At 7:10 p.m., around the time Padres pitcher Dillon Overton threw an 88-mph fastball over the plate, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was no longer welcome at Petco Park. By that time, he was already driving toward his home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, about 25 miles north of the ballpark, according to a team official.
Suspended for one game after his confrontation with San Diego manager Andy Green on Friday, Roberts was barred from attending his team’s 8-0 victory over their hapless hosts. He missed Rich Hill recording his first hit in a regular-season game since 2009 — and the first two-hit game of his career.
He missed Corey Seager and Justin Turner trade back-to-back homers in the fifth inning. He missed Chris Taylor wallop his third grand slam of the season. He missed his team’s third victory in a row, and another brick in Hill’s rebuilding effort, complete with 11 strikeouts.
Hill (5-4, 4.00 earned-run average) blanked the Padres for seven innings and limited them to four hits. Unable to pitch beyond the fifth inning in his first nine starts, Hill has now reached the seventh in his last two outings. He has benefited from a modified delivery, operating with mechanics similar to the stretch position. The Dodgers (55-28) would be delighted if Hill can continue his climb back toward the form he showed in 2016.
“He’s throwing the ball like Rich Hill does when he’s on,” said bench coach Bob Geren, who managed in Roberts’ place.
Major League Baseball announced Roberts’ suspension on Saturday afternoon. The incident occurred after Green criticized Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood in front of Roberts. The umpires heard Wood threaten to hit Padres outfielder Jose Pirela for stealing signs at second base. Roberts, Green and Wood were all fined. Roberts did not protest his suspension.
“It’s what Major League Baseball felt was the right course of action,” Roberts said. “So I support it.”
On Saturday, Roberts said he had not spoken to Green. He did not intend to do so, either. He also explained he did not seek Green out after the ejections on Friday. The jostling between the two prompted both benches to clear. Roberts could be seen shouting at Green, “You and me!” as the two teams formed a scrum near the plate. “I just didn’t appreciate some of the comments made toward our pitcher,” Roberts said. “That’s all.”
With Roberts away from the scene on Saturday, control of the game belonged to Geren. Roberts met with both Geren and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt before the game to form an outline for the evening’s strategy. This did not fall far outside the norm — both Geren and Honeycutt already play significant roles in the team’s planning.
“Outside of that, I’m just going to leave it to Bob and to Rick to navigate the game,” Roberts said.
The pitching matchup underscored the disparity between these two clubs. The Dodgers signed Hill to a $48-million contract over the winter. Seattle cut Overton loose a couple weeks ago, because he was not capable of holding a spot in their bullpen. San Diego claimed him off waivers and brought him up for his first outing as a Padre on Saturday.
The Dodgers squeezed a run out of Overton in the first. With the bases loaded, Logan Forsythe chopped a grounder to third base. Padres infielder Chase d’Arnaud scooped it up, but his throw pulled first baseman Wil Myers off the bag.
Three innings later, Hill came through at the plate. Hitting has never been his specialty. His swing is hardy but ungainly. Turner described it as “sheer entertainment.” Hill came up as a Cub, but he moved to the American League when Baltimore acquired him in 2009. From 2010 to 2015, he did not take an at-bat in the majors. He went 0 for 12 in 2016.
The drought ended on Saturday. There were two outs and runners at the corners. The Padres had intentionally walked outfielder Trayce Thompson to face Hill. It was the statistically obvious decision — only Hill refused to cooperate.
Down in an 0-2 count, Hill whacked an 88-mph fastball back up the middle. The grounder rolled past shortstop Erick Aybar and trickled into the outfield. Hill sprinted through first base on the RBI single. He would flare another single into left in the sixth inning.
“I think the ball just found the bat,” Hill said. “There wasn’t too much skill to that.”
By that point, the Dodgers’ lead had grown to four. Seager and Turner feasted on Overton in the fifth. Seager unloaded on an 88-mph fastball and deposited a solo homer a dozen rows beyond the fence in right. Two pitches later, Turner lashed another tepid fastball into left. The ball smashed off the Western Metal Supply Co. building for his sixth homer since returning from the disabled list on June 9.
Hill made the four-run lead feel insurmountable. A bigger lead felt like overkill, but that did not stop the Dodgers. With the bases loaded In the seventh, Taylor destroyed a 92-mph fastball from Padres reliever Craig Stammen. Roberts was not there to see it. But he could hear all about it when he returned to the stadium on Sunday.