Stellar pitching, defense key to Dodgers’ NLDS sweep
ARLINGTON, Texas — The San Diego Padres, the upstart club oozing talent and swagger, were supposed to be the biggest challenge on the path to the World Series for the Dodgers. They were poised to prove they were championship contenders. But they were short-handed without their two best starting pitchers for the teams’ National League Division Series and the Dodgers showed no mercy.
The Dodgers steamrolled their budding NL West rivals 12-3 in Game 3 at Globe Life Field on Thursday to complete a three-game series sweep and keep their undefeated postseason record intact. They advanced to face the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series. Game 1 is Monday, also at Globe Life Park but with fans in the stands for the first time in 2020. Los Angeles, the National League’s top seed, will be the home team riding an eight-game winning streak.
“When we win the day, it’s a good feeling, but we still know what’s in front of us,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “We still know there’s a lot of work to be done.”
One of the looming questions for the Dodgers entering this series was this: Would they, after leading the majors with 118 home runs during the regular season, struggle to score in this home-run-depressing ballpark? This place plays big. The Dodgers saw firsthand when they visited in late August.
The answer was no. They slugged one homer in the three games but scored 23 runs anyway. They took their walks. They moved runners with singles the other way. They cracked doubles to the gaps. They lifted sacrifice flies, forced errors and even executed a crucial double-steal in Game 2. They manufactured runs by applying constant pressure. They adjusted their method of offensive destruction.
Hernández: Dodgers stay perfect in postseason, but their ominous closer situation looms
The Dodgers are the best team in the National League, but that alone doesn’t always translate to a place in the World Series.
Which is why the other part of their October odyssey is critical.
Luck is on their side.
They continued their postseason stampede Thursday night by overwhelming the division rival San Diego Padres, their 12-3 victory at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, completing a sweep in their NL Division Series.
The Dodgers ran their postseason record to 5-0, with two wins coming against a Milwaukee Brewers club that was one of the least-worthy playoff teams in baseball history and the last three against an injury-depleted Padres squad that didn’t have the pitching to compete with them.
The triumphs have been more perfunctory than noteworthy, except in one regard: They will enter the NL Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves with the justification to remove Kenley Jansen as their closer.
Dodgers beat Padres 12-3, sweep NLDS
In his first appearance of the postseason, Dylan Floro faced one batter above the minimum in the ninth inning to close out the Dodgers’ 12-3 rout of the NL West rival Padres and secure the team’s 14th appearance in a league championship series.
Watch this space for updates on the Dodgers’ National League Division Series sweep from Times reporters Jorge Castillo, Dylan Hernández and others.
Other notes from the game:
After opening the postseason with an 0 for 11 skid, Will Smith went 5 for 6 with two doubles and three RBIs Thursday night. No Dodger had ever logged as many hits in a playoff game.
But wait, there’s more.
The Padres used 11 pitchers in the game. No other team in playoff history had even used as many as 10.
Will Smith makes history; Dodgers are three outs away from NLCS berth
Will Smith doubled with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, setting a Dodgers record for most hits in a playoff with five. He is also the first catcher in history with a five-hit playoff game.
Smith’s double scored two. Cody Bellinger followed with a two-RBI triple.
The Dodgers head to the bottom of the ninth leading the Padres 12-3. Three more outs by a Dodgers pitcher will secure the team’s return to the NLCS.
Padres have used 10 pitchers against Dodgers
The Dodgers have loaded the bases in the eighth. Padres manager Jayce Tingler just summoned former Angel Garrett Richards from the bullpen.
It was the ninth time Tingler made a pitching change. The Padres have used 10 pitchers in this game, a historic mark.
Also worth noting the Dodgers have been much slower to call in help.
Julio Urías throws five solid innings for Dodgers
Did Julio Urías nail his audition for a rotation spot in the NLCS?
We’ll find out later. For now, let’s look at his impressive line against the Padres: Five innings, six strikeouts, one walk and 46 of 68 pitches thrown for strikes. Urías balked in the only run he gave up.
