The San Diego Padres look back upon Arlington, TX. fondly as the place where Slam Diego began. The Los Angeles Dodgers look upon the Padres not so fondly, as one of the stodgy teams annoyed by the Friars’ bat-flipping, loosey-goosey ways.
The Padres, on the ascent after years of also-ran status, take on the Dodgers, winners of eight consecutive National League West division titles, in Game 1 of their NL Division Series Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
“They’re very skilled at what they do on that side,” said Padres Manager Jayce Tingler. “We’re a confident, athletic group and we think we’re gonna match up well.”
The game begins at 6:38 p.m. and will air on FS1. The series is being played in Texas as part of Major League Baseball’s plan to hold playoff games at neutral sites due to the pandemic.
Texas-sized smiles. pic.twitter.com/zGs6ocaVxc
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 5, 2020
Petco Park, for instance, is not dark, but host for the New York Yankees-Tampa Bay Rays series, which began Monday.
The Dodgers, the league’s No. 1 seed, and the Padres, it’s No. 4 seed, finished one-two in the NL West.
To get to the Division Series, the Dodgers dispatched the Milwaukee Brewers in two games in their wild-card series. The Padres took two out of three from the St. Louis Cardinals after a thrilling Game 2 uprising.
That comeback was emblematic of the Slam Diego turnaround that began for the Padres in Arlington when they swept four games from the Texas Rangers.
At that time, “everything kind of clicked together,” for the team, Wil Myers recalled of the series.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) October 4, 2020
The Rangers, though, took umbrage as Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his grand slam during a game that was already a rout.
That ignited a baseball-wide debate about the sport’s unwritten rules. It came up again when Trent Grisham flipped his bat after a home run against Clayton Kershaw on Sept. 14. MLB.com reported that Dodger star Mookie Betts said Grisham’s theatrics fired his team up.
Of course the long-time division rivals have history, though the Dodgers’ is more storied. They have never met in the playoffs, but 1996 does serve as a David-and-Goliath reminder for the Padres that the Dodgers can be taken down.
That year, the Padres swept the final series of the year at Dodger Stadium, snatching the NL West title from the Dodgers, who had to settle for the wild-card slot.
This year, the Dodgers will lead with starters Walker Buehler and Kershaw in the best-of-five series. It remains to be seen if the Padres will be as pitching strapped against the Dodgers as they were against the Cardinals. They list their Game 1 and 2 starters as TBD.
Injuries to Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet – and poor outings from Chris Paddack and Zach Davies – forced the Padres to lean hard on their bullpen throughout the wild-card series. Tingler said his relievers, with three days off, will be ready,
“Everybody’s going to be available, everybody’s going to be fresh,” he said.
Games 2 and 3, on Wednesday and Thursday, begin at 6:08 p.m. with Game 2 to air on FS1, and Game 3 on the MLB Network.
Games 4 and 5, if needed, will begin at 6:08 p.m. Friday and 5:08 p.m. Saturday. They are set to air on FS1.
– Staff reports