Padres getting All-Star 2B Frazier from Pirates

An already impressive Padres infield is about to get even better with the addition of All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier.

Pittsburgh has agreed to trade Frazier San Diego for three minor leaguers, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. The trade is pending physicals. Pittsburgh is sending approximately $1.4 million to the Padres in the deal.

Frazier was the National League starter in the All-Star Game this month. He leads the majors with 125 hits and is batting .324. He’ll join a potent Padres infield that includes Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer.

Pittsburgh is receiving infielder Tucupita Marcano, outfielder Jack Suwinski and right-hander Michell Miliano in the swap.

The Padres are 58-44 and third in the NL West, and hold a cushion for the second wild-card spot. The Pirates have the second-worst record in the NL.

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Dodgers’ Will Smith sets postseason record with five-hit game

Will Smith was 0 for 11 with four strikeouts in the postseason entering Game 3 of the National League Division Series.

Then he had the game of his life against the San Diego Padres.

Smith went 5 for 6 with two doubles and three runs batted in Thursday in the Dodgers’ 12-3 win. It’s the most hits in a single playoff game by any Dodger, and it helped turn the series-clinching victory into a bloodbath.

  • The Dodgers’ Will Smith singles in the eighth inning of Game 3 of their National League Division Series against the Padres on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado, left, tags out Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith (16), who tried to advance on a fielder’s choice by Cody Belliner, during the second inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Corey Seager (5) advances to third on a single by Will Smith, as San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado (13) tries to tag during the fourth inning in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith smiles as he is interviewed after defeating the San Diego Padres 12-3 in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Smith had 5 hits in the game as the Dodgers swept the Padres. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting a double during the second inning against the San Diego Padres in Game Three of the National League Division Series at Globe Life Field on October 08, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • The Dodgers’ Will Smith signals to his teammates after hitting a double during the second inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Padres on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. Smith had five hits in a 12-3 win. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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Smith couldn’t recall the last time he collected five hits in a game, but it didn’t happen during any of his five professional seasons.

“As long as I’m finding good quality at-bats, good quality contact, I’m happy,” Smith said. “I never really got down on myself for not getting hits. It was nice to get some hits tonight.”

Ask his teammates, and Smith’s breakout was just a matter of time.

“His 0-for-11 was about as good as anyone else’s first two games in the series,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “He was hitting the ball hard all over the place. He didn’t change a thing, just found some holes. He hits the ball harder than anyone when they throw the ball in the strike zone.”

Batting fifth, Smith set the tone with a double against Padres starter Adrian Morejon in the second inning. In the third inning, Smith struck out swinging on a Craig Stammen curveball.

In the fourth inning, Smith drove in Mookie Betts with a single against left-hander Tim Hill, padding the Dodgers’ lead to 7-2.

In the sixth inning, Smith singled against right-hander Matt Strahm.

In the eighth inning, Smith singled again, this time against left-hander Drew Pomeranz to load the bases.

Smith capped his monster game with a bases-loaded double in the ninth inning against Trevor Rosenthal. Two more runs scored. At 10-3, the outcome was all but final. So was Smith’s place in history.

Only nine players have ever collected five hits in a playoff game. Smith is the youngest, at 25 years old.

“He’s well beyond his years,” Turner said of Smith. “You don’t think of him as a young guy, the way he puts together his at-bats, game plans, and has an idea of what he wants to do every time he steps into the box.”

Albert Pujols had the last five-hit postseason game, in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. Carl Crawford (2008 ALCS), Derek Jeter (2006 ALCS), Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS), Mike Stanley (1999 ALDS), Marquis Grissom (1994 NLDS), Paul Molitor (1982 World Series) and Paul Blair (1969 ALCS) also accomplished the feat.

For comparison’s sake, the man Smith replaced as the Dodgers’ starting catcher, Yasmani Grandal, had eight hits in 75 postseason at-bats with L.A. Smith had one hit in 13 at-bats during a five-game NLDS last year.

During the 2020 regular season, Smith batted .289 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in 37 games.

“He’s been great for us all year,” Dodger outfielder AJ Pollock said. “You know baseball. He’s had some really good at-bats the whole series. All of a sudden they come in bunches. He does such a great job of controlling the strike zone, putting good swings on it. He’s huge. We’re going to need him going forward.”

Will Smith becomes the first player in @Dodgers‘ history with 5 hits in a #Postseason game, and Los Angeles is on the verge of advancing to the NLCS! pic.twitter.com/DpX8uwfqTP

— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 9, 2020

Have a night, Will Smith!

He caught up with Matty V and Hall of Famer John Smoltz after the @Dodgers punched their ticket to the NLCS! pic.twitter.com/U7cj3m1DoW

— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 9, 2020

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Kenley Jansen shaky, but Dodgers’ bullpen comes through for Clayton Kershaw

The venue was brand new, but Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers had been there before.

