Dodgers come up short in latest replay of rivalry with Padres

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to the plate during the second inning of Thursday’s game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres throws to the plate against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the first inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Leftfioelder AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches a drive by Wil Myers (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Second baseman Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers catches a fly ball by Jake Cronenworth (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out looking against the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres high fives teammate Wil Myers #5 after scoring on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres singles against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks toward the plate after giving up a Rbi single to Manny Machado (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres steals second base as Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers can???t handle the trow in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to the plate against the San Diego Padres in the second inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 RBI single as teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out looking against the San Diego Padres in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers not happy with a call by home plate umpire umpire Tony Randazzo #11 in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres scores on a RBI single by teammate Manny Machado (not pictured) against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manager Dave Roberts, right, of the Los Angeles Dodgers not happy with a call by home plate umpire umpire Tony Randazzo #11 in the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is out at first after running inside the lines and being hit by the throw against the San Diego Padres in the fifth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fans socially distanced look on during a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres high fives teammate Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • The Padres’ Trent Grisham, right, is congratulated by teammate Manny Machado after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of Thursday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres and teammate Eric Hosmer #30 look on against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks at the baseball as Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres rounds second base after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres high fives third base coach after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers flips the baseball after giving up a solo home run to Trent Grisham (not pictured) of the San Diego Padres in the sixth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Outfielders Jurickson Profar #10 and Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres look on as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives third base coach Dino Ebel #91 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • AJ Pollock #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Outfielders Jurickson Profar #10 and Trent Grisham #2 of the San Diego Padres look on as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fans reach for the baseball as Sheldon Neuse (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run to tie the game against the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Sheldon Neuse #56 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds second base after hitting a solo home run to tie the game off relieve pitcher Emilio Pagan #14 of the San Diego Padres in the seventh inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Leftfielder Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres dives for a baseball hit by Will Smith (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers that was ruled foul than overturned for a ground rule double in the eighth inning of a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Closer Mark Melancon #33 of the San Diego Padres high fives catcher Victor Caratini #17 of the San Diego Padres after striking out Mookie Betts (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the final out in the ninth inning of a baseball game as the San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • San Diego Padres celebrate after getting out of the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Starting pitcher Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes his way to the dugout prior to a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers and San Diego Padres pulled their budding rivalry back off the shelf and took another swallow Thursday night.

Yep – still good.

Last weekend’s exciting three-game series at Petco Park might have swung on a fantastic, game-ending defensive play by Mookie Betts in the middle game. The Padres got their own version of defensive grace in the opener of the series at Dodger Stadium as Jake Cronenworth snuffed out a late Dodger rally and preserved a 3-2 victory for the Padres.

“They had to make a great play, turn a big double play to hold us off,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We had a chance to win tonight and we got beat. Good baseball game.”

It was that. Again.

Tied after seven innings, the Padres pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth.

Justin Turner led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and Will Smith followed by lofting a high fly ball down the left-field line. Jurickson Profar raced over and made a diving attempt as the ball bounced off the chalked line.

Umpire Jim Reynolds signaled the ball had landed foul but a replay review overruled him. Smith was awarded a double, pumping life into a potential Dodger rally.

After Max Muncy grounded out, A.J. Pollock was intentionally walked to load the bases for Sheldon Neuse, a late addition to the lineup after both Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry were scratched with lower back stiffness.

Neuse hit a bullet, a 108.7-mph one-hopper that Padres second baseman Cronenworth somehow smothered, sprawling on his stomach before tossing the ball to shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to start an inning-ending double play.

That went to replay as well but the call was confirmed and the Dodgers’ rally was snuffed out.

“It was a roller coaster inning. I thought we put ourselves in position to at least tie the game, potentially go ahead,” Roberts said.

“It took a great play by Cronenworth to recover on that ball and make a nice feed. And I just don’t know too many shortstops that can make that turn with his arm strength (Tatis). It was a heckuva play by them to end that inning.”

The double play took the life out of the Dodgers and Padres closer Mark Melancon struck out the side in the ninth.

But there hasn’t been much life in the Dodgers’ bats to begin with. Over their last five games (including three losses), the Dodgers have scored just 10 runs while batting .126 as a team (19 for 151).

And it’s not just a recent trend. Over their last 13 games, the Dodgers are batting .202.

“On the offensive side, I’m not too concerned,” said Roberts, diplomatically choosing not to point out injuries that have taken Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux out of their lineup at various times during this stretch.

“We’ve got a lot of good offensive players who have track records to back it up. I think we’ll be fine. There’s always parts of a season where there’s a lull offensively. That happens. Those pitchers are pretty good too. But I’m okay with our offense.”

The latest of those pitchers to handcuff the Dodgers is the youngest pitcher in the major leagues this season.

Twenty-one-year-old left-hander Ryan Weathers made his major-league debut in the postseason (one of only two players in baseball history who can say that). Counting that relief appearance in last October’s NL Division Series, Weathers has pitched in six big-league games, half of them against the Dodgers. He hasn’t allowed a run in 10-2/3 innings against them.

Held to two hits in Seattle on Wednesday, the Dodgers managed just one in 5-2/3 innings against Weathers – a leadoff single by Dodgers starter Walker Buehler in the third inning.

“We saw him twice in a week. His command in both those starts has been very good, fastball command,” Roberts said of Weathers, who allowed just one hit in 3-2/3 innings against the Dodgers last Friday. “Hell mix in a slider. You’ll see a handful of changeups. But he pitches off his fastball and it’s a plus-fastball. The last two times we’ve seen him it’s been really good command.”

The Dodgers’ only offense came in two swings in the seventh inning when Pollock and Neuse hit back-to-back home runs off Padres reliever Emilio Pagan.

That was all the 21st-century offense for the night.

The Padres put together the winning rally in the eighth against Blake Treinen. Profar and Victor Caratini led off with back-to-back singles, Profar going to third on Caratini’s hit. When Tatis hit a ground ball to short, the Dodgers turned a double play as the winning run scored.

“Yeah, I think we’ve talked about it plenty, about us two,” Buehler said of the Dodgers-Padres pairing that has excited baseball. “We’re both really talented teams that know how to play good baseball. You gotta assume there’s going to be a few nail-biters in there.”

