Dodgers-Padres: Lessons from San Diego’s Game 2 Victory in the NLDS

The San Diego Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 in Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday. Padres’ win means they’ve drawn a best-of-five series 1-1, so it’s like a three-game series with Padres having their home field. This was the start to end the funniest game ever of the 2022 postseason and one of the funniest baseball games ever. On top of more action, there was action on top of drama. Let’s dive in. This won’t be complete because there were so many fun things to do. The fun of dropping bombs early began almost immediately. Manny Machado hit a home run against Clayton Kershaw for the first time to give Padres a quick lead. Freddie Freeman hit a home run in the second half to level the situation. Max Munsey hit a home run in the second to take the Dodgers lead. After Padres scored two goals in the bottom of the third with a rally that included a Machado double, Trea Turner hit a home run to level, which was his second long in the series. In a match that many would expect to score low (7 total runs or “over/under”), he scored six points and four home runs in his first three innings. The action wasn’t limited to a home run or the first three innings. The Dodgers’ defense gave and took one out in the sixth inning, giving Trea Turner a mistake on Wil Myers’ ground. Next up was Jurickson Profar. Then, Dodgers pitcher Brusdar Graterol made a shortstop-like play to catch the runners at home while attempting a safety press. Austin Nola followed the rocket to the center to score two points. Instead, Cody Bellinger caught over the shoulder on the warning track. Suarez’s magic in the second half did not slow down. Following Will Smith’s infield single, the line shot Max Munchy single followed, and the Dodgers placed runners 1st and 3rd without an out in the 6th inning. Padres removed starter Yu Darvish and replaced him with Robert Suarez. Giving up a single run in such a situation is not so terrible. Realistically, the only way to not allow goals is to strikeout or strikeout and play doubles. Suarez passed the latter. He induced the inning ending twin to get Justin Turner out and kill Gavin Lux’s bat. At the time, it was like Padres completely took over the game. Of course, they had to deal with another big threat. Suarez escaped in the 7th inning and 1 out in the 7th inning, with Cody Bellinger hitting a hit and Mookie Betts sending a liner into the gap in the left. Padres center fielder Trent Grisham put a lot of effort into it and someone might argue he should have caught it. Bellinger finished third because he had to look around first in case Grisham catches it. So the Betts double gave the Dodgers runners second and third with one out. With the infield drawn, Trea Turner pounded Manny Machado hard and Bellinger looked back before bringing in the first runner. A trap set by Turner who went down to the ground to lure Myers into downfall). After deliberately walking Freddie Freeman, Suarez gave up a hardline drive to Will Smith, but Grisham was perfectly positioned and the threat was over. Padres still have six outs left while holding on to this one-point lead. Let’s hand our hats over to Robert Suarez though. The 31-year-old relief pitcher, who played in Mexico and Japan, did not play in the minor leagues until 2022. On April 7, he made his major league debut with the Padres and had a very good rookie year. And he likely had six of the biggest outs of the Padres season. Cronenworth’s Insurance With Jake Cronenworth breaking a staggering home run with a one out in the bottom of the eighth, he probably felt like his teammates on the mound had to sweat too much for that one-point lead. 416 feet of breathing space. The insurance run gave Padres a 5-3 lead. Hader’s 4 out-save drama isn’t over. Gavin Lux made a hit with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, and Padres manager Bob Melvin decided to move on to closer Josh Hader. With only four outs left, Hader hasn’t gone more than an inning since August. January 14, 2020, the date of his last four-out save. Hader is also known for horribly increasing his pitching this year. From July 4 to August 28, Hader appeared in 17 games, conceding goals in nine of those games, and added a disastrous ERA of 17.31 during that time. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 10 outings, so it’s possible he’s locked, but there’s always a concern that his struggle will return. Hader walked Trayce Thompson, but Austin Barnes flew to the deep center to finish the bottom of the eighth. In the ninth, he got two outs before Freddie Freeman smashed the ball off the right center wall, which looked like a home run but fell to a double. Will Smith tied for the plate and flew deep to the right on the hard liner. It wasn’t clean, but Hader especially slowed the flash out, striking out Trea Turner 2 out of 9 innings. Here he looked like a vintage Hader. Here are some things to keep in mind as you progress through this series. Playoff Kershaw? Fair or not, Clayton Kershaw’s “suffocation” theme in the playoffs is a favorite of many. He’s absolutely not a choke artist or anything so extreme. Because he’s had a lot of great outings under great pressure. It’s not accurate to suggest that he somehow deflates at every critical moment. But he did tick worse in his career in the playoffs and that’s not a small sample fluke. Coming to this game, he has a 2.48 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in the regular season compared to 4.19 and 1.07. His percentage of home runs allowed in the playoffs (1.3 HR/9) was nearly double that of the regular season (0.7 HR/9). This was a mixed bag. He struck out six with no one walking. He also had six hits and three runs in five innings, including a home run and a double. He is averaging a 5.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP after averaging 2.28 and 0.94 in the regular season. He certainly wasn’t bad and he didn’t “choke”. He didn’t lose the Dodgers game. He allowed three runs in five innings, as he faced Darvish Yu. He also wasn’t good enough to silence his opponents. The story lives on for another day. It is persistent. Next: Friday Third Game After Thursday’s closure, the series will travel to San Diego’s Petco Park for Friday’s Third Game. The first pitch is set at 8:37 PM EST. Padres starts southpaw Blake Snell. He posted a 2.19 ERA (2.23 FIP) in his last 14 starts and struck out 105 in 78 innings during that period. He had a bad game against the Mets in the last wild card series, allowing 6 walks and home runs in 3 1/3 innings. He pitched five cleanlines the last time he met the Dodgers, but had been bombarded by them before. The Dodgers will start right-handed Tony Gonsolin (16-1, 2.14). He’s actually gotten worse on the road this season, but still has a shiny 2.66 ERA. He faced the Padres only once and conceded only one run in seven innings. But it could be a short outing as Gonsolin has been out all September with a forearm injury. He had a two-inning tune-up on October 3, throwing 40 pitches.
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