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Newsletter: Dodgers Dugout: Looking back at the Padres series

Dodgers celebrate after their victory Saturday.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s take a look back at the Padres series.

Some readers were frustrated that Dave Roberts would bring in a returning Brusdar Graterol and Dennis Santana in a 2-1 (and then 2-2) game. Why not go with relievers who, with all due respect, are currently higher in the pecking order.

Roberts had an answer for that: “There’s other guys we were going to stay away from. Obviously every game is important, but the health of our relievers is more important. To get guys back on line, to keep them fresh, where we’re at in the calendar, and I trust Dennis. I felt he could get us out of that inning. They got a base hit to go ahead, but I felt good with him there.”

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As for Graterol, Roberts said: “I thought the stuff was coming out good. Obviously you look at the velocity, there were some good sliders in there. You just don’t know what to expect. It was his first time since October being out there, I know he was amped up. It was just good to get him back.”

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The Dodgers have consistently taken the long-view when it comes to individual games during a season. They won’t sacrifice the rest and potential health of a player just to win one game, when winning one game could cost them games down the line. Now, you can argue with that plan if you want, but that’s the plan.

You could also just as easily blame Sunday’s loss on bad defense and the fact they got only three hits. Or focus on the fact that they won two of three.

The series did have the feel of the playoffs and was the “biggest series of the season” at least until this weekend when the Padres come to town for the next “biggest series of the season.”

I wanted to take an extra day to write about the series to let the emotions of the weekend die down and make sure I was calm and collected when stating the following: The Padres have a bunch of whiny crybabies on their team.

The whole series was them or their fans complaining. “Clayton Kershaw said a bad word to me!” “That pitcher hit me on purpose with that pitch” (in a situation where a pitcher wouldn’t be throwing at a batter). “There are too many Dodger fans in the stands!” “He didn’t catch that ball!”

The Padres remind me of the little boy who walks behind his daddy, trying to match his footsteps and walk just like him. The whole identity of the team and its fans seems to be wrapped up in beating the Dodgers to prove how good they are. Social media was filled with it Sunday with Padres fans acting like Sunday’s win was the equivalent of winning the title.

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Of course, it makes some sense when you consider they are 16-38 against the Dodgers since 2018. And that the first time they reached the World Series was in large part because of a former Dodger (Steve Garvey). And that they’ve won only five division titles since coming into existence in 1969. And that they are 12-25 in the playoffs. That must be tough.

Of course, noted philosopher Ric Flair famously said, “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man.” And to the Padres, the Dodgers are the man. And every action the Padres take shows it.

The thing is, the Padres are good. Very good. They could win it all. But if they expend all their energy this season during games against the Dodgers, they won’t get too far. But let’s not tell them that.

Of course, the Dodgers came out flat Monday night against the Mariners, with the team looking tired and abandoning their patient offense approach. Almost as if they expended all their energy over the weekend.

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Just a quick thank you

To the Red Sox, for Mookie Betts.

Strike zone problems

The strike zone this season has been ... unusual. It has been going on all season, but got particularly bad during the Padres series. Pitches that are four inches outside are called a strike. Pitches that catch a large part of the corner, or, frankly, are over the plate are called a ball. And it’s not biased against the Dodgers, it’s bad for both teams.

“Just don’t really care to talk about it,” Roberts said after Sunday’s game. “I think it was consistent for both sides, however you want to take that.”

It’s as if the plate ump knows an electronic strike zone is almost certainly on its way, so they’ll just call whatever they want. But it’s getting bad, and it needs to be addressed.

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Justin Turner

He is off to an uncharacteristically hot start, and every time he does something good, I think “Man, it would have been terrible to see him doing this for some other team.”

Roster moves

The Dodgers made a series of roster moves since the last newsletter. Take a deep breath and plunge in:

On Saturday, they sent Matt Beaty to the alternate training site and recalled pitcher Alex Vesia.

