The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to avoid one of their most disappointing postseason exits when they face the San Diego Padres Saturday evening in Game 4 of a National League Division Series at Petco Park.
The Dodgers trail the Padres two games to one in the best-of-five series following Friday’s 2-1 loss after winning a franchise-record 111 games in the regular season, 22 more than the Padres.
“The core of this group has been in this position before and we’re going to approach it like it’s the way it is — it’s win or go home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, referring to his team’s two games to one deficit in an NLDS against the San Francisco Giants in 2021, when they rebounded to win the final two games and the series.
“We’ve got to play better baseball. When we do have opportunities to cash in, we’ve got to take advantage of them.”
The Dodgers were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base in each of their last two games, both losses.
Roberts said the Dodgers are “being hyperaggressive early in counts and not staying on the ball” with runners in scoring position.
“They’re getting us with spin,” Roberts said. “They’re getting us on the outside part of the plate. We’re not given really any opportunities to make mistakes and that’s more specific to the pen.”
When asked why the Dodgers are scoreless in 14 innings against San Diego relievers in the series, Roberts responded, “I don’t know.”
“I think you’ve got to give those guys some credit, but on the other side of things, we’ve still got to find a way to create base runners, create opportunities,” Roberts said. “And then when we do get them, regardless if it’s a starter or the guy in the pen, we’ve got to find a way to push him across.”
Tyler Anderson will pitch for the Dodgers. Anderson was 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts against the Padres in the regular season, when he was 15-5, and is 6-3 with a 2.36 ERA in 15 games lifetime against San Diego, including one relief appearance. The Dodgers were 20-8 in Anderson’s 28 regular-season starts.
The left-hander had career bests in victories, ERA (2.57), walks plus hits allowed per inning (1.00) and opponents’ batting average (.221).
Anderson’s fellow 2022 All-Star Game selection, right-hander Joe Musgrove, will pitch for the Padres, six days after limiting the New York Mets to one hit over seven innings in a 6-0 victory that gave San Diego a two games to one victory in their best-of-three wild-card series, eliminating a team with 101 regular-season victories.
“We feel great every time he’s on the mound,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said. “Pitching in front of his hometown crowd I know is going to be exciting for him.”
The Padres were 19-11 in the 30 regular-season starts by the 2011 graduate of Grossmont High School in El Cajon, who was 10-7 with a 2.93 ERA during the regular season.
Musgrove said his performance against the Mets will “help settle the nerves a little bit.”
“I think that outing in New York, a high-leverage moment and crazy atmosphere and big market like New York, I think that’ll pay off a little bit,” Musgrove said during a news conference before Friday’s game.
Musgrove said he expects Dodgers batters to be patient.
“They’re going to sit in their zone until they get in a two-strike count, and then they’ll expand a little bit,” said Musgrove, who was 0-2 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers during the regular season and is 0-6 with a 4.04 ERA in nine starts against them lifetime.
“For all of our starters … it’s going to be about getting strike one. This lineup and this team turns into a completely different threat when you’re ahead in the count and controlling the count as opposed to falling behind 1-0, 2-0 and having to work back in. It allows them to see a lot more pitches and ultimately do more damage on you the third time around having seen 10-plus pitches in those first two at-bats,” he said.
The game is set to begin at 6:37 p.m. and will be televised by FS1. Game 5, if necessary, would be played Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
The Padres opened the scoring Friday in the first inning. Juan Soto doubled with one out and scored on Jake Croneworth’s two-out single. Grisham homered off reliever Andrew Heaney leading off the fourth.
The Dodgers scored their run in the fifth. Trayce Thompson led off with a single. The next batter, Austin Barnes, doubled. Mookie Betts followed with a sacrifice fly that also advanced Barnes to third. However, Trea Turner fouled out to Manny Machado, San Diego’s third baseman, and Freddie Freeman grounded out to end the inning.
Max Muncy’s one-out double in the sixth prompted Melvin to relieve starter Blake Snell with Nick Martinez, who struck out Justin Turner and threw out Chris Taylor on a soft ground ball to end the inning.
Luis Garcia struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh, Thompson and pinch-hitter Gavin Lux, and got Betts to line out to Grisham, San Diego’s center fielder, for the third out.
The next Padres reliever, Robert Suarez, allowed a single to the first batter he faced, Trea Turner, then retired the next three, striking out Max Muncy to end the eighth.
None of the three Dodgers who faced Josh Hader in the ninth hit the ball out of the infield. Justin Turner fouled out to Machado. Hader struck out Taylor and Thompson to end the inning for his second save in two postseason save opportunities in 2022.
Tony Gonsolin, the first of six Dodgers pitchers, was charged with the loss, allowing one run and four hits in 1 1/3 innings.
“I just think he wasn’t sharp, getting behind, stressed in the first inning,” Roberts said. “Second inning gives up a couple hits, and I felt at that point in time we had length with (Andrew) Heaney, and it was time to go to him at that point.”
Snell got the victory, allowing one run and five hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking six and walking two.
The game was San Diego’s first postseason game at Petco Park with fans since 2006. The Padres’ only postseason games at Petco Park since 2006 before Friday were three wild-card series games against the St. Louis Cardinals in 2020 that fans were not permitted to attend in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Melvin said the support from the crowd announced at 45,137 was a huge help “without a doubt, especially as the game went along.”
“All our relievers felt that,” Melvin said. “You don’t see (pitches thrown at) 100 miles an hour often, especially out of three guys in a row, so I’m sure it had a big say in it.”