LOS ANGELES — All you needed to learn about how enormously essential Game 2 of this National League division series was for San Diego, how big of a must-win this 5-3 decision over Los Angeles was, got here with two outs and one on in the underside of the eighth inning. That’s when Padres Manager Bob Melvin decisively walked to the mound and waved for his closer, Josh Hader.
Melvin was asking Hader to acquire 4 outs to preserve the lead, the sport and, most likely, the Padres’ season. This much had not been asked of Hader in greater than a yr. The last time he worked multiple inning for a save got here on Oct. 1, 2020.
And all you needed to learn about how off-the-rails this evening nearly went got here while you watched Hader’s trot in from the correct field bullpen in Dodger Stadium. His path took him right past a goose that had landed in shallow right field a batter or two earlier and decided to stay around.
The strain made for a terrific playoff atmosphere. After the Padres managed to hold on, what a series this might turn into.
“Probably as backwards and forwards a game as you’ll see,” Melvin said. “Quite a lot of drama to it. Fun win.”
The Padres and the Dodgers traded haymakers early. Manny Machado, Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Trea Turner all homered before the tip of the third inning.
The teams then exchanged slick defensive plays mid-game. Mookie Betts coaxed a leadoff walk from Yu Darvish to begin the fifth with the rating tied at 3-3 then set sail for second base. The Dodgers’ stolen base success rate for the season at that time was 85 percent. Darvish isn’t known for being quick to the plate, yet he sped things up, catcher Austin Nola fired a strike to second baseman Jake Cronenworth and the Padres extinguished Betts on the steal attempt.
“There are such a lot of things that need to go right on a play like that,” Nola said. “You will have to get a great pitch. The pitcher must be quick to the plate. You will have to get a great tag. Hopefully Mookie doesn’t get a great jump.
“It was a phenomenal baseball play throughout.”
Melvin called it Nola’s “best throw of the yr.” And it got here at the right time.
Though Turner muffed a ground ball in the highest of the sixth, the Padres, leading by 4-3, lost a probability to interrupt the sport open when the Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol pounced on a would-be safety squeeze bunt and threw home to nail Cronenworth. Then Cody Bellinger made a blinding catch in deep center field to finish the inning and strand two Padres baserunners.
The Dodgers put two on with none out in the underside of the inning. But Robert Suarez emerged from the Padres bullpen and struck out Justin Turner on a 101-mile-per-hour fastball. Cronenworth and shortstop Ha-Seong Kim then turned a nifty double play on Gavin Lux’s bouncer to finish the threat.
“The play of the sport,” Melvin said.
Poetic, too, in that it was Lux who had snared Wil Myers’s hard bouncer the night before — also within the sixth inning — to begin the double play that Dodgers’ Manager Dave Roberts termed a very powerful play of Game 1.
As Machado, who had a homer, double and two R.B.I., put it, “Quickest to 27 outs and check out to get as many runs across the board that we are able to to assist our team win and get to our bullpen quick as we are able to.”
He struggled initially after the Padres acquired him from Milwaukee on the Aug. 2 trading deadline. Things got so bad that Melvin removed him from the closer’s role to present him time to regroup and work with the team’s pitching coach, Ruben Niebla, on some fixes. The past few weeks, he has as a rule looked just like the four-time All-Star he’s.
“We kept his workload at a minimum” throughout the regular season, Melvin said of Hader’s early entrance. “He saved those variety of things for the postseason. He was all for it. He knew that any runner on and two out he was going to be coming in for 4 outs, and he did what we expected him to do.”
Truth be told, although the Dodgers had won 15 of their past 20 against the Padres and 24 of 29 dating to the tip of August 2021, the Padres didn’t panic after losing Game 1. As an alternative, the Padres said they believed that after they got past that game, the pitching matchups would favor them for the remainder of the series.
Roberts late Wednesday named the right-hander Tony Gonsolin to begin Game 3 Friday in San Diego. Gonsolin has pitched only two innings since Aug. 23 while recovering from a right forearm strain. The Padres will counter with the lefty Blake Snell, who, until his Game 2 start within the wild-card series against the Mets, had been on a roll.
The query now becomes, has the road in front of the 111-win Dodgers turn into a bit more uphill heading to San Diego? The Padres are playing well, their bullpen has been outstanding (up to now the Dodgers are 4 for 32 against six San Diego relievers) and so they were fifth within the majors this yr with an average attendance of 36,931.
They’ve not hosted a postseason game at home in Petco Park since 2006 and the atmosphere on Friday night for Game 3 is predicted to be electric.
“They’ve been waiting for this for awhile, and so they’ve supported us all yr,” Melvin said. “It looks like every game we get between 35,000 and 40,000 people there. The drama that took place throughout the season, I feel we had 10, 12 walkoffs, or something like that, and so they were an enormous a part of it.”
As for the goose, it remained in shallow right field for a batter with the Padres reliever Nick Martinez on the mound before the grounds crew made its move to capture the bird throughout the pitching change as Hader warmed. The primary attempt failed when the goose took flight toward the Dodgers dugout. It veered left, causing Bellinger, within the on-deck circle, to duck. Finally, the goose was captured and faraway from the sphere for its safety.
“That was pretty gnarly on the market, huh?” Machado said. “He didn’t wish to go anywhere. I feel he was hurt when he landed, so I form of didn’t like seeing that. I assume it was good luck for us.”