It wasn’t neat, it wasn’t necessarily tidy. But when all was said and done, the Dodgers got the win, and that’s all that matters.
As I sit and think about Wednesday night’s game the morning after, the more I think it was just what the Dodgers needed.
For all that it was, this is a game that I wanted to see. The Padres got pumped, they were pressing, and still the Dodgers came out on top. The Padres are excellent at manufacturing fun, excitement, and pressure at the other team’s expense. Still, somehow, the Dodgers won.
It’s true that some could think that they just narrowly avoided disaster, that the bases shouldn’t have been loaded to end the game, that Kenley Jansen should’ve pitched better. Maybe Joe Kelly was not the right pitcher to come in and relieve the struggling Jansen. Maybe they just got lucky.
But overall, I think this game, as tenuous as it was, gives the Dodgers a big boost of confidence. Their pitching staff wasn’t on their best game the whole time, but their offense is starting to click and the pitching was good enough.
The Padres employed a swinging at first pitch strategy, and scored first in the game. An RBI Wil Myers double in the second inning scored Tommy Pham, but Clayton Kershaw battled back and left Myers stranded on second.
The Dodgers started their scoring in the bottom of the third inning. A.J. Pollock singled, and went to third on a single by Austin Barnes. Mookie Betts drilled a liner to third that Manny Machado snagged. But then Corey Seager doubled down the first base line, scoring both Pollock and Barnes. Max Muncy later followed with a single, plating Seager.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cody Bellinger took the first pitch out over the centerfield wall for the first home run into the series. Barnes and Betts both hit two out singles, but Barnes was thrown out at third trying to reach third on Betts’ hit.
Kershaw has some innings of brilliance, like his nine pitch first inning. Others he had to work his way out of traffic on the bases. But overall he was very good until the sixth inning, when Machado and Eric Hosmer followed up Bellinger’s homer by each hitting one of their own and the Dodgers took a narrow 4-3 lead to the bottom of the sixth.
Blake Treinen relieved Kershaw in the top of the seventh. He got the first two outs before hitting Trent Grisham. Dave Roberts took him out in favor of Brusdar Graterol, who promptly balked Grisham to second. On the next pitch, Fernando Tatis Jr launched one to deep centerfield, where Bellinger made an amazing robbery of what would’ve been a go-ahead home run. After the Padres bench had gotten incredibly hyped, that catch prompted some F bomb hurling from each side to their counterparts.
In the bottom of the seventh, both Betts and Seager reached base. Drew Pomeranz was brought in to relieve Pagan, and Betts and Seager executed a double steal to be on second and third, which payed off. Justin Turner hit a sacrifice fly to score Betts. Muncy followed with a tear drop single to short left, and Seager scored to make it 6-3.
Kenley Jansen came in to get the save in the ninth. Cronenworth, after an 11 pitch at bat, reached on a comebacker up the middle, and then Mitch Moreland hit an RBI double to score Cronenworth. Jansen allowed Grisham to get on base, and Joe Kelly was brought in to preserve the one run game. He issued back to back walks to Tatis Jr and Machado. But he got Hosmer to ground out to second to end the game. A 49 pitch ninth inning, but it ended the Dodgers’ way.
We’ve watched this team blow that type of game time and again. Same dang thing – Kershaw pitches well until he doesn’t, and bullpen fails to get the win. But Wednesday night, the narrative was flipped.
We have time to break down the status of the bullpen later. But there are many positive things to take from this game. Muncy and Bellinger both look much better at the plate. The Dodgers are creating their own hype and raw emotions. Dave Roberts has a shorter leash on Jansen than in years past. And for that matter, recognized something in Kershaw, and also pulled him at the right time in the game. Maybe, just maybe all of the past postseason disasters are being used to learn from and this is the year they get corrected, and the Dodgers finally get it all right.