Urías induced nine whiffs, four each on his mid-90s fastball and low-80s curve. He also generated a lot of soft contact. Of 11 pitches the Padres put in play, only two had an exit velocity higher than 88 mph.
Urías turned the ball over to Blake Treinen after issuing a two-out walk to Trent Grisham in the seventh.
Urías has only made one postseason start since debuting as a 19-year-old four years ago: A 3 ⅔ inning outing in Game 4 of the Dodgers’ NLCS against the Chicago Cubs in 2016. He gave up four runs and walked two. The Cubs, who had trailed in the series 2-1, went on to win that game and two more on their way to the World Series.
The Dodgers lead 8-3 in the eighth.
Padres’ Emilio Pagan retires Dodgers in order in seventh
The Dodgers were just retired in order for the first time since...the first inning.
Chris Taylor flew out on the first pitch he saw from new Padres reliever Emilio Pagan in the seventh. Mookie Betts then struck out on four pitches. And Corey Seager grounded out to first baseman Eric Hosmer one pitch later.
The Dodgers’ Julio Urías remained in the game to pitch in the bottom of the inning.
Padres score on a balk but Dodgers still lead 8-3
Manny Machado singled, Eric Hosmer reached second base on an AJ Pollock error and Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías balked, leading the Padres to score in the sixth inning. They hadn’t plate a run since the second.
Urías retired the three batters after Hosmer. The Dodgers lead 8-3.
10 straight retired by Dodgers’ Julio Urías
Julio Urías’ scoreless streak has been extending to 6 ⅓ innings. He has retired 10 batters since taking the mound with two outs in the second inning.
Urías’ curveball has been a reliable weapon. He has thrown 14 breaking balls among his 41 pitches. Five of them have been called strikes, including the ones on which Austin Nola and Trent Grisham struck out in the fifth.
Clay Bellinger almost missed son’s phenomenal play
Mookie Betts lofted a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. The Dodgers lead the Padres 8-2 now.
It seems like the right time to point you to a story written by The Times’ Jack Harris. He caught up with Cody Bellinger’s dad, Clay, and learned the elder Bellinger nearly missed Wednesday night’s home-run robbery.
Dodgers’ Julio Urías has retired all Padres batters faced
Julio Urías isn’t inducing an astonishing number of swings and misses but that’s not a problem for the Dodgers reliever. He has thrown thrown first-pitch strikes to five of seven batters and retired every Padre he has seen since entering the game with two outs in the second inning.
Urías has thrown 5 ⅓ innings over two appearances without giving up a run this postseason.
The Dodgers are still leading 7-2 in the fifth.
Mookie Betts leads with double, scores Dodgers’ seventh run of game
Four at-bats and a pitching change after he did his signature slapping celebration, Mookie Betts scored on Will Smith’s two-out single to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2 in the fourth inning.
Betts, who often mimes smacking an invisible backside when he reaches base, started the inning with a double off Padres prospect Luis Patiño.
The Dodgers are 5 for 13 with runners in scoring position tonight.
Joc Pederson gets first hit of postseason, extends Dodgers lead to 6-2
Yes, it appears the Padres may indeed be spiraling. Joc Pederson just shot a single over the glove of a leaping (and shifted) Manny Machado into left field for a two-out, two-run single. Pederson’s first hit of the postseason gave the Dodgers a 6-2 lead.
Pederson had to battle back from an 0-2 count. The pitch he hit to the opposite field was a Craig Stammen slider down and away.
Before the single, AJ Pollock stole second base to put runners in scoring position.
Chris Taylor made the last out of the inning, which lasted 25 minutes and required three Padres pitchers.
AJ Pollock extends Dodgers’ lead to 4-2
AJ Pollock swatted a two-out single off Craig Stammen to drive in the Dodgers’ third run of the inning.
Are the Padres spiraling?
Dodgers take back lead after Fernando Tatis Jr’s error, Justin Turner’s hit
Fernando Tatis Jr. made an impressive diving play on Corey Seager’s sharp groundball but his attempt at heroics fell short. Tatis Jr. threw wide of first base, allowing Seager to reach and Mookie Betts to score from second base, tying the game 2-2.
