted and the L.A. crowd was as loud and obnoxious as ever. Pedro Baez came in for the bottom of the ninth, whom Yangervis Solarte took deep on an 0-1 count to walk it off for San Diego.
The Padres rode that momentum into the nightcap. Erick Aybar came back from injury to have a fantastic game, going 3-4 with a double. Carlos Asuaje took Yu Darvish deep. The Friars ran Darvish out of the game after three innings with five earned runs. The Padres won 7-2.
On Sunday, many, including myself, assumed the Padres would come back to earth and earn a split in a solid series against L.A. The Padres had other ideas. Jose Pirela has been on fire. He has become a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat. He launched his 10th home run of the season Sunday, against Alex Wood. This was sweet revenge, as Wood and Pirela are not exactly buddies. The Friars tagged Wood with four earned runs on two homers. Brad Hand earned his 15th save as the Padres won 6-4.
— Nick L. (@NickLee51) September 3, 2017
The fact that the young Padres are not only competing, but defeating the best team in baseball that also happens to be the biggest division rival, is a really good sign. You want guys like Manuel Margot, Austin Hedges, Dinelson Lamet, and Asuaje getting used to beating the boys from up north. The Dodgers are not going away any time soon with all this young talent. The Padres need to square their shoulders and take the Dodgers head on for the next five-plus years for an N.L. West division title.
Winning three of four when you are supposed to roll over is a good start.