With Rowan Kavner
FOX Sports MLB Writer
LOS ANGELES — Not even the goosebump of a rally could change the Dodgers’ fortunes on Wednesday.
They’ll head to San Diego with the National League Division Series tied at one game apiece, left to mourn their failure to capitalize on opportunities and finish games in a 5-3 Game 2 loss to the Padres, whose relievers have still delivered. run in 9⅓ innings this series.
It’s not for lack of opportunity.
Twice, the Dodgers’ tying run stood 90 feet away with less than two outs and a chance to tie or take the lead in Wednesday’s late innings. Twice, this player never left third base.
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Will Smith led off the sixth inning with a single, and Max Muncy followed with a 357-foot drive to right field. The ball hit the wall, but Muncy only made it to first base. Manager Dave Roberts thought a deck by right fielder Juan Soto confused Muncie, who confirmed it.
“I thought Soto was going to get it,” Muncie said. “Then when he missed Will was right in front of me and I wasn’t sure if he was going to go third or not. When I saw him go to third, it was too late to make my decision and I didn’t want to go out there right away.”
Runners on the corners instead of two runners in scoring position would prove costly.
The Padres turned to their bullpen, as right-hander Robert Suarez came in for Yu Darvish. Suarez struck out Justin Turner before grounding Gavin Lux into a groundout double play.
“We had chances,” Lux said. “But that’s baseball.”
Not long after, the Dodgers’ mistakes extended to their defense as well.
Both Darvish and Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw allowed three runs in five innings. The Dodgers called on Brusdar Graterol for the sixth inning, which began with a single by Brandon Drury. A groundout by Jake Cronenworth followed, but the ball was hit too late to turn second. A potential double-play grounder followed, but the ball was hit softer than Trea Turner expected and he couldn’t handle the short hop. All runners arrived safely.
“I thought he might have been a little too quick,” manager Dave Roberts said. “You’re not going to double the guy, so it was really important to get the first runner on and I just think the trade wasn’t good.”
A bouncy RBI single to right followed and put the Padres ahead for good.
The inning could have been much more devastating. Trent Grisham tried to break in a run, which was thwarted by Graterol sprinting off the mound and making an athletic throw to get Will Myers at the plate. The inning ended with a sprinting, over-the-shoulder run by Cody Bellinger to center field.
But the damage was done. After solo shots by Freddie Freeman in the first, Muncie in the second and Turner in the third, the Dodgers did not score again.
They loaded the bases in the seventh, but a lineout to center by Smith left the Dodgers empty-handed. They finished the night 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding 10 men on base in the loss.
“You just look at the game, and there were a couple of opportunities – two innings – where we had a chance, if at all, to get a run to tie the game, let alone take the lead. ” said Roberts. “We couldn’t do that.”
In the eighth inning, another opportunity arose after a short delay because a goose landed in shallow center field.
Lux followed with a one-out single. The Padres then turned to Josh Hader with two outs and Trayce Thompson drew a walk. Perhaps, the feathered friend changed the mojo.
A goose is on the loose at Dodger Stadium!
A goose was on the field in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the NLDS between the Padres and Dodgers.
But again, the Dodgers put two runners on base. Again, it was nothing.
(It was just a regular goose, not of the rally variety.)
Bellinger had singled the previous inning, but the Dodgers went to the bench to take away the lefty-lefty matchup. Bellinger is 3-for-12 with a home run and five career hits against Hader. Chris Taylor, a pinch-hitting option, is 3-for-8 with two walks against the hard-throwing lefty. Roberts also said before the series began that Miguel Vargas was on the roster for his “hit tool” and “bat-to-ball” ability, but he wasn’t the rookie to grab a bat.
Instead, the Dodgers went to backup catcher Austin Barnes, who was 1-for-6 with three strikeouts in his career against Hader. Taylor’s health was an issue entering the postseason after dealing with a neck issue late in the year, but Roberts said that didn’t factor into the decision. Taylor, after all, is expected to start Game 3.
Roberts liked Barnes’ short swing and flat drive against Hunter over Taylor’s more uphill swing, but Barnes flew out to center.
“He took two good swings,” Roberts said.
In the ninth, he waited for another chance. The Dodgers put a runner in scoring position for the fourth straight inning, but Freeman was stranded at second base.
The Dodgers’ 11 hits Wednesday came in just three runs and a streak that will continue this weekend at Petco Park.
“We had a lot of opportunities. We just didn’t capitalize on them today,” Freeman said. “If we keep creating those chances on Friday and get those big hits, we’ll be fine.”
Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and the NL West for FOX Sports. He was previously the editor of the Dodgers digital and print editions. Follow him on Twitter at @Rowan Kavner.
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