Betts, who walked to lead off the inning, had made it to second on Padres starter Adrian Morejon’s wild pitch.
A pitching change followed Seager’s single. Justin Turner then softly knocked ann RBI single to left field. Turner’s hit was the 64th of his playoff career, most in Dodgers history.
Padres take advantage of missed call, lead Dodgers 2-1
After loading the bases with one out in the seond, Dodgers reliever Adam Kolarek received no favors from home plate umpire Bill Miller. In a 3-1 count, Miller called a ball on a pitch that appeared to hit inside Jake Cronenworth’s strike zone. The bases-loaded walk tied the game 1-1.
After a groundout, Trent Grisham smacked an infield single to drive in Wil Myers for a 2-1 Padres lead.
Julio Urías replaced Kolarek and struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. to end the second inning.
Dodgers’ Adam Kolarek replaces Dustin May in second
Dustin May was not long for the game. After a scoreless first in which he threw 16 pitches, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoned Adam Kolarek from the bullpen.
Kolarek started warming while May was on the mound in the first, indicating a bullpen game.
Will Smith double sparks Dodgers’ second-inning run
Dodgers catcher Will Smith secured a double — the first of his postseason career — on a sharply-hit ball that traveled a mere 54 feet in the air before finding its way into left field.
The hit moved Max Muncy, who drew a leadoff walk, to third base and set up Muncy to score the first run of the game on Cody Bellinger’s groundout.
Slumping Joc Pederson, the Dodgers’ DH for the second time in the series, had a chance to deal the Padres another blow. But Adrian Morejon froze Pederson on a 97 mph fastball for a strikeout. Pederson, who was 6 for 36 in September, is hitless in four at-bats this postseason.
The Dodgers lead 1-0.
Dustin May makes first postseason start
After the Dodgers went down in order in the first, in came Dustin May, the tall right-hander with the red curls who grew up in a small town near Globe Life Field.
The rookie struck out Trent Grisham on five pitches then walked Fernando Tatis Jr. The Padres shortstop was caught trying to steal home in the middle of an at-bat by Manny Machado, against whom May fell behind 3-1. May avoided further trouble, inducing a flyout on his 16th pitch.
A closer look at Manny Machado vs. Brusdar Graterol in Game 2
When Manny Machado sent a Clayton Kershaw slider screaming over the left-field wall at 108-mph in the sixth inning Wednesday night, the San Diego Padres slugger turned toward his teammates and heaved his bat toward the third-base dugout in Globe Life Field before starting his home-run trot.
This was nothing new for Machado and the Padres, who have turned the bat flip and home-run celebration into an art form, injecting the game with a much-needed shot of excitement and youthful exuberance while irritating those who think such antics show up the opponent.
Which is why the Dodgers found it ironic that Machado took such exception to Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol’s over-the-top celebration of Cody Bellinger’s spectacular catch that robbed Fernando Tatis Jr. of a two-run homer in the seventh inning of a 6-5 Dodgers victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
Mookie Betts and Corey Seager gambled on a double steal. It paid off for Dodgers
Leading up to the start of the National League Division Series this week, Mookie Betts was asked how much research he did during the postseason, how much time his nose is buried in scouting reports and video clips and analytical data on opponents before a series.
“I’m kind of in the middle,” Betts said. “I want to know some info, but there’s definitely too much. I have to go out and play the game and let the game tell you what’s going on.”
What the game told Betts in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday, with the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead against the San Diego Padres, was his team needed another spark.
What to know about Dodgers-Padres NLDS game 3
First pitch: 6:08 p.m. PT
TV: MLB Network (free trial available)
NLCS opponent set: The Atlanta Braves completed their fourth shutout of the postseason and swept the Miami Marlins in the other National League Division Series. If the Dodgers earn passage to the championship series, they will face a Braves team that has struck out 59 batters and given up an MLB-low five runs in 49 innings.
