Dodgers silence the Juan Soto, Padres hype in dominating sweep

Slam Diego.

Like being hit in the body by the Dodgers as usual.

Cheating Diego.

Like another empty challenge in the National League West.

Shine Diego.

As in, once again, falling short of the hype.

Earlier in the weekend, the Padres were baseball’s biggest storyline after a massive trade hiatus focused on their blockbuster takeover of Juan Soto.

In the end, however, the Dodgers had made their own resounding statement, silencing the Padres again in a thorough three-game game that was cut short by Sunday’s 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium.

“We just played good baseball all around,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It was a full house, the fans were there from the first place. And we reacted and performed well in those three games.”

As they had after their wins on Friday and Saturday, the Dodgers downplayed the importance of this weekend’s meeting, which saw them extend their winning streak to eight and improve to 8-2 against the Padres this season.

It’s still only August. The Padres, left without star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., are still not at full strength.

Just a month and a half ago, the teams were tied in the table. And if the Padres play better by October, there’s little doubt their revamped squad can pose a real threat.

But right now — after a weekend in which the Dodgers outnumbered the Padres 20-4, beat them 33-12 and were behind after just one inning in 27 — the two franchises still feel worlds apart, separated by 151 /2 games in the NL West.

“They always want to win division games,” said Freddie Freeman, who had two RBIs on Sunday. “And we took care of business in this series.”

In fact, the Dodgers’ superstars shone brighter this weekend. While Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Freeman and Will Smith combined had 19 hits and seven RBIs, the Padres’ primary quartet of Soto, Manny Machado, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury had just six hits and two RBIs.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson throws for the plate in the second inning.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson pitches during the second inning on Sunday.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Dodgers’ pitching team took a closer look and started better in all three games — including Tyler Anderson’s seven scoreless innings in the finals — plus more than 10 innings of one-run ball from the bullpen.

The Dodgers’ roster also looked more menacing overall.

The team continued to compensate for injuries on the hill (Yency Almonte became the latest on Sunday’s injured list, although his sore right elbow is believed not to be serious).

The Dodgers also received major contributions from the collapsing bats of Cody Bellinger (who hit two solo homers on Sunday) and Max Muncy (who won three for eight over the weekend).

“It’s like we’re breathing down their necks the whole game,” Roberts said. “If they make a mistake, we’re ready to capitalize on it.”

Was it the best streak the Dodgers (75-33) have played this season?

“Given the circumstances,” Roberts said, “I think it was up there.”

Freeman added, “I feel like we’ve been doing this type of show for a couple of months now, really.”

The Padres (61-50), on the other hand, suffered one of their most disheartening performances.

While Soto was doing an in-game interview with ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball show during the third inning, Bellinger hit the first of his home runs to open the goal.

“Stay here!” shouted the Padres’ newest superstar in vain as the ball sailed over the fence.

Later in the game, when Padres chairman Peter Seidler joined the television show, even he admitted that despite all the excitement surrounding his franchise, the Dodgers “remain the dragon on the freeway that we’re trying to kill.”

Maybe the Padres will find a way in the future. They added Soto to a lineup that already has Tatis and Machado in long-term jail. They also renewed their staff ace, Joe Musgrove, who did not field in this series before the trade deadline.

Roberts, a former Padres player and coach who still lives in San Diego during the offseason, said he can sense that this is “as much optimism as they’ve had in their organization’s history.”

But the rift between them and the Dodgers only widened, with Roberts’ current team once again beating out their latest challenger in NL West.

“I think it’s something that we’re used to as far as someone trying to throw us out of our seat or trip us,” Roberts said. “It’s good that people want to come after you. It brings out the best in you. We appreciate that every time we have a disappointment, people are ready to pounce, we focus on that for a whole season.”

And whether intentional or not, the Dodgers’ intensity seemed particularly heightened this weekend — they needed just three games to provide a quick response to the Padres’ deadline-craze of moves and deals.

“The goal is to take three of them and then see how they react,” said Roberts. “I’m just glad we’re playing good baseball.” Dodgers silence the Juan Soto, Padres hype in dominating sweep

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