2022 MLB Playoffs: Padres show they can compete with Dodgers in Game 2 win

With Pedro Mura
FOX Sports MLB Writer

LOS ANGELES — During the regular season, the Padres played the Dodgers like a team on the brink of relegation. The Dodgers struck them out 14 times in 19 attempts, more than doubling San Diego’s offensive output.

The most dominant team since integration earned heavy favorite status entering this National League Division Series, regardless of the Padres’ momentum since their 101-win upset of the Mets.

But through the first two games of the series, the Padres played the Dodgers like themselves, if not their superiors. With a 5-3 win in Game 2 on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, they evened that series. And it’s not just the 5-3 back-to-back results that show the balance between these teams. it’s also how the Padres have played. Seven relievers have provided clean relief. Players throughout the lineup have delivered in key situations. And their stars have played.

‘We’ve been fighting all year’ — Manny Machado talks Padres resiliency

Manny Machado talks with Tom Verducci about the San Diego Padres’ blowout win against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw’s home run.

The teams traded early solo hits from their No. 3 hitters on Wednesday. In the first inning, Manny Machado hit a hanging slider inside the left field foul pole and Freddie Freeman cleared the center field wall with a missed cutter. Max Muncy matched his efforts in the second, while Clayton Kershaw held serve, striking out two Padres with two men in scoring position.

After the Padres put together another rally in the third to pull within two runs, Trea Turner tied the score again with a third-inning solo shot.

Trea Turner hits a solo home run

Trea Turner hits a solo home run

Trea Turner hits a solo home run off Yu Darvish to tie the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres 3-3.

It stayed that way until the sixth, when the Padres hit Brusdar Graterol, the first man out of the Dodgers. Brandon Drury redirected his first pitch to center for a single. When Turner looked away from a potential double play ball that followed, the Padres grabbed the gift. Jurickson Profar hit a run-scoring single to right.

San Diego scored once more in the eighth when Jake Cronenworth sent another home run into the stands.

Jake Cronenworth blasts home run to extend lead over Dodgers

Jake Cronenworth blasts home run to extend lead over Dodgers

San Diego second baseman Jake Cronenworth hit a home run to right field by relief pitcher Blake Treinen to extend the Padres’ lead to 5-3.

Padres manager Bob Melvin relied on Robert Suarez and closer Josh Hunter to get 10 outs and allowed two more to swingman Nick Martinez. Much of the rest of his bullpen was depleted by Mike Clevinger’s short start in Tuesday’s Game 1, but Melvin will rest everyone when this series resumes Friday in San Diego.

It was the Dodgers, not the Padres, who made the most egregious mistakes Wednesday. Turner committed two outs, while what appeared to be an error by Juan Soto might instead have been an alert that convinced Muncie to stay on first base in a move that should have won him second.

At third base, Machado repeatedly limited the Dodgers’ offense, especially in the fifth inning when he executed a soft slide play on Turner’s 103 mph grounder. Over 50% of the time, according to Statcast, Turner’s move would be successful. In Machado’s hands, it looked like an easy out.

San Diego’s strategy was to ambush Kershaw. In the fourth inning alone, four batters swung at Kershaw’s first pitch. By then, it was clear he couldn’t land his curveball for strikes. So they knew they were going to get something around 90 mph, either his slider or his fastball.

The Dodgers deployed a similar tack against Yu Darvish, who offers far more potential pitches. After Melvin bet that Darvish could get past him in the sixth, it looked like the bet might backfire. But Suarez came in just in time and induced the kind of double play that allowed the Dodgers to escape with a Game 1 win.

This time, it was the Padres who escaped. In a best-of-3 series in which they now have home-field advantage, they will remain the underdogs.

But this series looks a lot closer than it did 48 hours ago.

Pedro Moura is the national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for The Athletic, the Angels and Dodgers for the Orange County Register and LA Times and his alma mater, USC, for ESPN Los Angeles. He is the author of “How to Beat a Broken Game”. Follow him on Twitter @bergamot.

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