I predicted the Dodgers series to be a hard-fought affair that would likely come down to the bullpens. After losing the first game 2-0 to the Dodgers, largely because Bud Black didn’t turn to his bullpen–namely lefty Joe Thatcher–quick enough–the Padres bounced back and took the last two games, winning the finale 3-2. Joe Torre returned the favor on Black’s error in the ninth inning of the finale, leaving lefty setup man George Sherrill in to face righty Oscar Salazar with dominating righthanded closer Jonathan Broxton ready to go in the bullpen. Salazar drove home the winning run on a single.
The series victory pushed the Padres to seven games up on the Dodgers. The Giants are now firmly in second, 3 1/2 back, while the Rockies are a distant nine out of first (although you never know with these Colorado teams).
The Padres host the Florida Marlins in a three-game set next, where they’ll have some tough pitching matchups, running a gauntlet that includes Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson. The team will get newly acquired Miguel Tejada before the series; hopefully he’ll provide something of an offensive boost.
Meanwhile, the Giants and Dodgers will have another series, one that could either leave the Dodgers as non-contenders or put both teams five or six back. If both the Dodgers and Padres sweep their respective series, San Diego will open up a gaping 6 1/2 game lead.
Following that series, the Padres will visit the Dodgers for what could promise to be another tough series–hopefully, Bud Black won’t make the same mistake twice.