While it remains to be seen exactly how much animosity carries over into the middle game of the weekend series, all eyes will be on Dave Roberts of the Dodgers and Andy Green of the Padres after a bench-clearing skirmish saw both skippers ejected early in Friday night’s opener.
Initially, warnings to both sides were passed out by home plate umpire Greg Gibson, when the normally calm Los Angeles starting pitcher Alex Wood threatened to “drill” San Diego outfielder Jose Pirela. Wood believed Pirela was attempting to steal signs from catcher Austin Barnes a few pitches after hitting a lead-off double to begin the bottom of the first inning.
However, hoping to receive a better explanation of what actually transpired, both managers stepped on the field to talk with Gibson during the interval between the first and second frames, and the misunderstanding escalated when Green apparently made specific comments directed towards Wood. Both benches and their respective bullpens would eventually empty onto the Diamond at Petco Park.
“When you start making pointed comments about our player, then I think I’ve got a problem with it,” Roberts said after the game. “That’s all I wanted to convey to Andy.”
At the time of the skirmish, the Dodgers already controlled the contest thanks to a grand slam off the bat of Barnes in the top of the first inning. The Los Angeles catcher would also add another long ball in the sixth frame, this time of the two-run variety, to put the game out of reach for the Dodgers. Wood improved his record to 9-0 in the 10-4 victory, striking out eight batters and lowering his ERA to 1.83, after allowing only one earned run, two hits and three walks after six full innings of work.
Lefty Clayton Richard took the loss for the Padres.
In a post-game press conference, Green stood by his sentiments expressed on the field, saying that despite his squad’s current record and standing, he intends to develop his young squad the proper way, utilizing respectable leadership skills and principled examples. Roberts, on the other hand, said he probably could have handled the quarrel with a cooler head.
“I probably got too emotional,” Roberts said. “But I think we all care about our players. But when things are said about a certain player, or your player, then I think you get a little bit more sensitive to it. I think I could have handled it differently.”
Looking ahead to Saturday night’s contest, Dillon Overton takes the hill for the Padres and will square-off against Dodgers’ veteran lefty Rich Hill.
The Dodgers control the season series six games to one, highlighted by a 14-3 shellacking of San Diego on Opening Day. At 54-28, Los Angeles leads the NL West by 3-1/2 games over Arizona, and six games over Colorado entering play on Saturday.
(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)