If there’s one thing that we learned over the course of the first two games of the 2022 NLDS, it’s that the San Diego Padres have come ready to play. By no means have the Dodgers been performing well, but the Padres have shown they will not roll over easily the way they did in 14 of the 19 matchups during the regular season.
If you’re a big follower of social media, it wasn’t hard to sense the frustration among fans after Game 2, even though it was just the team’s first loss of the playoffs. Several small squabbles among Dodger fans broke out in the stands and the concourse, indicating the high levels of tension.
Fans were expressing their opinions all over the place, from dissatisfaction with the starting pitching to the underperformance of the bullpen to the in-game decisions by manager Dave Roberts. This scenario is certainly an unfamiliar sight, as there wasn’t much at all to complain about during the club’s record-breaking 111-51 regular season.
One of the biggest fan beefs was when Roberts opted to use Austin Barnes as a pinch-hitter for Cody Bellinger with the team threatening to score in the bottom of the eighth. Gavin Lux was on second and Trayce Thompson was on first courtesy of a single and a walk, but Barnes flew out to center just shy of the warning track to end the rally. All this happened with both Chris Taylor and Miguel Vargas on the bench because Roberts preferred Barnes’ “shorter swing” against San Diego reliever Josh Hader.
At the end of the day, the problem wasn’t so much Roberts, as the Dodgers simply could not drive home the men they put on base. The Dodgers out-hit the Padres 11-9, but they left a whopping 19 runners on base, a formula that will not produce an overwhelming number of wins against a decent MLB club like San Diego.
Nevertheless, as our good friend Tommy Lasorda used to say, “one game does not make an entire playoff series.” Even though there’s still plenty of baseball left, the series has now come down to a best-of-three affair, with two of the games scheduled in San Diego.
A few things that we do know ahead of Game 3 is that Taylor will start in left field with Thompson shifting to center. Tony Gonsolin will get the start on the mound, although his max pitch count will likely be under 75 pitches. Roberts stated via Zoom on Thursday that he’ll have Andrew Heaney and Dustin May ready to piggyback Gonsolin, with a plan of starting lefty Tyler Anderson in Game 4.
The Padres will send southpaw Blake Snell to the bump in Friday’s Game 3, which probably factored into Roberts’ decision of starting an all-righty-hitting outfield.
Friday’s first pitch is slated for 5:37 p.m. Pacific.