The Padres took game one against the Dodgers on Monday night, backed by a strong bullpen performance and Austin Hedges going yard.
When the revised MLB schedule was released in July, the calendar indicated that this particular stretch of games was going to be critical for the Padres to navigate through, if they had intentions of playing in the postseason. They’ve taken both series thus far against the Diamondbacks, but after a disappointing ending to the first series with the Dodgers, they had a chance for redemption.
The caveat was that the Padres were going with Luis Perdomo‘s Monday night starter and were playing four games on the road in LA. Regardless of fans, Dodger Stadium has a certain aura that can be intimidating for the opposition.
As noted, Perdomo was expected to start Tuesday’s game, but the team announced on Monday that he would pitch Monday’s opener with Garrett Richards going in game two. And Perdomo’s one inning of work went about as expected. He walked the leadoff batter, sending all of Padres Twitter into a frenzy, wondering why the heck starting this guy was a good idea in the first place.
Later in the inning, Cody Bellinger singled into right field to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead before Dustin May even took the mound. But truth be told, the damage could have been far worse. As noted, May looked phenomenal against the Padres at Petco Park. His cut-fastball and slider have so much sweeping motion that it can make opposing batters look foolish.
And through the first several innings, he was following the script. The Padres, outside of a Manny Machado double, could do little in the way of getting guys on base. But the team’s bullpen, led by a brilliant effort from Cal Quantrill, who should be getting consideration to start five days from now, set the tone for what was about to happen in the fifth inning.
Austin Hedges has had his fair share of well-documented struggles during his time in a Padres uniform. Excellent pitch framing and defensive abilities, but he can’t hit water if he fell off a boat. This year may very well be his last with the team, but he took May deep to center in the fifth inning, tying the game at one.
Eric Hosmer’s return was a welcome sight on Saturday, allowing Jake Cronenworth to shift over to second base for regular playing time, and the former knocked in the team’s second run of the game, giving them a 2-1 advantage late in the game. With exception to Craig Stammen walking a couple of batters, the bullpen was pretty dominant, sans Kirby Yates though.
According to reports, the Padres closer is dealing with body soreness, which is not exactly a comforting feeling. But that’s where depth plays a key role this season and a big reason why general manager AJ Preller went out and traded for a guy like Emilio Pagan and signed Drew Pomeranz.
Bullpens can make or break your season, and they are vital in the postseason. The Padres have managed to pull off perhaps the strangest of feats, taking all game ones in every series thus far. Tonight, they will face Ross Stripling, who allowed four earned runs over 5.2 innings against the Padres last time out. And oddly enough, Richards opposed the Dodgers hurler in their last matchup as well.
Outside of the first series, the Padres have dropped every second game of the series, so a win on Tuesday night will guarantee at least a split with the Dodgers, with obviously the potential to take the series or…dare I say sweep.