Dodgers turn their Juan Soto loss into a win over Padres
Dave Roberts insisted it would not be a litmus test.
After the beating his team inflicted on Friday, maybe he should have.
In a night that began with an emotional on-field ceremony commemorating the late Vin Scully and which was set to showcase a supposedly revamped San Diego Padres roster after Tuesday’s close, the Dodgers instead drove to an 8-1 win and extended their latest dominance over the rivalry as they claim their sixth straight win.
“Obviously, outside of the ballplayers, the anticipation is there,” Roberts said. “But the message from our side was consistent, we just focused on ourselves and played good baseball.”
That’s what the Dodgers did in the series opener.
They batted for four carries at the end of the first and twice benefited from a misplay by Brandon Drury at third base to get in front.
They doubled their lead with four more runs in the second, burying Padres starter Sean Manaea after two runs in doubles from Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger.
From there, they salted away the series opener, receiving five scoreless innings from starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin and little late resistance from their visitors, who got in high on the series from their many deadline moves.
“They’ve definitely gotten better,” said shortstop Trea Turner. “But we took care of business tonight.”
For Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Drury – the Padres’ four high-profile newcomers – it was the first time they lost to the Dodgers in a tan and yellow uniform.
However, Friday was nothing new for their Padres teammates.
The Dodgers are 6-2 against the Padres this year and have won 15 of their last 17 games from last year.
They extended their lead in NL West to 131/2 games, a seemingly insurmountable advantage with the regular season still two months away.
And, intentionally or not, the Dodgers (73-33) delivered what felt like an emphatic rebuke of the Padres’ deadline scramble – highlighted by them outbidding the Dodgers in a blockbuster move for Soto.
“It is what it is,” Roberts said when asked about the Soto trade. “He’s a great player. It certainly makes our job a little bit harder, a lot harder. But we can’t do anything. We will not run from it.”
The crowd at Dodger Stadium certainly didn’t.
Barely a week after Soto serenaded with “Future Dodger!” Visiting as a member of the Nationals, the 23-year-old outfielder was greeted by a chorus of boos on his first visit on Friday.
It was one of the few times a sell-out crowd of 52,714 did anything other than cheer.
After attending the pregame ceremony — where Roberts led the stadium by reciting Scully’s famous line, “It’s time for Dodger baseball” — they came to life when Drury threw away a bases-loaded grounder in the first and the first both of the game allowed runs to score.
They were back on their feet moments later when Hanser Alberto two-hoppered past Drury and hit down the line for a two-run double, then again in the third when Taylor, playing his first game in a month, due to a foot fracture and Bellinger pinned two run doubles.
Gonsolin, on the other hand, settled down after a struggling first two innings and completed his fifth start of at least five shutout innings this season.
And the game was so far out of reach by the seventh that Soto was replaced for a couple of innings of rest.
Friday’s result aside, the Padres (61-48) still appear to be a much bigger threat than they were when they last visited a month ago, when in a four-game streak in which their offense totaled just eight runs, were almost defeated.
“You certainly have to give a lot of credit to Padres property, Peter Seidler,” said Roberts, a former Padres player and coach who said he’s never seen the franchise get such a buzz. “When people talk about the Dodgers and the Padres, the National League West, big trades, spending money on great players — I think we all win.”
The Dodgers don’t seem infallible either, as their pitching staff took another hit on Friday when pitcher Clayton Kershaw was put on the injured list for back pain — a problem the Dodgers hope the left-hander will no longer have can pause than about a month.
“He’s certainly frustrated, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Roberts said. “I think his only focus is to do whatever it takes to get him back healthy as soon as possible.”
For now, however, any thoughts of the Padres challenging the Dodgers’ NL dominance will have to wait.
Your lineup could be more impressive. Your list is undoubtedly deeper.
But on Friday, the Dodgers’ recent agony against the Padres continued. Not even a revamped Padres squad could prevent more of the same.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-05/dodgers-padres-recap-juan-soto-mlb Dodgers turn their Juan Soto loss into a win over Padres