Sheldon Neuse’s one-hopper was hit 108.7 mph off the bat. Jake Cronenworth smothered a bullet. https://t.co/DX1MqZzuma

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 23, 2021

“They had to make a big double play to hold us off…we had a chance to win.” Dave Roberts shares his thoughts on tonight’s #Dodgers performance with @kirsten_watson. pic.twitter.com/PB1JyvGUjt

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 23, 2021

Walker Buehler (7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 9 K) reflects on his #Dodgers outing vs. San Diego with @kirsten_watson. pic.twitter.com/aMGADnT3CZ

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 23, 2021

Back-to-back for the @Dodgers and this game is tied! pic.twitter.com/7PKE1H8UyD

— MLB (@MLB) April 23, 2021

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Mookie Betts hit by 95-mph pitch in Dodgers’ loss to Mariners

The Dodgers have weathered injuries to Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux and Tony Gonsolin in less than three weeks.

On Monday night in Seattle, they were dealt a different dose of adversity: a game they never led, their first losing streak of the season, and a heart-stopping hit-by-pitch that sent All-Star Mookie Betts to his knees.

Mariners pitcher Rafael Montero hit Betts on the right forearm with a 95-mph sinker in the ninth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss at T-Mobile Park. Betts stayed in the game, only for Corey Seager to hit into a game-ending double play.

Manager Dave Roberts said Betts’ status for Tuesday’s game in Seattle was to be determined.

“Obviously Mookie’s going to want to be in there,” Roberts said. “Gotta make sure it doesn’t affect his throwing or his swing. He’s pretty honest with me. If he feels like he can play he’ll be in there.”

Replays showed that Montero’s pitch hit Betts in the muscular part of his forearm. Roberts described it as a “soft tissue” injury. While it was possible Betts would undergo an MRI scan, those are more frequently indicative of injuries involving “hard tissue,” such as bone.

It was a painful ending to a disappointing game for the Dodgers (13-4), who also lost Sunday in San Diego. Betts, Seager and Justin Turner reached base eight times in 14 plate appearances. The rest of the lineup went 1 for 21 with two walks. They finished 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position as a team.

Starting pitcher Dustin May (1-1) allowed four runs in five innings. Only three were earned, by virtue of an error by second baseman Chris Taylor.

Taylor Trammell, who began the day hitting .152, clubbed a solo home run and hit an RBI double that led to the Mariners’ critical fourth run.

“It was a tough feeling for me,” May said of pitching from behind. “I guess I failed the team today.”

Seager’s third home run of the season gave him bragging rights for a day over his brother, Kyle, the Mariners’ designated hitter who finished 0 for 4.

The Mariners (11-6) got the last laugh.

“We had the winning run on first base in the ninth inning,” Roberts said. “I thought we just got behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

In the bottom of the first inning, May allowed a one-out single to Ty France, followed by a two-out home run to Jose Marmolejos, giving Seattle a 2-0 lead. In the second inning, Trammell launched his third home run of the season, an opposite-field shot to left-center. The Dodgers quickly trailed 3-0.

Corey Seager got a couple of runs back with one swing. Betts swatted a double against Mariners starter Justus Sheffield (1-1) in the third inning. Seager hit the very next pitch 425 feet to center field for a two-run home run.

The next batter, Turner, worked the count full before hitting a double to left field. But Sheffield struck out Will Smith on three called strikes, stranding the potential tying run at second base. Smith went 0 for 4 out of the cleanup hole.

The Dodgers were still trailing 3-2 in the fourth inning when Luis Torrens hit a routine ground ball to Taylor at second base. The ball caromed off the heel of his glove for an error. With Torrens at first, Trammell sliced a double into right field, driving in the Mariners’ fourth run.

All the run-scoring hits May allowed came against his four-seamer, sinker, and cut fastball. For all its velocity, May said, his fastball was “all over the place.”

Meanwhile, all eight of May’s strikeouts came against his curveball. The right-hander threw 92 pitches and induced 13 swings and misses – eight on the curve.

“It felt right out of the hand today,” May said of the curveball, “so I used it in spots that I felt I could take advantage with it, and it worked today.”

The Dodgers threatened to tie the score in the seventh inning. Betts singled and Seager drew a walk against Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz, putting runners on first and second base.

Kendall Graveman relieved Misiewicz, struck out Turner for the second out, and induced a low line drive from Smith. Only a leaping catch by Dylan Moore at third base prevented the ball from landing in the outfield and driving in the game-tying run.

“I thought it might have had a chance to get over,” Smith said.

The Dodgers put only five balls in play that dropped for hits. They’ll hope for better luck with Betts’ test results.

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Dodgers score 5 runs in 12th inning to beat Padres in opener

