Dodgers show Padres who’s boss in the NL West with three-game sweep

Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin delivers during the fifth inning of a 4-0 victory.
Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin delivers during the fifth inning of a 4-0 victory over San Diego. The Dodgers, who swept the Padres, have won 13 of their last 15 games.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

All that hype about the Padres coming into this season?

The Dodgers made it look like a bunch of hot air over the last 10 days.

After eking out a series win in San Diego last weekend, the Dodgers emphatically swept their National League West rivals this weekend in Los Angeles, earning their fifth straight win over the Padres, and fifth consecutive victory overall, with a 4-0 shutout Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

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Rather than run away with the division crown, as many pundits predicted entering the season, the Padres are seven games back of the Dodgers in the NL West standings.


Instead of capitalizing upon their postseason success in October — when they seemed to tip the scales of the rivalry with their upset of the 111-win Dodgers in a National League Division Series — the Padres have quickly backtracked to third place with a star-studded roster that continues to underwhelm.

“It’s just good to play good baseball against a team like that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Put some distance between us and them.”

On paper, some will still view the Padres (19-22) as a better, deeper team. And with three quarters of the season to go, the Dodgers (26-15) haven’t nearly pulled away from their Southern California foes completely.

But to this point of the year, the contrast between the clubs has nonetheless been jarring — with the Dodgers looking again like baseball’s version of a blue-chip stock, just as the Padres have teetered like a phony, volatile, crash-prone cryptocurrency.

“I don’t think we ever really felt we were the underdogs,” Roberts said when asked about preseason perceptions of the teams. “The most important thing is playing baseball games and seeing who the best team is. I’ve always liked our club.”

The Dodgers' Miguel Vargas stands at second base after hitting a two-run double against the Padres on Sunday.
The Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas stands at second base after his two-run double in the sixth inning Sunday against the San Diego Padres.
(Allison Dinner / Associated Press)

Sunday’s game was the most one-sided the clubs have yet played.

After missing most of April because of a sprained ankle, Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin cruised through his fourth start of the season. The right-hander (1-1) scattered two hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out six. And he lowered his earned-run average to 1.42, continuing to rediscover his All-Star form from last year.

“I thought my fastball command was some of the best it’s been since I debuted in ‘19,” said Gonsolin, who also showed increased fastball velocity that reached 95 mph. “Health-wise, I feel good. Building more confidence every day. Just trusting that everything is working.”

The underbelly of the Dodgers’ bullpen held up as well, with Yency Almonte, Victor González, Brusdar Graterol and Justin Bruihl limiting the Padres to three baserunners over the final four innings.

“Guys are starting to understand their roles and what’s expected,” Roberts said. “It takes time to incorporate that with a new team. And I think we’ve hit our stride.”

Mookie Betts and Miguel Vargas supplied ample offense. Betts opened the scoring on a two-run homer in the third inning. Vargas doubled the lead with a two-run double in the sixth.

And after improving to 13-2 in their last 15 games, the Dodgers ended the day with the best record in the National League, overtaking the Atlanta Braves barely two weeks removed from a troubling .500 start to the season.

“It’s a long season, and I think we’re just playing ball,” Betts said. “We have a really good team and are showing it.”


Asked whether the Dodgers have been encouraged by their recent two-week stretch, Betts spun the question as a matter of perspective.

“I think from the outside, there was definitely some wondering of what’s going on,” he said of the club’s early 13-13 record.

“I think [this recent run] is probably more encouraging for you guys,” he added, with a swarm of media surrounding his locker.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hit consecutive homers during the seventh inning to power the Dodgers to a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

May 12, 2023

Internally, however, “we’ve known what we’re capable of,” Betts explained. “We know what we can do.”

And lately, the Dodgers have started showcasing it against everyone they’ve faced, leaving even the once-favored Padres floundering in their wake.

Kershaw, Syndergaard expected to make next starts

Despite the death of his mother, Marianne, on Saturday, Clayton Kershaw is still planning to make his next scheduled start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins, Roberts said.


“He’s doing OK,” Roberts said ahead of Sunday’s Mother’s Day game. “I’m sure this is a day he has a heavy heart. But as far as I understand, he’ll make his start on Tuesday.”

Kershaw declined to discuss the situation Sunday, but Roberts indicated the 35-year-old could be away from the team on the bereavement list following his start Tuesday.

“It’s not surprising,” Roberts said of Kershaw’s desire to pitch. “And then, once he makes his start, I’m sure there’s gonna be some things that are gonna take place he’ll take part in, a ceremony or service, if that’s what they choose.”

Roberts also confirmed that Noah Syndergaard is on track to pitch Monday night against Minnesota after battling a blister over the last week — though the Dodgers did scratch prospect Gavin Stone from a triple-A start Sunday to give themselves a backup plan in case either pitcher’s situation changes.