How it went in LA: The Oakland Athletics matched the Houston Astros with 12 homers in the American League Division Series but it wasn’t enough to defeat the Dodgers’ top (shield your eyes, Angels) AL West rival. The Astros won Game 4 by a final margin of 11-6 and became the fifth team to secure four straight trips to a league championship series. The Dodgers have never done that. In fact, no NL West team has.
Dodgers notes: Starter Dustin May will face the Padres for the fifth time this season. ... Beleaguered closer Kenley Jansen is not available to pitch Wednesday after appearing in the first two games of the series. Manager Dave Roberts said he will rely on matchups to determine who secures the final outs of Wednesday’s game. ... A win will secure the Dodgers’ 14th appearance in a league championship series. The New York Yankees are the only team in MLB history with more appearances (17).
Padres notes: It’s the Padres’ turn to act as the home team in Globe Life Field. Asked if wearing white would provide an advantage, manager Jayce Tingler said, “You get the last at-bat, so that’s different.” ... Adrian Morejon, 21, will start for San Diego. The left-hander has not thrown more than three innings in any of 11 appearances this season. ... The Padres have wilted at the plate, batting .182 with a .260 on-base percentage in the series. So Mitch Moreland, with 51 games of postseason experience, started Wednesday as San Diego’s designated hitter for the first time this series. He already has four hits in seven at-bats this postseason.
Times photographer Robert Gauthier on capturing Cody Bellinger’s catch
The first rule of journalism — reporting should be accurate and unbiased.
I live by that rule. My career as a Times photographer depends on it.
But, geez, it’s so hard to ignore something so engrained in my soul.
Covering the 2020 National League Division Series between the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in Arlington, Texas, shoves me right to the edge of objectivity.
Wednesday night, as the Dodgers were predictably on their way to a Game 2 win over the Padres, Fernando Tatis Jr. came to the plate with two out and a runner on second, down by a run. A big moment for the inning, game and series.
Cody Bellinger makes a claim for immortality with is spectacular Game 2 catch
If the Dodgers go on to win the World Series, if they finally deliver this city a championship, what is forever known in these parts as “The Catch” won’t be the plays that were made by Willie Mays or Dwight Clark.
The moment Cody Bellinger reached over the center-field wall at Globe Life Park on Wednesday night will be played over and over for generations. The image of reliever Brusdar Graterol throwing his glove in celebration will become part of Dodgers folklore.
That was the kind of play that saves a game. That was the kind of play that wins championships.
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Joc Pederson to serve as Dodgers DH against Padres right-handed starter Adrian Morejón
ARLINGTON, Texas — One way the 2020 Dodgers are different than the clubs from the last two postseasons is the lack of platoons.
This year, the Dodgers have settled on eight players that play every day. The only changes made are at catcher and designated hitter. When Clayton Kershaw pitches, Austin Barnes catches and Will Smith is the DH. Otherwise, Smith is the catcher and another player is the DH.
Evidence of the stability can be found in in this week’s National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers will use the same lineup in Game 3 on Thursday that they used in Game 1. Smith will catch Dustin May and Joc Pederson will be the DH. The Dodgers didn’t use the same lineup twice in their five-game Division Series loss to the Washington Nationals last season.
Kenley Jansen could be left in no-man’s land after poor Game 2 outing
It all seemed so automatic way back then, when Jansen faced three batters, struck them all out and saved the game for Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers asked Jansen to save another game for Kershaw on Wednesday. Jansen faced five batters, gave up two hits and a walk, and the Dodgers removed him before he could face Fernando Tatis Jr.
Dustin May gets the start for the Dodgers in NLDS Game 3 against the San Diego Padres
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dustin May will start Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers announced Thursday morning.
The Dodgers will give May the ball with a chance to complete a sweep and advance to the National League Championship Series.
May has enjoyed reasonable success against the Padres in 2020. The rookie right-hander held San Diego to seven runs (five earned) in 17 1/3 innings across three outings during the regular season and went viral when he fooled Manny Machado with his signature 99-mph two-seam fastball. In Game 1 on Tuesday, he logged two clean innings out of the bullpen. Thursday will be his fifth appearance against San Diego in two months.