  • The Dodgers’ Max Muncy is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. as catcher Luis Campusano applies the late tag during the sixth inning of Friday’s game at PETCO Park in San Diego. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres taps Mookier Betts #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after tagging out on a double play during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres tags out Mookie Betts #42 after Corey Seager #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hit into a double play during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres avoids a high pitch as Will Smith #42 of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes the catch during the first inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: during the inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on after Manny Machado #13 scored on a single by Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres during the second inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Luis Campusano #21 looks on as Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres walks off the mound after being taken out during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Ryan Weathers #40 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field after being taken out of the game during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws to first but is unable to get the out on a single by Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Tommy Pham #28 of the San Diego Padres returns to the dugout after striking out during the fourth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws out Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Dan Altavilla #57 of the San Diego Padres looks on after allowing a solo homerun to Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on as Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers touches the plate after hitting a solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres hits a solo homerun as Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and umpire Mark Ripperger #90 look on during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres reacts after hitting a solo homerun as umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres congratulates Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres after his solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulates Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres after his solo homerun during the fifth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres leaps to field a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres leaps to field a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres overthrows first base on a single hit by Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres places the tag late while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres places the tag late while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 looks on during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers is safe at home plate after a throwing error by Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 during the sixth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulates Ha-Seong Kim #7 of the San Diego Padres after he scored on a throwing error during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Victor Gonzalez #81 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the eighth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 scores on an RBI double by Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres awaits the throw during the eighth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 scores on a double by Zach McKinstry #8 and is congratulated by Luke Raley #62 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the eighth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers connects for an RBI single as Luis Campusano #21 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the ninth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 congratulates Mookie Betts #50 after he scored on an RBI single by Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the ninth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 and Jake Cronenworth #9 congratulate Manny Machado #13 after he scored on a single by Eric Hosmer #30 of the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers challenges Jorge Mateo #3 of the San Diego Padres after hitting him with a pitch during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenges Jurickson Profar #10 after hitting Jorge Mateo #3 of the San Diego Padres with a pitch looks on during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenged Jorge Mateo #3 after hitting him with a pitch as Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres looks on during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Will Smith #16 and Max Muncy #13 hold back Dennis Santana #77 of the Los Angeles Dodgers as he challenged Jorge Mateo #3 after hitting him with a pitch as Jurickson Profar #10 of the San Diego Padres looks on while umpire Mark Ripperger #90 intervenes during the tenth inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Third base coach Dino Ebel congratulates Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after his two run homerun during the twelth inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • The Dodgers’ Corey Seager, right, is congratulated by teammate Mookie Betts as Padres catcher Victor Caratini looks on after Seager hit a tiekbreaking two-run home run during the 12th inning of Friday’s game at PETCO Park in San Diego. The Dodgers won the opener of the three-game series, 11-6. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Tim Hill #25, Fernando Tatis Jr. #23, Eric Hosmer #30, and Manny Machado #13 of the San Diego Padres look on from the mound during the 12th inning of a game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Manager Jayce Tingler relieves Tim Hill #25, as Jake Cronenworth #9, Eric Hosmer #30, Manny Machado #13, Luis Campusano #21 and Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres look on during the twelth inning of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., right, goes over the top of Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy, as Muncy slides in safely to second base during the 12th inning of a baseball game Friday, April 16, 2021, in San Diego. Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor grounded into a fielders choice, and Tatis picked up a fielding error on the play. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10) reacts with teammate Luke Raley (62) after scoring off a single by Raley during the twelfth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 16, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: David Price #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the 12th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Corey Seager #5 and Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hug as Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field after the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 11-6 in a 12 inning game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Justin Turner #10, Mookie Betts #50, Corey Seager #5 and Zach McKinstry #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate defeating the San Diego Padres 11-6 in a twelve inning game at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Did they leave anything for the second act?

With early-aughts ThunderStix apparently teleported in for the occasion, Friday’s first meeting between the Dodgers and their newly-minted NL West challengers did a better job of living up to Justin Turner’s spring prediction of 19 regular-season World Series games than down to the ho-hum, all-business attitude some Dodgers put on this week.

“Yeah, it felt like a rivalry tonight,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who rejected that label this spring.

The San Diego Padres came from behind with two runs in the eighth inning off Corey Knebel then did it again with a run in the ninth, down to their last strike against Kenley Jansen.

But Corey Seager finally decided things in the 12th inning, leading off with a two-run home run – an unholy phrase birthed by baseball’s new extra-innings rule – that sparked a five-run inning and gave the Dodgers an 11-6 victory over the Padres late Friday night at Petco Park.

“That was the most exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of,” said Dodgers rookie Luke Raley, who hit his first MLB home run but did not have to live a sheltered life before making that statement.

The first of seven meetings over 10 days (and 19 during the regular season) between the two teams expected to vie for National League supremacy, it was quite an opening act for the season-long drama ahead. The last inning featured Joe Musgrove – feted in a pre-game ceremony for throwing the first no-hitter in Padres history earlier this week – playing left field for the Padres and David Price collecting the second RBI of his 13-year career and first win with the Dodgers.

“It felt like a playoff game,” Roberts said. “They deployed a lot of guys. We deployed a lot of guys. The intensity was there. Man, I can look up and down my lineup card and everyone contributed.

“I’m just spent emotionally. … We responded. They answered back. They kept fighting. We kept fighting.”

In fact, they nearly did. The game even featured the first staredown of the rivalry when the Dodgers’ Dennis Santana hit Jorge Mateo with a pitch in the 10th inning – a duo not even on the board when predicting who would set off the first benches-clearing confrontation in this matchup.

“I was kind of thinking about that out in the bullpen,” said Price, a veteran of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. “All rivalries in baseball are really good. But once you get that first benches-clearing whatever happens – that’s when it goes to that next level.”

This one already had plenty of levels.

The Padres activated their star shortstop, Fernando Tatis Jr., from the Injured List for the series, reportedly advising him about the “danger points” and “high-risk plays” they hoped he would avoid – things like diving for balls – so he wouldn’t re-injure the shoulder he partially dislocated just 11 days ago.

He didn’t heed their advice.

With runners on first and third and two outs in the sixth inning, Tatis made a diving stop of Chris Taylor’s ground ball into the hole, rolled over and tried to throw to second base for an inning-ending forceout that would have preserved a one-run Padres’ lead – built on a Tatis home run.

His throw was wide of the base and scuttled off into right field as two Dodger runs scored. The error led to a three-run boondoggle and a two-run lead for the Dodgers to protect over the final three innings.

They couldn’t.

It turned into a one-run lead when the Padres scored on a throwing error by Zach McKinstry in the seventh, then a two-run lead again when McKinstry’s double over right fielder Wil Myers’ head drove in a run in the top of the eighth.

Knebel came in to protect that lead in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Manny Machado. It was the first hit off Knebel this season (by the 18th batter he faced).

Two batters later, Myers’ single was the second then Jurickson Profar’s double down the left field line was the third. Two runs scored on the double, tying the game.

Jansen came in and put out the fire with two runners on then the Dodgers gave him a new lead to protect. Mookie Betts led off the ninth with a single, went to second when Seager dribbled a ground out in front of home plate and scored when Turner lashed a single through the infield.

But Jansen had to go through the teeth of the Padres’ order to close it out in the bottom of the ninth. He didn’t quite make it. He walked Machado with two outs. Machado stole second to get into scoring position then advanced to third on a pitch in the dirt. Down to his last strike, Eric Hosmer drove a ground ball single into center field to tie the score again.

Santana loaded the bases in the 10th but froze Tatis on a called third strike to escape. In the 11th, Roberts turned to Thursday night’s closer, Price, who had pitched on consecutive days just twice before in his career. He went the final two innings, getting the win when the Dodgers broke the game open in the 12th on Seager’s home run, RBI singles by McKinstry and Luke Raley – and a sacrifice fly by Price.

­“I mean, it had everything. It really did,” Roberts said. “It was incredible. It’s hard for me to kind of process this one right now. I’ll take the win and I’ll probably not even try to think through this game again and get ready for tomorrow.”

