Dodgers-Padres: Takeaways from San Diego’s Game 2 win in the NLDS – CBS Sports

Dodgers-Padres: Takeaways from San Diego's Game 2 win in the NLDS - CBS Sports

The San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3, in Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday. The Padres’ win means they tied the best-of-five series at 1-1, so it’s tied for a three-game series now with the Padres having home field. This was set up to end the most entertaining game of the 2022 postseason to this point and one of the more entertaining baseball games to be seen. It was action on top of drama on top of more action.

Let’s dive in. This won’t be exhaustive, because there was just too much fun stuff.

Bombs off early

The fun started almost immediately.

Manny Machado homered off Clayton Kershaw in the first to give the Padres a quick lead.

Freddie Freeman homered in the bottom half to tie things up. Max Muncy homered in the second to give the Dodgers the lead. After the Padres scored two in the top of the third — with a rally that included a Machado double — Trea Turner homered to tie it, his second long ball of the series.

In a game many expected to be low-scoring — the total, or “over/under” was 7 — the offenses combined for six runs and four home runs through the first three innings.

The action wasn’t limited to home runs or the first three innings, either.

Dodgers defense give and take away in sixth

With one out in the sixth, Trea Turner committed an error on a Wil Myers groundout. Next up was Jurickson Profar, who he singled home the unearned run.

Then, on an attempted safety push, Dodgers pitcher Brusdar Graterol made a shortstop-like play to trap the runner at home. Austin Nola followed with a rocket to center that would scored two runs. Instead, Cody Bellinger made an over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track.

Suarez’s magic in the bottom half

The action didn’t slow down. A Will Smith infield single was followed by a line shot Max Muncy single, putting runners on first and third with no outs in the sixth for the Dodgers. The Padres removed starter Yu Darvish and traded in Robert Suarez in relief. In situations like this, giving up just one run isn’t that terrible. Pretty much the only way to realistically not allow a run would be to get strikeouts or a strikeout and a double play.

Suarez came through with the latter. He struck out Justin Turner and then induced an inning twin killing off the bat of Gavin Lux.

At the time, it felt like the moment the priests seized total control of the game.

Of course, they had to deal with another serious threat.

Suarez escapes in the seventh, too

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Cody Bellinger singled and Mookie Betts sent a liner to the left-center gap. Padres center fielder Trent Grisham made a big effort and one could argue that he should have caught it – although it would have been a spectacular catch – but instead missed it. Bellinger ended up on third because he had to hang around at first in case Grisham caught it, so the Betts double put the Dodgers runners on second and third with one out.

With the infield pulled in, Trea Turner hit a hard grounder right at Manny Machado, who looked Bellinger back before getting the runner at first (the throw pulled first baseman Wil Myers off the bag and he did well to adjust and then avoid falling into the trap set by Turner, who descended to the ground in hopes of luring Myers into exhaustion).

After intentionally walking Freddie Freeman, Suarez gave up a hard line drive to Will Smith, but Grisham was positioned perfectly and the threat was over.

The Padres still had six outs to go while clinging to that one-run lead.

However, let’s tip our caps to Robert Suarez. The 31-year-old reliever, who spent his career playing in Mexico and Japan, has never even been in Minor League Baseball until 2022. On April 7, he made his MLB debut with the Padres and launched a very good rookie year.

And it’s possible he just recorded the six biggest strikeouts of the Padres’ season.

Cronenworth’s insurance

Maybe he felt his teammates on the mound had to sweat it out too much with that one-run lead, because Jake Cronenworth crushed a huge home run with one out in the eighth.

That’s 416 feet of breathing room. The insurance run gave the Padres a 5-3 lead.

The four-out save by Hader

The drama was far from over. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Gavin Lux singled and Padres manager Bob Melvin decided to go to closer Josh Hader. Only four outings remain, but Hader hasn’t gone longer than one inning since August 14, 2020, the date of his last four outings.

Hader also famously had a terrible stretch of pitching this year. From July 4 to August 28, Hader appeared in 17 games and allowed runs in nine of them, amounting to a paltry 17.31 ERA in that stretch. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 10 outings, so maybe he’s set, but there’s always that worry that his struggles are coming back.

Hader walked Trayce Thompson but then got Austin Barnes to fly out to deep center to end the eighth. In the ninth, he got two outs before Freddie Freeman crushed a ball off the right-center wall that looked like it might be a home run off the bat but fell for a double. Will Smith came to the plate on the tying run and flied out to deep right on a hard liner.

It wasn’t clean, but Hader slowed down blitzes, especially in striking out Trea Turner for the second out of the ninth, where he looked more like vintage Hader. It’s something to consider moving forward in this series.

Final Kershaw?

Fair or not, the issue of Clayton Kershaw “choking” in the playoffs is a favorite for many. He is absolutely not a stuffy artist or anything extreme as he has had a litany of great outings under immense pressure. It’s just not right to suggest that he somehow shrinks from every big moment.

He’s been a decent tick worse in his career in the playoffs though and it’s not a bunch of little sample flukiness. Coming into this game, he had a career 2.48 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in the regular season compared to 4.19 and 1.07. His rate of home runs allowed in the finals (1.3 HR/9) was almost double that of the regular season (0.7 HR/9).

This one was a mixed bag. He struck out six without walking anyone. He also gave up three runs on six hits — including a home run and a double — in five innings. That’s a 5.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP after he posted 2.28 and 0.94 in the regular season.

He certainly wasn’t bad and didn’t “suffocate”. He didn’t lose the Dodgers the game. He matched Yu Darvish by allowing three runs in five innings. He was also not good enough to shut down the opponents. The story lives to fight another day. It is persistent.

Next up: Game 3 Friday

After an off day on Thursday, this series moves to Petco Park in San Diego for Game 3 on Friday. First pitch is set for 8:37 pm ET.

The Padres will start lefty Blake Snell. He’s looked like his old Cy Young self down the stretch, posting a 2.19 ERA (2.23 FIP) in his last 14 starts while striking out 105 in 78 innings in that span. He was bad last time out, though, against the Mets in the Wild Card Series, walking six and giving up a home run in his 3 1/3 innings. He threw five scoreless the last time he saw the Dodgers, but was shellacked by them the previous time.

The Dodgers will start righty Tony Gonsolin (16-1, 2.14). He was actually worse on the road this season, but it was still a brilliant 2.66 ERA. He only faced the Padres once and gave up just one run in seven innings of work. It might be a short outing, though, as Gonsolin missed all of September with a forearm injury. He had a two-inning performance on October 3 in which he threw 40 pitches.

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