The San Diego Padres are moving on to the NLCS for the first time since 1998. For all the drama this team has overcome in 2022, their journey deep into the postseason is well-deserved. For all the trash talk they endured at the hands of Los Angeles Dodgers fans, the triumph is even sweeter.
While the Padres admirably came up with clutch hits, played great defense, and battled with their pitching performances, there’s no denying the Dodgers suffered from a few self-inflicted wounds throughout this series.
Dodgers fans are pointing the finger at manager Dave Roberts, who, while he couldn’t control the team forgetting how to hit with runners in scoring position, didn’t exactly help with his decision making either. A manager’s job is to navigate the unexpected shortcomings and occurrences.
Roberts, time and time again, whether it’s a script he’s following, orders from the front office, or his own intuition, has failed to press the right buttons. For that, Padres fans have every reason to be thankful because even they’ll admit they needed all the help they could get against the Dodgers.
3 Dave Roberts decisions that help the Padres upset the Dodgers in NLDS
3. Pinch-Hitting Austin Barnes in Game 2
With the Dodgers trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth in Game 2, Nick Martinez got the first two outs of the inning before Gavin Lux singled to right field to bring the tying run to the plate. It was Trayce Thompson.
Padres manager Bob Melvin countered with Josh Hader, who got himself into trouble by walking Thompson to put the tying run aboard. With Cody Bellinger due up, Robert made the switch and called upon … backup catcher Austin Barnes. Uh … what?
Roberts could’ve sent wily veteran Chris Taylor or even electric rookie Miguel Vargas up to face Hader. Instead, Barnes, who, by the way, didn’t start Game 2 with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, was tasked with the high-pressure situation despite only hitting .212 on the year. Batting average isn’t usually a metric baseball fans live or die by anymore, but it’s important when you need a hit! Taylor, on the other hand, had a career 3-for-8 mark against Hader and, despite a poor season at the plate as he battled through injuries, was undoubtedly the better option on paper.
Barnes flew out to end the inning. Hader shut the door in the ninth and the Padres claimed home-field advantage.