First pitch swinging, see you later. 👋 pic.twitter.com/yMXU9AAP2L

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

Round 1 goes to the @Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/sv8GpcsDUm

— MLB (@MLB) April 17, 2021

DENNIS. SANTANA. pic.twitter.com/p8lJwB1HJN

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

Luke with a no-doubter. 💪 #Crushed pic.twitter.com/FyHtvyZhKE

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 17, 2021

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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani develops blister, loses to Dodgers in final spring training start

  • The Dodgers’ Will Smith (16) is congratulated by teammates Max Muncy, left, and A.J. Pollock after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning of Monday’s Freeway Series exhibition game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Corey Seager (5) rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning during their game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Angels pitcher Junior Guerra (41) during their game against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor (3) rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the bottom of the second inning during their game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor (3) hits a home run in the bottom of the second inning during their game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Will Smith (16) rounds the bases after hitting a 3-run home run in the bottom of the third inning during their game against the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ Corey Seager rounds the bases after hitting a home run off Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani, left, in the bottom of the second inning of Monday’s Freeway Series exhibition game at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ A.J. Pollock (11) stands in left field during their game agent the Angels at Dodger Stadium, Friday, Mar. 29, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels warms up before the MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up before the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels fouls the ball during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels hits a fly out ball during the first inning of an MLB game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout rounds first base as he flies out during the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after walking Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases after a two-run home run during the second inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates with Gavin Lux #9 after a two-run home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani smiles as he warms up before a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager connects on a solo home run during the second inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Angels starter Shohei Ohtani walks off the mound after giving up a solo home run to Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager during the second inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager (5) is met in the dugout by manager Dave Roberts, center, after hitting a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels reacts after giving up a three run home run to Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Julio Urias throws to the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game, Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Phil Gosselin #13 of the Los Angeles Angels rounds the bases after a home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during warm-up before the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on during warm-up before the MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Julio Urias #7 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a home run to Phil Gosselin #13 of the Los Angeles Angels during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Jose Iglesias #4 of the Los Angeles Angels lays out to catch the ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Jose Iglesias #4 of the Los Angeles Angels makes the throw to third base during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger connects on a solo home run during the fifth inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger follows through on a solo home run during the fifth inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers rounds the bases after a home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Keibert Ruiz #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides into third base against Jose Rojas #80 of the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Keibert Ruiz #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides into third base against Jose Rojas #80 of the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Keibert Ruiz #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers slides into third base against Jose Rojas #80 of the Los Angeles Angels during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 29: Jon Jay #9 of the Los Angeles Angels throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • DJ Peters #70, Luke Raley #62 and Matt Beaty #45 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 10-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 10-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, left, talks to Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner before a spring training exhibition baseball game Monday, March 29, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • A general view at Dodger Stadium before the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels on March 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES ― With two exhibition games remaining, the Angels and Dodgers could see the finish line. Every team’s goal for spring training – to begin the regular season without a major injury – was well within reach.

Then Shohei Ohtani decided to make things interesting.

The final score of Monday night’s Freeway Series game was not. Making his final spring training appearance as a pitcher, Ohtani allowed seven runs in 2⅓ innings, and the Dodgers beat the Angels, 10-2, inside a mostly empty Dodger Stadium.

The more serious concern was a blister on Ohtani’s right middle finger that caused him to lose command of his fastball and hastened his early exit.

“I’m not too worried for my next outing,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I’m glad the blister peeled off today before the games actually matter.”

Ohtani said the blister surfaced in his previous pitching appearance, a smooth four-inning start against the Padres on March 21. He played two games as the Angels’ designated hitter in the meantime, even hitting a home run.

Back on the mound Monday, Ohtani’s command betrayed him from the outset. He walked Corey Seager, Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock to load the bases in the first inning. Max Muncy ultimately struck out to end the inning, but he only saw one fastball in the at-bat – a 99-mph heater in the dirt that got past catcher Kurt Suzuki, allowing a run to score.

The next two innings saw more of the same. Ohtani walked Will Smith, then hung a slider that Chris Taylor deposited in left-center field for a home run. Ohtani fell behind Seager 3-and-0, and Seager hit his eighth home run of spring training to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.

Ohtani’s night ended when Will Smith crushed a hanging curveball for a three-run home run in the third inning. The right-hander threw 63 pitches, only 31 for strikes.

While Ohtani said the focus was on increasing his pitch count, his health became a question mark as the Angels plan their starting pitching assignments to begin the season.

“Right now I’ve been told it’s not going to affect” Ohtani making his first start of the season against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, Manager Joe Maddon said. “Adam (Nevala), our trainer, was pretty certain that he’s going to be fine, or he is fine.”

“I have a whole week ahead of me to try to toughen it up,” Ohtani said.

Actually, Ohtani will have only five days’ rest between starts for the first time since he left Japan to sign with the Angels. None of his 12 major league starts have come on fewer than six days’ rest.

In another first, Ohtani will be in the Angels’ lineup one day after he pitches. He’ll serve as the Angels’ designated hitter on Tuesday night in the Freeway Series finale. Swinging a bat, Maddon said, should not affect the blister on Ohtani’s finger.

Dodgers starter Julio Urías, by contrast, had a pleasantly uneventful return home. The left-hander didn’t allow a hit until Phil Gosselin hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to put the Angels on the board. Urías didn’t allow another run in 5⅔ innings, did not walk a batter, and struck out three.

“It was a very methodical spring,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Urías. “We feel really good where he’s at right now. He could’ve kept going a little bit longer. With Julio, his entire mix, everything, worked ahead all night.”

Cody Bellinger hit the Dodgers’ fourth home run of the game, a solo blast against Junior Guerra. Left fielder Pollock returned to the lineup one day after he was scratched due to illness and drew a pair of walks in four plate appearances.

Corey Knebel, Kenley Jansen and Jimmy Nelson did not allow a run out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Scott Alexander, who’s in the running for the final bullpen job, allowed one run in the ninth inning.

“Overall on the pitching side,” Roberts said, “we accomplished what we hoped.”

Dustin May will start for the Dodgers (12-11-5) and left-hander Jose Quintana will start for the Angels (13-12-2) in the rubber match Tuesday. Both teams are expected to use a designated hitter in the final exhibition game of 2021.

