The bullpens ruled as the Padres opened up their Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday with a loss to fall behind 1-0 in the best-of-five series.
The Padre bullpen silenced the mighty Dodger offense for five-plus innings in the 5-3 setback, but unfortunately for the Friars, L.A.’s relievers answered them with four scoreless frames of their own.
The Mets were favored over the Padres in the wild-card series, but the matchup with the Dodgers appears even more lopsided:
- L.A. won 14 of their 19 regular-season games, including eight of 10 at Dodger Stadium on the way to logging a franchise-record 111 victories, the best in Major League Baseball. The team had a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
- The Padres, at 89-73, finished second in the National League West, 22 games behind L.A.. but secured the second of the three NL wild-card playoff spots, then upset the Mets, who had 101 regular-season victories, two games to one, in their series that ended Sunday.
Now trailing the Dodgers yet again, Wil Myers said simply of Wednesday’s contest, “Huge game. We need to win it.”
The Dodgers struck first in Game 1, as Mike Clevinger, pitching for the first time since Oct. 1, faced off against Julio Urías, 17-7 in the regular season with a league-best 2.16 ERA.
Clevinger, 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA in the regular season, had an 0-2 record and 9.69 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers, while Urías was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in four starts against the Padres.
L.A. jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a Trea Turner solo home run, a Will Smith double and a Max Muncy single.
They added three in the third and knocked Clevinger out of the game. But the Padres proved Urías is not unhittable in the fifth when Wil Myers led off the inning with a solo homer to left.
They then manufactured a couple of runs. A Jake Cronenworth single and Ha-Seong Kim double put men on second and third and Trent Grisham grounded out to Freddie Freeman to drive in Cronenworth. Austin Nola added sent a fly ball to left and Kim beat a bang-bang play at the plate to make it 5-3.
Meanwhile, Steven Wilson, Pierce Johnson, Tim Hill and Nick Martinez restored order out of the Padre pen, pitching five innings without giving up a hit. “Hats off to the bullpen,” Clevinger said after the game, crediting his teammates for “stopping the bleeding.”
Their shutdown work gave the Friars a chance, and in the sixth they had two on with no outs after a walk to Juan Soto and a dribbler up the third-base line that Manny Machado turned into a hit. But Chris Martin struck out Josh Bell and induced Myers to hit into a double play.
In a dramatic moment in the eighth, the Dodgers brought in Brusdar Graterol to face Machado, who took exception two years ago to the reliever’s emotional celebration during an L.A. playoff victory over the Padres. The slugger, though, sent a high fly ball to left that Trayce Thompson easily caught.
They also brought the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, after a Cronenworth single off Dodger Chris Martin. But Kim flied out to left to end the game.
The Padres will send Yu Darvish, 1-0 in the postseason, to the mound in Game 2 against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
“We always feel good when Yu’s on the mound. He’s been about as consistent a starter as there is in National League this year,” manager Bob Melvin said.
The game is set for about 6:35 p.m. Wednesday. Games 3 and 4 follow Friday and Saturday at Petco Park. Game 5, if necessary, will be Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
– City News Service contributed to this report.