The San Diego Padres came into this week feeling like contenders after winning back-to-back elimination games against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Series, but their true test was against the goliath of a Los Angeles Dodgers team. Los Angeles has been just as dominant in 2020 as pretty much everyone expected coming into the season, and their sweep of the Brewers came as little surprise. So, how did this showdown of division rivals turn out? Good for one team and ugly for another.
It felt like waiting for a scale to tip in one direction or another. Each team had key starters battling injuries but somehow kept the game scoreless.
San Diego was hoping that RHP Mike Clevinger could eat some innings, but he had to be taken out after recording just three outs because of a huge dip in velocity.
Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler, who was dealing with blister ailments, walked the bases loaded in the second. He got out of it by whipping 99 mph bullets past INF Jurickson Profar and OF Trent Grisham.
For awhile, it seemed like the momentum was in San Diego’s direction, as C Austin Nola tagged Buehler for a two-out RBI single in the fourth. However, a potential inning-ending error by ROY candidate and Padres 2B, Jake Cronenworth, tied the game in the fifth.
The Dodgers simply out-pitched the Friars for the rest of the game. The LA offense had a huge sixth inning to make the game 5-1, which would remain unchanged for the remainder of the evening.
No matter what team you were rooting for, Game 2 was a nail-biter in every sense of the phrase. LHP Clayton Kershaw took the bump for Los Angeles but wasn’t quite as lights-out or spectacular as his 13 strikeout gem against Milwaukee last week.
The Padres struck first for the second game in a row with a OF Wil Myers double in the second to give them an early 1-0 lead. But, of course, the LA offense showed up to score four runs off RHP Zach Davies, who looked overmatched against an admittedly stacked lineup.
Kershaw would eventually exit after the sixth, but not before giving up back-to-back bombs to 3B Manny Machado and 1B Eric Hosmer.
OF Cody Bellinger was the MVP in this one as he both hit a home run and robbed what would have been a go-ahead one by SS Fernando Tatis Jr. with one of the best catches of the entire 2020 MLB season. Bellinger’s grab kept it a one run game for a Dodgers bullpen.
RHP Kenley Jansen nearly blew a 6-3 lead in the ninth by letting RHP Joe Kelly inherit what would become a 6-5 game with the tying run on. Kelly walked the bases loaded before getting Hosmer to roll over to seal LA’s second win by the skin of their teeth.
It was a great run for the Padres, but they were simply overpowered by a stacked Dodgers roster, who ultimately swept the Padres to advance to the NLCS for the fourth time in five seasos.
The Padres were hoping to force a fourth game behind young starter LHP Adrian Morejón, but he quickly ran into trouble and gave way to a 1-0 LA lead in the secondnd inning.
For a moment, the Padres had something cooking against RHP Dustin May, which lead to a brief 2-1 San Diego lead and the entrance of LHP Julio Urias. But, just like the other games, the Dodgers bit right back even harder. An explosive five-run third inning capped off Morejon’s night.
3B Justin Turner broke the Dodgers all time postseason hits record with his 64th, and C Will Smith went 5- 6 to also set a Dodgers record. Pretty much every other player would also tack on an RBI at some point or another to make a San Diego comeback more and more improbable by the inning. It didn’t even end up being close. The final line was 12-3 Dodgers.
Well, they do say that pitching wins championships, and that seemed to be the case here. The Dodgers used a total of 11 pitchers for the entire series and the Padres used 11 for Game 3 alone.
The Padres are such a fun baseball team, but their pitching staff for this series lacked experience. Players like RHP Dinelson Lamet, Clevinger and RHP Kirby Yates were all off the table due to injury, so they were forced to try guys like LHP Ryan Weathers. Despite being a great prospect, Weathers never pitched above A-ball before NLDS Game 2.
Pit that against one of the best offenses in the league, and you have a clean sweep. The Dodgers will be happy to move past a young San Diego team that will surely put up tougher fights in the coming years. For now, the Dodgers are still the kings of the West. They will welcome the Braves into Arlington for the NLCS Monday.
I am a 22 year old writer and ultra-fan of baseball currently residing in Long Beach, California. I became a published author earlier in 2020 on Amazon and ran my own personal blog at dreamden.org. I’m majoring in communication studies and English and plan to graduate later this year. I’m a lover of art in all forms but especially the art of a strike zone.