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Taylor Ward’s home run lifts Angels over Dodgers in Freeway Series opener

  • Taylor Ward (3) and José Iglesias (4) of the Angels celebrate after Ward hit a home tun in the 8th inning to win the game against the Dodgers during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Cody Bellinger (35) and Max Muncy (13) of the Dodgers celebrate after Muncy hit a 2-run home run in the second inning against the Angels during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • James Pazos (47) of the Dodgers pitches against the Angels during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Tony Gonsolin (26) of the Dodgers pitches against the Angels during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Max Muncy (13) of the Dodgers points upward after hitting a home run in 5th inning against the Angels during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Griffin Canning (47) of the Angels pitches against the Dodgers during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Patrick Sandoval (43) of the Angels pitches against the Dodgers during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Gus Varland (96) of the Dodgers pitches against the Angels during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Griffin Canning (47) of the Angels pitches against the Dodgers during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Angels’ pitcher Andrew Heaney (28) pitches against the Dodgers during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • David Fletcher (22) of the Angels is forced out at second as Corey Seager (5) of the Dodgers makes the throw to first for the double play during a Freeway Series exhibition game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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ANAHEIM ― Players, umpires, official scorers, public-address announcers and everyone else inside a mostly empty Angel Stadium had one thing in common Sunday. They only have a couple more days to use “it’s only spring training” as a valid excuse.

The hallmarks of regular-season baseball were hard to miss in the Freeway Series opener. Two teams that figure to rely heavily on home runs combined to hit six. The lineups, save for the Dodgers’ last-minute substitution of DJ Peters for AJ Pollock, had a distinctively regular-season feel. Only the ending was weird.

When Taylor Ward pummeled a Garrett Cleavinger fastball over the right-center field display in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dodgers’ fielders meandered awkwardly around the field. Ward circled the bases dutifully. No teammates greeted him at home plate, and only Jose Iglesias jumped out of the Angels’ dugout with the vigor worthy of a walk-off home run.

The game was scheduled to last eight innings. The celebration of the Angels’ 6-5 win was as mute as the stadium itself.

“The old eighth-inning walk-off home run,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s beautiful, right?”

Ward did not start the game but he collected two hits in two plate appearances, including the game-winner. Mike Trout went 2 for 3 and hit a two-run single against Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin. Juan Lagares hit the Angels’ other home run, a solo blast against James Pazos in the seventh inning to tie the game at 5.

Max Muncy hit two home runs for the Dodgers (11-11-5), who host the final two games of the series beginning Monday. Corey Seager and Gavin Lux, both left-handed hitters, each homered against Angels southpaw Andrew Heaney. Fourteen of the Dodgers’ 24 outs came via strikeout.

The Angels (13-11-3) will send Shohei Ohtani to the mound against Julio Urías Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Gonsolin, who is in the running for the final spot in the Dodgers’ rotation, didn’t allow an earned run through the first three innings. He allowed eight hits, walked three batters, and struck out six in 3 2/3 innings.

“I feel like I’m ready for whatever role they put me in,” Gonsolin said.

Down 4-0 on the home runs by Muncy, Seager and Lux, the Angels got on the board in the third inning when Seager allowed an Albert Pujols ground ball to bounce into left field, scoring two.

The Angels tied the game at 4 on Trout’s bases-loaded, two-run single in the fourth inning. Gonsolin faced two more batters before reaching his limit at 86 pitches. Manager Dave Roberts hoped the right-hander could complete five innings, but he went to his bullpen in the fourth.

Maddon went to his bullpen even sooner than Roberts, pulling Heaney after 2 2/3 innings. Griffin Canning pitched two innings and allowed the last of Muncy’s two home runs. Patrick Sandoval, Mike Mayers and Raisel Iglesias each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

If Sunday’s barrage was no fluke, it seems the Dodgers and Angels managed to pack the desert air into the moving van and bring it with them from Arizona.

“Typically the ball carries more in Arizona,” Roberts said. “At sea level the ball tends to move a little bit more as far as spin, so I thought it played true today from that sense. We’ll know more the next couple days at Dodger Stadium. Then we’re going to altitude at Colorado. That should play differently as well.”

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Alexander: Maybe the way the Dodgers won was poetic justice

Maybe this is how it had to happen.

Maybe, after all of those years of pitching changes that didn’t work, home runs that crushed dreams and endless ammunition for second-guessers, the Dodgers would finally win a championship because of the other manager’s unforced error.

Those who follow the Tampa Bay Rays, whether they actually attend games in St. Petersburg or not, will be arguing and bemoaning and hashing over this moment for a good long time to come: Rays manager Kevin Cash coming to the mound to take the ball from Blake Snell with one out in the sixth inning, with Snell having given up his second hit but also having struck out nine and appearing to be nowhere near out of gas.

And somewhere in the Dodger dugout, as the Dodgers took the lead against a relief pitcher who had made six appearances in the postseason and given up runs in all six, and had allowed all three runners he’d inherited in this series to score, Dave Roberts was thinking, “Better him than me.”

All of those October disappointments, all of those nights and days that Dodgers managers – not only Roberts but Don Mattingly before him – had to choose between going with a starter too long or going with a reliever they weren’t necessarily sure they could trust … Dodger fans won’t forget them all, but they won’t have to obsess about them any more.

“It is surreal,” Austin Barnes said Tuesday night. If it is surreal for the players, how must it be for those who have watched all those disappointments, to finally see the Dodgers win a World Series for the first time in 32 years and the seventh time in franchise history?

They finally sealed the deal, 3-1, in Game 6 on neutral ground that wasn’t so neutral. The home of the Texas Rangers for three weeks may as well have been Dodger Stadium East. The Dodgers had the home clubhouse, had familiarity with the quirks of the ballpark, and by the end had the majority of the crowd in Globe Life Park.

And should anyone scoff about a championship in a 60-game schedule caused by a runaway pandemic, there was a reminder of the very real health hurdles every team had faced at the very end of Game 6: Justin Turner had been removed from the game after the seventh inning. As the game ended, Fox reported that he’d come out because of a positive COVID-19 test.

After a rash of positive tests early in the season, the game had almost gotten through the end of its signature event, in a bubble, without a positive. But social media erupted when Turner, the heart and soul of this team, came back on the field to hold the trophy and join the team picture.

“A lot of the people who he interacted with (on the field) would be in the contact tracing web,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said, referring to the fact that team personnel and their families had all been within the bubble. “And before we are to interact with other people, I think it’s important for us all to clear the requisite testing hurdles to make sure that we’re in a good spot before we do that.”

