SAN DIEGO — One-hundred and eleven wins, melted away in five short nights. The Los Angeles Dodgers, going, going, one reliever at a time toward gone within the seventh inning because the San Diego Padres strung together the rally of their lives.
The Dodgers didn’t know what hit them in a mustard-colored Padres lightning strike Saturday night, and it would take all of them winter to figure it out.
With five sudden runs in the underside of the seventh, the Padres delivered a 5-3 knockout punch. The Dodgers go home, and the Padres advance to a most unexpected National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, who eliminated the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves in the opposite N.L. division series earlier on Saturday. The Phillies and the Padres will start the N.L.C.S. in San Diego on Tuesday.
“Shock factor, very high,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said. “Disappointment, very high.
That the Dodgers were eliminated in a division series is a completely staggering development. Only three teams in history won more games than the 111 the Dodgers won this season: The 1906 Chicago Cubs (116-36), the 2001 Seattle Mariners (116-46) and the 1998 Latest York Yankees (114-48).
So a lot of their nights this summer ended with a handshake line and the anticipation of what was to return.
4 games into their postseason, they suddenly were speaking of their summer prior to now tense.
“It’s hard,” the All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “This was a extremely good team. A extremely, really good team. October baseball may be brutal.”
Because the Padres jubilantly swarmed out of their dugout to start a raucous celebration after closer Josh Hader struck out the side within the ninth inning, your entire 619 area code appeared to lift off into orbit. A Dodgers team that began the night certain it might push this series back to Los Angeles for Game 5 on Sunday evening as an alternative didn’t punch through Petco Park’s wall of sound over two evenings and 18 innings of deafening roars of “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!”
When it was over, the Dodgers slowly emptied from their dugout into the quiet of their clubhouse and a heartfelt talk from Roberts. Their ace, Clayton Kershaw, was one in all the last to depart. Second baseman Max Muncy was the last, standing alone for several minutes within the empty dugout gazing out on the thundering scene on the sector.
Manny Machado stood by the pitcher’s mound shouting and flapping his arms wildly, exhorting the group to boost its decibel level even higher. Pitcher Blake Snell raced across the infield holding aloft a plastic, life-size goose, a nod to the fowl that landed on the sector in Los Angeles in Game 2. Though that goose was captured by the grounds crew and, in response to the Dodgers, released into the wild, the Padres adopted it in spirit as a good-luck charm.
It wasn’t the World Series, however the Padres’ ambush of their fierce rivals up the freeway ranks as one in all the best postseason upsets in baseball history. Through the regular season, the Dodgers were 22 games higher than the Padres within the standings, 111 victories to 89. The one time a team beat an opponent that was greater than 22 wins higher was within the 1906 World Series, when the 93-win Chicago White Sox knocked off the 116-win Chicago Cubs. That difference was 23 games.
“While you don’t win the World Series, it doesn’t matter for those who won 80 games or 120 games,” Freeman said. “It’s only a disappointment.”
Kershaw echoed the frustration, noting “that’s what makes winning so great, and makes losing so bad. A part of being within the postseason is it’s just abrupt. It ends whenever you don’t expect it to.”
The Dodgers had set a franchise record for wins and winning percentage. They finished with the most effective run differential within the majors — the variety of runs a team scores minus the variety of runs it allows. Their plus-334 outpaced the Yankees (plus-240) within the American League and Atlanta (plus-180) within the National League.
But in 4 games against San Diego, the clutch hits rarely dropped and the season-long joyride ran out of gas. When Freeman doubled home two runs within the third inning Saturday night, it snapped a Dodgers’ streak of 0-for-20 with runners in scoring position on this division series. So many probabilities, so many blown opportunities. Everyone from Roberts to Freeman and beyond within the Dodgers clubhouse agreed: The bats needed to get up. They usually didn’t.
“I’m sure there’s a three-game span through the regular season that we didn’t do well, either,” Freeman said. “It’s just unlucky that it happened to us in October.”
It was an evening of massive surprises. The teams waited out a 31-minute rain delay to start, an incredibly rare occurrence in San Diego. Then, just after the Padres’ five-run outburst within the seventh, the skies opened up again and the Dodgers batted in a gradual rain within the eighth. By then, the biggest postseason crowd in Petco Park history, 45,139, had reignited. They were loud early, however the Dodgers’ 3-0 lead lulled them right into a wary trance for much of the sport before the Padres’ rally within the seventh brought more deafening chants of “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.” that greeted each Padre hitter as he stepped into the batter’s box.
As San Diego Manager Bob Melvin said after Game 3, it was as if the title-starved fans of this city were willing the hits and runs themselves.
The Padres’ seventh inning stretch run got here suddenly and without notice. The Dodgers held a 3-0 lead and the Padres, through the primary six innings had mustered just 4 hits and had advanced just two runners so far as second base. Tyler Anderson, a Los Angeles left-hander making only the second postseason start of his profession, shut them out on two hits over five innings. Chris Martin got Roberts’s crew through the sixth.
But then Tommy Kahnle issued a leadoff walk to begin the seventh, Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, Ha-Seong Kim and Juan Soto followed with 4 consecutive singles and, suddenly, the sport’s direction modified sharply. The Padres chewed through three relievers within the seventh — Kahnle, Yency Almonte and Alex Vesia — in sending 10 hitters to the plate.
“Considered one of the craziest innings of baseball I’ve ever seen,” said the Padres starter Joe Musgrove, who allowed two runs and 6 hits over six innings. “Once we got Anderson out of the sport, we knew we had a superb likelihood to chip away at their bullpen. Those guys have been used up the last couple of days. We’ve seen them a few times.”
Cronenworth’s two-run, two-out single proved the difference in the sport. It got here after the lefty Vesia replaced the right-handed Almonte with a 1 and 0 count. Roberts said Almonte was speculated to throw over to first to purchase Vesia more time to warm up. Cronenworth, who said he had never faced a pitching change in the course of an at-bat, used the time to walk back to the dugout and take in intelligence on Vesia. It worked.
Then the reliever Robert Suarez continued his domination of the Dodgers this series with a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Sensing the kill, the group roared louder.
And when Hader closed it out within the ninth, the Padres punched their ticket to their first N.L.C.S. since 1998, once they beat Atlanta to advance to only the second World Series of their history. There, they were swept by the Yankees, one in all the three teams in history to win more games than this yr’s Dodgers.
The Padres wanted no a part of going back to Los Angeles on Sunday. For one thing, they knew Julio Urias, ace for the Dodgers, could be waiting. Mostly, though, they wanted to present their fans a celebration in Petco Park.
“As much as we all know there’s quite a lot of baseball ahead of us and more games to be played, that is something that should be celebrated,” Musgrove said. “Because for a very long time those guys up north have been beating us down and knocking us out of playoff contention and brought the division from us every yr.
“So these fans need to have fun tonight as a moment of the changing of the tides, hopefully.”
On the opposite side, the lockers were empty and a season that just about was for the ages as an alternative was finished. As pitcher Dustin May headed for the door, he stopped long enough to present Kershaw a farewell tap on the shoulder.
Kershaw looked up, smiled warmly and said, “See ya, brother.”
After tonight, there could be no more baseball for the Dodgers. There would only be winter.