If the next 18 meetings between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers are anything like Friday night’s first clash of the season … well, it could be a season unto itself.
Even the Dodgers might have to admit this is now a rivalry.
Friday night, the National League West neighbors battled for 12 innings over 4 hours and 57 minutes before the Dodgers prevailed 11-6.
There were a couple of lead changes and three ties plus a benches-clearing incident in the 10th inning. Seventeen pitchers saw action with 420 pitches thrown. The game ended with second baseman Jake Cronenworth pitching for the Padres with pitcher Joe Musgrove playing in left field for the first time in his career — and catching a sacrifice fly from another pitcher (winner David Price).
Now, the aces take over Saturday night in the second game of the showdown in San Diego.
Three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw will start for the Dodgers against the Padres’ Yu Darvish, who finished second in the NL Cy Young voting to the Reds’ Trevor Bauer in 2020.
The left-handed Kershaw has a 2-1 record with a 2.89 ERA in three starts this season. Darvish, one of three starting pitchers acquired by the Padres this past offseason to mount a challenge against the Dodgers, is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in three outings.
And while one star has returned to the Padres, another will be absent for the Dodgers for an unspecified amount of time.
Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to the Padres’ lineup Friday and homered, becoming only the eighth player in major-league history to have 40 homers (41) and 100 RBIs in fewer than 150 games (149).
The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger also is in that elite club. But L.A. announced just before Friday’s opener to the three-game series that Bellinger, who hasn’t played since April 5, will miss an unspecified amount of time with a hairline fracture in his left fibula.
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, who scored the go-ahead run in the 12th inning Friday night, said he was happy to see Tatis back in the San Diego lineup.
“We want to play them at their best,” said Betts. “We want to be at our best. I think that’s what makes it fun, so I’m glad he’s not seriously hurt. He’s back in their lineup, it’s fun.”
The Padres can take partial credit for Kershaw’s Cy Young successes. The left-hander has a 177-77 career record. He is 21-7 lifetime against the Padres with a 2.03 ERA in 40 starts with 277 strikeouts in 261 innings. He is 9-3 in 17 starts at Petco Park with a 1.83 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 108 innings.
Darvish has faced the Dodgers only once before, holding them to one run on two hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts in 2019. Darvish, who was 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts last year, is the all-time leader among qualifying starting pitchers with 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
“This is going to be a test for us,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “We’re seeing some really good pitching.”
As for the Padres-Dodgers rivalry …
“We understand there are going to be a lot of battles,” said Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer. “We’ve got to come ready to play, see where we are at. Having a little history with them in the playoffs last year will spice things up a little bit. They’re the best team in baseball. They’ve earned the right to be called that.”
–Field Level Media