With NLDS upset, Padres show they’ve closed gap on the Dodgers

This was the day the Padres and Dodgers truly became rivals, the moment feisty little brother rose up and embarrassed glamorous big brother with a heartiness and persistence that no money can buy and no manager can teach .

As thousands of Padres fans screamed hoarsely and waved rally towels in a whirl of golden cheer at Petco Park, the Padres rallied for five runs in a crazy seventh inning on Saturday and held on to a 5-3 win over the Dodgers, to win the National League Division Series in four stunning games. The Padres punished Dodger reliefs Tommy Kahnle and Yency Almonte without fear of a team that had won 111 games in the regular season and dominated them throughout the season and for most of their history.

“Whatever happens in the regular season doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you win 111 games. It doesn’t matter if you win 88 games,” Justin Turner said as the players and staff hugged for what may be the last time this season. “When you get to the playoffs, a short streak is about winning three games and they accomplished that.”

The Padres will continue in the NL Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies while the Dodgers will go home wondering what they did wrong. Was it because you didn’t get another prime starter or close before the close? By not realizing Cody Bellinger’s waning skills more quickly? Because of manager Dave Roberts’ many controversial decisions when using his bench and bullpen?

All of this contributed to their downfall to some degree. You’ll have plenty of time to analyze that as the Padres go on and enjoy their status as top dogs in a rivalry born during this series.

“You have to give the Padres a lot of credit. They played really well. They’ve had great bats all series and made big pitches when needed and they played better than us,” said pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who added that he thinks he wants to play again next season. “It’s hard to admit sometimes, but that’s the truth. They just beat us.”

The Dodgers and Padres became Californians a little over a decade apart. The Dodgers came first and broke the hearts of the Brooklynites by moving to Los Angeles ahead of the 1958 season. The Padres were formed in 1969 as an expansion team. Because they’re neighbors — at least in California auto culture — and because they play in the same division in the National League, it would be easy to assume they’d be natural rivals.

That wasn’t true, as the heavy-spending Dodgers have largely dominated over the years.

The teams were opponents in the 2020 NL Division Series played in the COVID-19 resistant bubble set up in Arlington, Texas. There were no fans to bring noise and life to the games. The Dodgers flicked the Padres away like a pesky gnat, beating them 23-9 in a three-game sweep.

This gap has closed. Her NLDS that year was dramatic, tense, and fraught with thought-provoking decisions — everything postseason baseball should be. Having fans in the stands transformed games into the kind of community experiences that COVID had made impossible for two years, games where you might not know the people sitting in your row when you arrive, but they do when you do Consider departure as a family.

Fans in Los Angeles transformed Dodger Stadium into a vivid sea of ​​blue during Games 1 and 2. Fans in San Diego turned downtown into a party, pouring into Petco Park in the team’s gold and brown colors and chanting “Beat LA.” and erupted in a raucous celebration when Josh Hader knocked out Freddie Freeman for the finale. The players hugged, waved to fans and danced in the rain, which dampened the field but didn’t dampen the fans’ spirits.

Because the Padres geographically restricted ticket sales to certain counties and areas, there were few blue-clad Dodger fans at Petco Park for Games 3 and 4. For the Padres, who last welcomed a crowd to a playoff home game in 2006, their own crowd was a happy novelty.

The San Diego Padres celebrate a 5-3 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS on October 15, 2022.

The San Diego Padres and their fans at Petco Park celebrate a 5-3 win over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS that angrily decided the series.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

“Yes, normally during the regular season when you play the Dodgers at home, I would see half blue on the crowd,” Padre’s shortstop Ha-Seong Kim said ahead of Saturday’s game. “But [Friday] At night seeing the full house with the yellow towels gave me chills and it gave me a very proud moment to be a padre.

The Padres, led by majority owner Peter Seidler – grandson of former Dodger owner Walter O’Malley and nephew of Peter O’Malley, Walter’s son and successor – no longer see themselves as a small market team. They spent big bucks on Fernando Tatis Jr. (who was injured that season and later suspended 80 games for using a banned performance-enhancing drug), Manny Machado and again to get Juan Soto, the 2020 NL batting champion and a two- Mal All-Star, from Washington just before this year’s trading close. Soto’s run-scoring single in the seventh inning on Saturday tied the score 3-3.

They no longer see themselves as the scruffy little brother of the mighty Dodgers. They backed that up by playing like worthy rivals, stifling the Dodgers’ offense in the first three games and coming up Saturday with the big inning the Dodgers could never muster.

Retired pitcher Jake Peavy, who won the 2007 Cy Young Award during his eight-year residency in San Diego, felt the excitement here when he arrived in town to throw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4. He called San Diego “a major player, big market, big fan base” because of the owners’ commitment to excellence.

“I think it’s about time we started talking about San Diego as a sports city,” he said. “We lost the Chargers. This is the only game in town. The Padre fans are absolutely showing up, from Del Mar on down. I’ve been everywhere since I’ve been here for the past few days. It feels good. It feels electric.”

It felt like a rivalry, with the Padres at the helm for now and the once-mighty Dodgers not so powerful anymore.

“Our goal every October is to win a World Series,” said Chris Taylor. “It’s not about winning 111 games or winning our division or winning most games. It’s about winning the last game of the year and we didn’t do that and it sucks.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-10-15/dodgers-elliott-for-sunday-a-m-web With NLDS upset, Padres show they’ve closed gap on the Dodgers

Emma Bowman

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