So the Dodgers might not be leaving Dallas right away, after all, at least until they receive test resulits.

Before Turner returned to the field, he had tweeted this:

Thanks to everyone reaching out! I feel great, no symptoms at all. Just experienced every emotion you can possibly imagine. Can’t believe I couldn’t be out there to celebrate with my guys! So proud of this team & unbelievably happy for the City of LA#WorldSeriesChamps

— Justin Turner (@redturn2) October 28, 2020

For sure, this was a twist that was so 2020.

But it didn’t dampen the joy of accomplishment, especially for those who had been through those earlier Octobers.

“Everyone in this ballpark wearing Dodger blue, everyone in the world wearing Dodger blue, they never wavered,” Roberts hollered into the microphone during the trophy presentation, as the predominantly pro-Dodgers crowd roared.

Later, Clayton Kershaw was asked what this might do for his legacy, and he shrugged off the question.

“I don’t care about any of that, man,” he said. “We won the World Series. I don’t care about legacy. I don’t care about what happened last year. I don’t care about what people think. I don’t care at all, man. We won the World Series. The 2020 Dodgers won the World Series. I was like, who cares about all that other stuff? To be a part of that team, all that other stuff is just pointless. It doesn’t matter. We won. It’s great.”

For the record, it does matter. His pitching in this postseason changed the narrative, and this championship will change it further.

“When people talk about him, it’s World Series champion first, then future Hall of Famer,” Roberts said.

But Tuesday night it all went back to the moment that Cash emerged from the dugout to remove Snell with one out in the sixth after he’d given up a single to Austin Barnes. Snell had thrown 73 pitches, 48 for strikes, and thrown 29 four-seam fastballs (averaging 96.3 mph, according to Statcast) without one being put in play.

“I was pretty happy because he was dominating us and we just weren’t seeing him,” Roberts said. “Once Austin got that hit and they went to the pen, I think that Mookie (Betts) looked at me with a little smile.”

If Dodger fans hadn’t seen this so closely and so agonizingly over the years from their side of the field, they might have sympathized. This time? No way.

And it was also fitting that Betts scored the go-ahead run in the sixth by beating the throw home on an infield hit, much as he did in Game 1. He used his legs – and later his bat, when he hit a 434-foot home run in the eighth inning – to put the Dodgers in position for one of those rings.

Remember? The ones he promised the day he signed his 12-year contract extension in July.

The celebration scream Mookie unleashed as he rounded first after the home run said it all. This was the bonus L.A. got when Friedman made the trade for Betts back in February. He doesn’t just provide performance and leadership, he does it with joy and passion, and he makes it easier for others to follow his lead. This never seemed to be a team that was too cool for the room.

It was, instead, a team on a mission from day one. The veterans who had been through these struggles felt it all along, but perhaps it really hit home the moment Betts addressed the team at Camelback Ranch about what it takes to win a championship. Through all of the disruptions and inconveniences that followed during this most unusual of all seasons, they maintained that focus on the mission.

They were the best team in the regular season. And at the end they were not only the best of the eight Dodgers teams that have won consecutive NL West championships, they were the best team in baseball, period.

“I feel like there’s been a lot of times where we’ve sat as a group, we’ve sat in front of you guys and we’ve talked internally and to you guys about, ‘Oh, this is the best team we’ve ever played on,’ ” Kiké Hernández said before Tuesday night’s game. “And, you know, this season, I think we can all agree that this is the best team that we’ve seen since we’ve been here.”

Remember, the 2017 Dodgers won 104 games. The 2019 Dodgers won 106. This one won more than 71 percent of its games in a 60-game season. An accurate comparison is probably impossible to make, given the unusual conditions, but winning the final game of the season was the main separator. Hernández pointed another.

“I guess, look at the trade deadline,” he said. “There’s a lot of questions about a lot of teams, but there wasn’t really a lot of questions about what did the Dodgers need to get over the edge? And that just tells you how complete, how deep we were and we are as a team that we didn’t feel the need to go after somebody to get us over the hump.

“And I guess, you know, just by the years I’ve been here, there’s always been that question about what do they need and what they don’t have. And this year there wasn’t really that. We kind of have it all. And it’s allowed us to be in this position that we are today.”

Which will include being sized for World Series rings.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

 

 

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Alexander: For Dodgers, one victory away from ending the wait

One more victory to a World Series championship, and two chances to get it. Did you ever think the Dodgers would reach that point?

They’re there. They have a chance to turn the devastating insanity of Saturday night’s ninth inning into a footnote. They have an opportunity to end a 32-season drought, and particularly to wipe away the frustration of the last seven Octobers with teams that were good enough to win, and in some cases should have won, but didn’t.

On Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas, Tony Gonsolin will start what is expected to be a bullpen game, and before Dodger fans throw up their hands let’s recall that a bullpen game got the Dodgers to the World Series in Game 7 of the NLCS against Atlanta, although it will be hard to envision them getting another 12 outs from Julio Urias just three days after his Game 4 start against Tampa Bay. But it’s possible.

And if they need a Game 7, they will have Walker Buehler. Do you like their chances to win one of the next two?

(Yes, smart guy in the back of the room, we hear you saying it might depend on whether they can keep the bullpen phone on mute. But Dave Roberts’ moves worked over the last three innings on Sunday night, so you might want to keep that snark under wraps for the moment.)

The Dodgers’ first task Sunday was to erase the memories of Saturday night, and the Tampa Bay Rays’ two-run rally in the ninth to even the series. Three runs in the first two innings on Sunday helped. But really, there shouldn’t have been much doubt in their ability to recover from Saturday night’s ninth-inning gut punch, the end of a weird, wild and ultimately discouraging game.

“Everybody (in the clubhouse) was pretty positive,” shortstop Corey Seager said before the game. “You have to be at this point. Once you (left) the locker room, it was over with. We started preparing for today.

“… (Saturday) night was an extremely weird ending and kind of the whole play in general. It wasn’t just that last play. It was throughout the game, there were points where we could have been better.”

But this is the mantra Roberts has preached to his team all along, since he became the Dodgers’ manager in 2016, and as is often the case with a manager or coach, you can tell it sinks in when the players repeat the things he says. To those in the Dodger clubhouse, it is all about winning a baseball game today, and nothing else matters.

