Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to the Padres lineup Friday night and quickly made his presence felt in both a good and bad way in a relatively short period of time.
And that was before he struck out to leave the bases loaded in the 10th.
However, in the end it was a battle between which bullpen (and defense) could actually hold onto a lead. Three ties and a lead change through the first 9 innings sent the game to extras where both teams failed to score through two innings.
Then, finally, this…
On their 9th pitcher of the night, the wheels finally came off for the Padres. After allowing Corey Seager‘s lead-off, two-run homer, Tim Hill allowed a pair of singles before an error loaded the bases. Zach McKinstry drove in his 13th run of the season, forcing Hill out of the game and Jake Cronenworth onto the mound (with Joe Musgrove in left field).
From there, somehow the game included a sacrifice fly for David Price to Musgrove, scoring the Dodgers’ 11th run and a strikeout for Mookie Betts against Cronenworth.
The Dodgers improved to 12-2 with the 11-6 victory while the Padres fell to 9-6 as they lost the first game of the 19-game World Series between the teams.
Because this recap was written and rewritten and reorganized many, many times during the final few innings, let’s just get to how it finally ended.
Dennis Santana managed to dance around the winning run standing at third with one away in the 10th. After hitting Jorge Mateo and walking Trent Grisham around a strikeout, Santana faced Tatis Jr. with the game on the line. A first-pitch slider put the Dodgers’ pitcher ahead before he was forced to even the count at 2-2 with another slider Tatis Jr. swung through. Sticking with the pitch twice more, Santana had one fouled off before getting the strikeout looking.
While the Dodgers’ offense once again failed to score in the 11th, David Price entered to pitch out of the bullpen for the second straight day. A quick one-pitch groundout and intentional walk set Price up to keep the Dodgers alive again, striking out Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers on a combined seven pitches.
Price struck out two more in the 12th after driving in the game’s final run, completing an incredibly impressive outing.
Now back to everything I wrote three hours ago that mostly became an afterthought.
A solo homer by Tatis Jr. in the bottom of the 5th inning pushed the Padres back in front 2-1 after the Dodgers had just tied the game in the top of the 5th. However, an ill-advised throw on a hard-hit ball by Chris Taylor turned the tide in the 6th. Diving to keep the ball in the infield with runners on the corners, Tatis Jr. tried to get Max Muncy at second. Instead, the ball went wide with Turner scoring to tie the game and Muncy hustling around the bases for the lead.
The teams traded runs across the final few innings, with McKinstry driving in yet another run with a double in the 8th after costing the team a run with an error in the 7th.
The Padres came right back against the Dodgers’ bullpen, with a one-out double for Jurickson Profar tying the game at 5-5 in the 8th.
Mookie Betts and Justin Turner helped the Dodgers temporarily retake the 9th. A lead-off single for the former off of Mark Melancon (the Padres’ 8th pitcher of the night) led to the go-ahead run as the latter worked a 2-1 count and fouled off a pair of pitches before bringing Betts home with a single to center.
Unfortunately, Kenley Jansen couldn’t hold onto the lead in his half of the 9th either.
Padres starter Ryan Weathers needed 67 pitches to get through just 3 innings, but the Dodgers failed to cash in on a pair of walks and McKinstry’s single. Betts and Seager were responsible for 15 pitches apiece in their first two plate appearances, helping run up the 21-year-old’s pitch total early on in his first career start.
Topping out at 38 pitches in his three games this season, Weathers stretched to 79 in his 3 2/3 innings as he finished up with a strikeout of Muncy. Pierce Johnson‘s first pitch in relief to Chris Taylor went 373 feet, but landed in the glove of Profar for the third out of the 4th inning.
As the Padres turned to Dan Altavilla in the 5th, Luke Raley tied the game after he drilled a slider to right-center for a 436-foot homer. Altavilla had thrown McKinstry a slider inside for strike three one pitch earlier, but left his very next pitch a little more over the plate and Raley made him pay by hitting it 113.5 mph (matching Edwin Rios for the hardest hit ball this season).
After allowing a lead-off single to Grisham in the 1st, Walker Buehler recorded three outs with a seldom used pitch through the very early part of the season. Throwing just six cutters in his first 12 innings (180 pitches), Buehler got Tatis Jr. swinging at one on a 2-2 pitch before Cronenworth weakly rolled one to Corey Seager for a double play.
Buehler threw 16 cutters, with five of his 16 Whiffs coming on the pitch. That was second to the six off of his curve, which accounted for three of his four strikeouts in the game.
The Padres struck first in the 2nd inning after Myers forced Buehler to throw 10 pitches to get him to line out before Profar walked to put runners on the corners with 2 out. Campusano sent a fastball into right to score Manny Machado (with a little help from Betts who slightly bobbled the ball) before Weathers flew out to end the inning.
A single off of second base by Hosmer and a 38.6 mph roller to third by Myers opened the 4th, with Profar moving them both over on a sacrifice bunt. Gifted the out, Buehler moved forward with two men in scoring position and one away. First getting Campusano to chase a 1-2 curve, Buehler followed by getting Tommy Pham to swing late on a 95-mph fourseamer and escape the inning.
The aforementioned Tatis Jr. homer put the Padres back in front in the 5th, but Buehler left the game leading 4-2. Allowing seven hits, Buehler did walk just one in his 6 innings of work against the Padres.
Blake Treinen got the first call out of the bullpen and put two men on ahead of facing Tatis Jr in the 7th. A six-pitch at-bat led to a grounder to third, with Turner forcing out Grisham at second. However, McKinstry rushed his throw a bit and sent it wide and into the ground. Ha-Seong Kim scored from second on the play, cutting the lead in half at 4-3 while Tatis Jr. held at first.
Treinen’s day came to an end after 18 pitches, with Victor Gonzalez entering to face Cronenworth and end the inning.
Corey Knebel was next up for the Dodgers, and also struggled to get through his inning. Machado and Myers each singled before Profar tied the score with his double. A strikeout and a walk ended Knebel’s day, with Jansen becoming the team’s fifth pitcher of the day.
Needing three pitches to retire Grisham, Jansen returned after sitting through the top of the 9th. Going ahead 0-2 on Tatis Jr., Jansen tossed three straight balls before getting the pop out to first. Jansen then recorded a four-pitch strikeout, with three swinging strikes and a pair of 95-mph(?) pitches, to put down Cronenworth before walking Machado.
Needing one out with the tying runner on third following a steal and wild pitch, Jansen continued the theme of the night as Hosmer tied the game with a single to right while behind 1-2 in the count.
Oh, and this happened in the 10th as if the game wasn’t dragging on long enough.
At least Saturday provides an incredibly fun pitching matchup as Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish face off in the 5:40 PDT start. Kershaw brings a 2.89 ERA/1.58 FIP/3.38 SIERA across 18 2/3 innings into Petco Park while Darvish enters with a 3.06 ERA/3.70 FIP/3.44 SIERA in 17 2/3 innings. Darvish has faced the Dodgers just once since leaving in free agency following the 2017 playoffs, a 7-inning, 10-strikeout outing on June 15, 2019. The Dodgers lone run came on a solo homer for Alex Verdugo as they lost 2-1 despite 7 scoreless innings for Buehler.