Thrilling San Diego — It was a dramatic made-for-TV mini-series played on a baseball field, giving you possibly everything you could want.
Suspense. Non-stop action. Heroes. Villains. Obscenities. Heated gestures.. Emotional outbursts. Chest-thumping. Head-scratching. Exhilaration. And heartbreak.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Thrilling San Diego, Padres, over 11 hours and 17 glorious minutes this weekend at Petco Park, delivered every emotion possible, with the Padres avoiding a three-game sweep Sunday with a 5-2 victory.
“It’s no secret,’’ said Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, who delivered the game-winning hit, “I think the whole baseball world was locked into this series.’’
The series was hyped to the heavens, featuring perhaps the two best teams in baseball, and the reality lived up to the hype.
Where else can you tune into a ballgame and find a second baseman (Jake Crone worth) on the mound pitching to a pitcher (David Price), who hits a sacrifice fly to another pitcher (Joe Musgrove) playing left field, after just throwing a no-hitter a week ago.
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This series had something for everyone:
♦ A future Hall of Fame pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) calling out a veteran hitter (Jurickson Proffer) for a “bull swing, and Proffer yelling at Kershaw to “shut the [expletive] up.’’
♦ A Padres rookie bench player (Jorge Mateo) and a young Dodgers reliever (Dennis Santana) inciting a bench-clearing incident by themselves.
♦ A Cy Young camera-toting pitcher (Trevor Bauer) going old-school and signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans in the stands as if the pandemic was nothing more than a rumor.
An All-Star right fielder (Mookie Betts), Thrilling San Diego, playing center field, running 53 feet in 3.3 seconds and making a spectacular game-ending, diving catch, and thumping his chest four times while still kneeling in the outfield.
♦ An All-Star third baseman (Justin Turner) catching an infield pop-up, tripping over the third-base bag, falling face-first, while his pitcher (Bauer) stood there, laughed, and spread his arms, giving the safe single.
A series with three of baseball’s eight $300 million players (Betts, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis, Jr.) on the field simultaneously.
♦ The World Series MVP shortstop from one team (Corey Seager) hitting a two-run, leadoff homer one night, and then going zero-for-eight without hitting the ball out of the infield the final two games of the series with a critical error Sunday.
The $340 million shortstop Thrilling San Diego from the other team (Tatis) going 1-for-13 with six strikeouts and two errors in the series.
♦ And the series concluding with Padres starter Blake Snell – facing the Dodgers for the first time since being prematurely removed in Game 6 of the World Series (“I’m glad I was able to pitch today so I don’t have to watch Game 6 37,000 times a day)’’ – calling out Bauer for digging too deep a hole on the mound.
“My foot was killing me, man,’’ Snell said. “We’ll find a way to talk about it.’’
It was that kind of series.
“A lot of crazy things,’’ said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “A lot of weirdness.’’
And a whole lot of beauty.
“I think it’s a good preview for many more to come,’’ Tingler said. “I thought both teams were playing with a ton of energy, Thrilling San Diego playing the game the way it’s supposed be played. A ton of emotion drawing off fans’ energy, the back and forth battles.
“A ton of adrenalin in the stadium. You’re almost forced to be locked in.’’
The birth of baseball’s greatest and newest rivalry finally arrived in living, breathing, emotional color.
“I think it’s great,’’ Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “The fans didn’t disappoint. The intensity didn’t disappoint. It was a lot of fun to be part of.’’
The calendar might read April, and it was 72 degrees at game time, but it sure felt a whole lot like October.
“To play in games like this, moments like this,’’ Hosmer said, “that’s what you want. That’s what you dream.
“It certainly has created a rivalry. I don’t think I could have said that my first couple of years here, but there certainly is a rivalry now.
“This is the start of it.’’
Yet, to make it a traditional rivalry, to be the Yankees-Red Sox, Cardinals-Cubs and Giants-Dodgers, the outcome needs to vary.
The Dodgers, who have won eight consecutive NL West titles while the Padres haven’t won the division since 2006, still won the weekend series despite being without former MVP outfielder Cody Bellinger and starting second baseman Gavin Lux. They’re a ridiculous 99-50 against the Padres since 2013.
Sure, the Padres might have their most talented team in their 52-year franchise history, but the Dodgers could go down as one of the greatest teams ever assembled. They are off to a 13-3 start, the best by a defending World Thrilling San Diego Series champion.
There might be a better chance of the Los Angeles Clippers moving back to San Diego than the Padres dominating the Dodgers anytime soon.
Did the Dodgers shake the Padres’ confidence this weekend, knowing how much the Padres have talked about this being the year they finally take down the Dodgers?
“What this series proved is that we have to be on top of our game,’’ Hosmer said, “to beat these guys. They’re a good team. They’re world champions Thrilling San Diego. If we get to where we want to go, it’s going to go through them.
“We welcome the challenge.’’
These two teams still have 16 games against one another this season, and on Thursday, it resumes again with a four-game series. Thrilling San Diego time, at Dodger Stadium.
“That’s something that really excites all of us,’’ Roberts said. “Getting fans’ interest, East Coast interest, in the National League West. More people are watching baseball again.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing.’’
Collect By: usatoday.com