“It makes it easier (to shrug off adversity), but it’s not easy to do,” Roberts said. “I think that past successes or failures, things looking out, sort of bleed into kind of a player’s psyche and a team psyche. But that is a message that we believe in. And so now when you can kind of drown out all that other stuff, past and future, it does make it easier to focus on that night’s ball game.

“And (Sunday night) there were 28 players collectively focused on winning tonight. And we got it done.”

Of course, there’s always the baseball adage that momentum more often lies in the identity of that day’s starting pitcher. It has not always been a given in October that Clayton Kershaw would provide that momentum, but in facing the Rays for the second time in five days he did. His six strikeouts pushed him past Justin Verlander into No. 1 all-time for postseason strikeouts, with 207, and he left the bullpen with a two-run lead that Dustin May, Victor González and Blake Treinen took to the finish line.

Should the Dodgers pull this off, the vindication of Kershaw the postseason performer should be front and center. He came into this year with a 4.43 career postseason ERA, as well as the memories of all of those home runs surrendered in big games.

In five postseason starts this season, he is 4-1, compared to his career won-loss record of 9-11 going into these playoffs. His ERA this fall is 2.93, compared to that 4.43. His WHIP is 0.847, compared to 1.074.

A lot of that has been the result of more reasonable usage. He has not had to go on short rest, he has not been needed out of the bullpen, and Roberts said he thinks those factors have helped.

“To his credit, he will do whatever we ask,” the manager said. “And I just don’t know many pitchers who would do that. But in this situation, in this case, we’ve used him kind of more conventional (fashion). And he’s responded really well. So we’re just very lucky to have him and I couldn’t be happier that the postseason he’s had mirrors who he is as a pitcher. He deserves it and it’s great.”

Kershaw acknowledged that those moments of watching the bullpen finish his games can be difficult, not because of the relievers’ success necessarily but because sitting and watching is harder than being able to do something about it yourself.

“I was talking to some of the guys, Walker and some of the other starters,” he said. “The actual day that you pitch, you feel like you can have some say, some control of the game. But sitting there in the dugout watching the last few innings or watching a whole game, for that matter, it’s so stressful in the postseason, especially just because you care so much.”

But if the waiting was hard before, imagine what the break between Games 5 and 6 will be like, one win away.

“The off day’s gonna be hard,” he said. “It’s going to be good for us, obviously resetting our bullpen and things like that, which is huge. But sitting around one win away from a World Series is going to be hard, especially when you’ve been in the same hotel for four weeks now.

“But, you know, I think we can wait one more day and we’ll all be ready to go. Game six, I mean, for myself personally, I’m still gonna try and get ready, try and recover as best I can and be ready to pitch at any moment, just because it’s the last two games of this season.”

If he’s not needed, so much the better. Either way, whatever happens promises to be memorable.

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Whicker: Dodgers derailed by a gust of craziness in an ‘un-perfect storm’

Because baseball turned into pinball, we’re thinking more about Mookie Wilson than Mookie Betts.

Because Chris Taylor took a peek at the action and looked away from the baseball, Clayton Kershaw is pitching to tilt a world Series on Sunday, not to win it.

Because Will Smith decided to maneuver a baseball before he actually caught it, Kenley Jansen remains associated with bumps in the night instead of strike-three handshakes.

None of that fully explains the runaway train of a Game 4 on Saturday that suddenly crashed into the Bad News Bears.

The Dodgers were one strike away from taking a 3-1 lead in this World Series. Just one fewer misplay would have kept the score tied. Instead, Brett Phillips singled with two out on Jansen’s 1-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth, and suddenly we were all attending a night at the Improv. Whose game is it anyway? Two runs scored and made it Tampa Bay’s game, 8-7, and now the Dodgers have to win two out of three to nail down their first world championship since Ronald Reagan was President.

Baseball, there you go again.

“It was an un-perfect storm,” said Dave Roberts, the Dodgers manager, who could not stifle his frustration and anger at the moment the Jenga tower crashed down.

In 1986 Bill Buckner allowed Wilson’s grounder to roll through his legs, and the Red Sox lost a chance to win their first World Series since 1918. That was a one-car pileup. This was a chain reaction on the freeway.

The Dodgers had methodically answered every Tampa Bay comeback to get to the bottom of the ninth with a 7-6 lead. Corey Seager had picked up four hits, Joc Pederson had produced a two-run, two-out, go-ahead hit as a pinch-hitter, and Seager had floated an RBI single in the eighth to give L.A. the last lead it would presumably need.

Brusdar Graterol had bustled in and overpowered the Rays in the eighth. That summoned Jansen to pitch the ninth. That, of course, sparked a cacophonous Greek chorus of second-guessing toward Roberts, but the truth is that if Roberts messed anything up, it was his insistence on using Pedro Baez and watching him give up two go-ahead and tying home runs to left-handed hitters in consecutive innings.

The Dodgers had lifted Roberts off that hook. Jansen has been throwing well. He did on Saturday, too.

Jansen shattered enough wood on Kevin Kiermaier’s base hit to build a mousetrap. Kiermaier stood on first base with the handle in his hand and not much else. Then Jansen walked Arozarena, which isn’t ideal when he is the winning run. Still, there were two outs when Phillips comes up.

Phillips was a .202 hitter this season. He is a former Astro/Brewer/Royal who came to Tampa Bay on Aug. 27 and hadn’t had a hit since Sept. 25. He was left off the ALCS roster and would have been couch-bound in a normal year when only 25 men get dressed for the playoffs.

Folks in Lancaster might remember him as a scorching hitter for the JetHawks in 2015. But here he was just a guy who would stand on the dugout’s top step and write “Randy Good Player” on his clipboard after Arozarena would hit his daily home run in the playoffs. Later, Phillips would write, “Randy>Your Favorite Player.”

But now he was standing, unsmiling, on the bridge. Jansen’s cutter was sharp when he got to that 1-and-2 count. The 92 mph fastball that followed was straight. Phillips got a legitimate single, and then the world stopped turning.

Taylor was in center. Cody Bellinger was DH-ing because of back spasms. Taylor basically won an NLCS as a center fielder in 2018 when he dived to catch Christian Yelich’s drive in Milwaukee. He has no problem playing there.

Kiermaier was scoring, but Taylor was looking for Arozarena. The ball snow-coned in his webbing and then scooted away, and Arozarena was so excited that he hit high gear, coming around third, and … fell.