On Sunday, they designated pitcher Ashton Goudeau for assignment, recalled infielder Sheldon Neuse from the alternate training site, put Gavin Lux on the 10-day IL with a wrist injury, optioned Vesia to the alternate training site and activated Graterol from the IL.

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The Colorado Rockies then claimed Goudeau from the Dodgers, meaning he spent nine days with the Dodgers. And Vesia spent one day with the team and didn’t pitch. Which brings up the age-old conundrum: If a player appears on the roster, and never appears in a game, does it make a sound?

We are just loaded with philosophy today.

Vin Scully gets a ring

The Dodgers awarded Vin Scully a World Series ring, and he showed it off on Twitter:

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Your first Dodger memory

Since I still have a lot of these, “Your first Dodgers memory” returns this season. If you haven’t already, I’d still love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and it might run in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name and where you live. And don’t send only a sentence. Tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks.

Bruce Adams of Lennox: My earliest Dodgers memory was when I was 11-years-old and we attended my first game at Dodger Stadium, a doubleheader against the Reds on Sept. 16, 1969. I was born an Army Brat and our family bounced from base to base for years in the 50s and 60s until my Dad retired in 1967 and we settled in Southern California where most of our extended family lived. I knew about the Dodgers growing up but had no memories of my own until that doubleheader, and it was pretty special. This memory is a bit lengthy but it was a doubleheader....

The Dodgers were behind late in the first game 1-0 with Bill Singer and Gary Nolan pitching gems. Jim Brewer pitched the top of the ninth and in the bottom half the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out when Nolan walked Willie Crawford to score Bobby Valentine from third to tie it up. Wayne Granger came in and induced Jim Lefebvre to hit a groundball to shortstop Woody Woodward who threw to Johnny Bench at home to get the force out, but Bench threw wild to first and Wes Parker scored the winning run.

Between games me and my two older brothers took a self-guided tour through the stadium. What I remember most was it’s sheer size and how bustling and colorful everything was. We got Dodger Dogs and sodas and headed back to our mid-level seats in time for the first pitch of the second game. Later of course we bought some peanuts that were accurately tossed to us from one of the vendors.

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The second game was tied 2-2 after nine innings and Brewer again came in to pitch the ninth, and as it turned out the remainder of the game. Sometime around the 10th or 11th inning the scoreboard read, GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY as the clock struck midnight, and I remember thinking, ‘WOW... I’m up late and having the time of my life....’ In the bottom of the 12th, Ted Sizemore led off with a double and eventually scored the winning run on a single by Parker; final score 3-2 with Brewer getting another win. After the game, the remaining Dodger fans (me included) began throwing their white seat cushions out onto the field in celebration, the tradition of the day back then. Don’t know when they stopped handing out those seat cushions.

Matt Gaffney: My first real Dodger memory was Boy Scout Night, Aug. 9, 1962, Dodgers vs Phillies. My Dad, Scoutmaster BSA Troop 176 San Juan Capistrano, got a bunch of tickets & we all went up on a bus. Dodgers rallied to win and with two out in the ninth Willie Davis dropped a liner. I yelled “Nice try Willie.” He looked into the right field bleachers and I waved to him and he waved back. That topped off an already memorable night.

Andrea Albin of Tustin: My first memory of the Dodgers is also my first memory of my (now deceased) grandfather and of Vin Scully. I was 4 years old and we were at my grandparents house for Sunday dinner. It was really lunch, but they were southern and everything was called dinner. My mother, sister and grandmother went outside to sit in the porch swing, but I stayed inside, listening to Vin call the game on the radio. I can picture granddaddy sitting in his chair nodding and smiling.

I can’t tell you who we were playing or who was pitching, but it is my very first memory of my granddaddy and of being mesmerized by Scully, and it is priceless. I’ve been a Dodger fan my whole life and hearing Vinnie’s voice is still balm to the soul.

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My son used to tell his friends that I told him Dodger stories instead of fairy tales when he was young!

As Tommy was fond of saying, I, too, bleed Dodger Blue.

And finally

Vin Scully discusses the history of Friday the 13th. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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