Yeah, he just went backside-over-teakettle halfway down the line, in front of coach Ozzie Timmons. But Smith didn’t know that.

Cutoff man Max Muncy made the throw, and Smith was already thinking about the sweep tag he needed to execute. The game wasn’t slowing down for him, either. He swept, and the ball bounced off his mitt as Arozarena was trying to figure out what to do. Jansen was not backing up Smith on the play. The ball rolled to the place where bad Dodger losses are stored. Arozarena went in head-first and pounded the home plate with his right hand, like a wrestling referee counting out a victim.

Phillips was one of the few who saw none of that. He had no idea what happened to Arozarena.

“All I know is that I’ve got a blazing headache right now,” Phillips said. “I just got a hit and started running and now all the boys are happy. It’s the most excited I’ve been since the day I got married.”

The Dodgers have scored 25 runs in these four games and won two of them. They keep beating up on the Rays’ best relievers. They get fine starting pitching, at least for as long as Roberts will let those starters pitch. Julio Arias had eight strikeouts in 4-2/3 innings, but he gave up two solo home runs and was gone.

“We’ll do what we always do,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “After every game, we go back and evaluate what happened. It’s going to be the same way here.”

Nothing will be the same as this.

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Whicker: Brandon Lowe, as in pow, gives Rays the power surge they need

First off, it’s Brandon Lowe, rhymes with “Somehow.” For most of this playoff grind he has been trying to get a hit somehow.

He was 0 for 18 in five games against the Yankees and 4 for 26 in seven games against Houston. He was the final member of the American League champions to remove the cloak of anonymity that tends to shroud members of the Tampa Bay Rays, thanks to where they play and how relatively little they get paid and how few fans bother to see them.

Snap judgments are dangerous in baseball. Judgments over 60 games are, too, just to pick a number. Lowe piled up 14 home runs and 57 RBIs, and his OPS of .916 led the team. It was difficult to believe the Rays could win three series basically without him, but each time they did, they threw him a lifeline.

“Back in college (Maryland) I used to beat myself up pretty bad,” Lowe said. “I try not to do that anymore. I’ve learned to handle that through the years of baseball. It doesn’t matter if I go 5 for 5 with five homers or 0 for 5 with five strikeouts. Once I get home and see my wife, it flushes the day.

“But I wasn’t feeling that good. To say my mind wasn’t going in a lot of different directions, I’d be lying to you. Still, as soon as I’d start dragging my feet, someone would come along and tell me to get it going.”

Lowe was hitting in the No. 2 spot on Wednesday night, as the Rays bravely showed up at Globe Life Park after an 8-3 beating at the hands of the Dodgers on Tuesday. To get behind would be inadvisable. Leadoff man Austin Meadows popped up, and Lowe got to 3-and-1 against Tony Gonsolin and slapped a 95 mph fastball over the fence in left-center. As if he was trying to catch up on delinquent payments, Lowe came up in the fifth and hit Dustin May’s 0-and-2 slider over the same fence. That made it 3-0, and even though the Dodgers replied with homers by Corey Seager and Chris Taylor, Tampa Bay would not trail again.

The 6-4 victory evened the World Series and set up a hotel-bound off day in Arlington, Texas, rather than the cross-country charter flight from LAX to Tampa. It will not be a sleepless morning for Lowe.

“It was pure joy when I got back in the dugout,” Lowe said, referring to the ice-breaking home run. “(Manager Kevin) Cash didn’t say anything to me. I kinda liked that. He just acted like I’ve been hitting home runs for the last couple of weeks.”

There is no such thing as a typical Ray, considering how often management plays 52-card pick up with its roster. But Lowe is the type of “asset” the franchise seeks. He was a third-round pick from Maryland, a player who fought through two bad leg injuries to earn All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. Then he became the best player in the Class A Florida State League, and last year the Rays made their own singular kind of commitment to him – a six-year, $24 million contract.

It fits in with the Everyman vibe, which dovetails neatly into a we’ll-show-you mindset. Lowe was asked about what he learned from the nature of his two home runs, where the pitches came from and where he sent them, and he just shook his head.

“When you’re 5-foot-11 like me you’re not too worried about hitting home runs,” Lowe said. “I’m out there against guys throwing 99 mph two-seamers. I’m just trying to hit the ball somewhere.

“But we knew this Series wasn’t over. We only lost one game, and we knew we were coming out here with a Hall of Fame pitcher on the mound tonight.”

Whether Blake Snell actually sees the Hall without buying a ticket is unknown, but the lefty is a former Cy Young Award winner and he muffled the Dodgers with well-placed heat and a slider/curve combination that piled up eight strikeouts in the first four hitless innings.

However, Cash has a zero-tolerance policy toward his starters – i.e., he only tolerates zeroes – and the bullpen got warm when Snell walked Kiké Hernandez with two out and then Chris Taylor pounded a two-run homer. After Mookie Betts walked and Seager singled, Snell was gone without a chance for a win.

Nick Anderson came in to strike out Justin Turner, which is tough to do during October RBI situations, and the Rays added to their cushion.

Gonsolin and Dustin May, supposedly two of the Dodgers’ future starting pillars, absorbed most of the flak. Manager Dave Roberts admitted he’s pushing Gonsolin and May into “uncharted territory,”  but it’s difficult to pitch when you’re on top of a trap door.

“It’s a big ask to be quite frank,” Roberts said. “People have to adjust to certain roles. But both of them are going to have to make pitches.”

Roberts did say Julio Urias will start Game 4 after he served as the late-inning hammer in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves.

Those inside baseball knew this wouldn’t be a walkover series. The Rays know this is the very best place to make a name, or to clarify one.

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World Series Game 2 updates: Tony Gonsolin to start for Dodgers

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin will start Game 2 of the World Series against the Rays on Wednesday.

Gonsolin produced a short outing as the NLCS Game 7 starter on Sunday. Blake Snell will start for the Rays.

The Dodgers’ bats came alive Tuesday and provided Clayton Kershaw with support to take a 1-0 series lead against Tampa Bay.

Kershaw, the veteran left-hander, struck out eight and allowed one run over six innings in an 8-3 victory.

GAME 2

When: Tuesday, 5:08 p.m. PST

Where: Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas

TV: FOX (Ch. 11)


Complete World Series schedule | Game 1 box score |


Can’t watch the game? Follow our live updates feed below.

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