Tasked with holding a one-run lead, the Dodgers’ bullpen ultimately prevailed in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Wednesday. It was a pleasant reversal of history for Kershaw, who twice was removed from a playoff game with the lead in hand, only to see the bullpen squander it in a loss. It was also an adventure.

When Joe Kelly retired Eric Hosmer on a routine groundout in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Dodgers could finally exhale, having beaten the Padres 6-5 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The meandering pathway to the final nine outs might have cost Dave Roberts a few gray hairs – and cost Kenley Jansen his job as the team’s closer.

Kershaw was outstanding for five innings as the Dodgers built a 4-1 lead. He struck out six without walking a batter on an efficient 67 pitches. Then in the sixth inning, the Padres made it interesting.

Manny Machado and Hosmer began the inning with back-to-back home runs, narrowing the Dodgers’ lead to 4-3. It was the third time Kershaw had allowed consecutive home runs in a postseason game, something he’s only done once in a regular-season game.

Kershaw came back to retire Tommy Pham, Wil Myers and Jake Cronenworth in order. Roberts then called on Blake Treinen to begin the seventh inning, putting the game in the hands of a bullpen that led the NL in wins (26-11) and earned-run average (2.74).

It wasn’t always pretty.

Treinen got two quick outs, then hit Trent Grisham with a pitch. Graterol jogged in to face Fernando Tatís Jr., then committed a balk to send Grisham to second base. When Tatís hit a fly ball to deep center field, only a leaping catch by Cody Bellinger prevented the ball from landing over the fence for a home run. The Dodgers’ lead was safe.

A pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh gave the Dodgers a 6-3 lead. Graterol pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Enter Jansen, the franchise’s all-time saves leader, who will enter the final year of his $80 million contract next season.

The game got interesting in a hurry.

Jansen struck out Myers, then allowed a single to Jake Cronenworth and a double to pinch hitter Mitch Moreland. That brought the Padres within 6-4.

Grisham, a left-handed hitter, was up next. The Dodgers have three left-handed pitchers on their NLDS roster: Jake McGee, Victor Gonzalez and Adam Kolarek. But Roberts stuck with Jansen, and right-hander Joe Kelly began warming up in the bullpen.

When Grisham laced a 3-and-2 cutter over the middle of the plate for a single, Hosmer scored from second base. The Dodgers led 6-5, and Roberts decided he’d seen enough from Jansen.

“It was a lot for him,” Roberts said. “Thirty pitches to get two outs. I know he’s disappointed as well.”

Jansen recorded the save in Game 1 of the Dodgers’ wild-card round win over the Milwaukee Brewers and recorded the final two outs of the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Padres a day earlier. Yet he had also seen the velocity on his cutter – his signature pitch – dip below 90 mph, and at times the results followed. One cutter on Wednesday registered 87 mph according to MLB’s Statcast system.

Asked specifically about the closer’s job Wednesday, Roberts said, “I’ll keep thinking through it.”

After Jansen allowed eight runs over back-to-back outings in September, Roberts alternated save situations among Jansen, Blake Treinen, Adam Kolarek and Graterol.

But it was Kelly who was entrusted to get the final out Wednesday. If this game served as his audition for the closer’s job, it was hardly an easy pass.

Kelly walked Tatis and Machado to load the bases, before finally retiring Hosmer on a ground ball to second baseman Kiké Hernandez.

“You’ve got to give credit to Tatís and Machado,” Roberts said. “They spoil some good pitches. They took some good pitches and found a way to earn walks. Fortunately, Joe kept competing and made a pitch to Hosmer to get him to ground out.”

Said Kershaw, at last able to smile after catching a rare October break: “Never a doubt.”

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Alexander: Dodgers don’t need home runs in Game 1 of NLDS

Those who watch the Dodgers regularly understand the meaning perfectly when one of their hitters gets on base with, shall we say, an inelegant hit, and his peers in the dugout all start shaking their hands sideways, palms in.

For the uninitiated, it means, “Barrels are overrated.” In other words, you don’t have to hit it on the screws to be productive.

And with whatever remains of their postseason being played in a ballpark that might as well be the epitome of Texas – everything is bigger, or at least is made to seem that way – their success in moving forward may depend on how well they can score without copious numbers of home runs.

Tuesday night in Globe Life Canyon, which isn’t really its name but should be, the Dodgers had four balls die on the warning track, and were being no-hit one out into the sixth inning by a franchise that not only has never had one of its pitchers throw a no-hitter but was in the midst of an unintended bullpen game.

The Dodgers ended up winning Game 1 of the Division Series against the Padres, 5-1, and their winning rally in the sixth consisted of a walk to Chris Taylor, Mookie Betts’ double into the left field corner, a sacrifice fly by Corey Seager, a roller to right against the shift by Justin Turner for an RBI single, a double to left center by Max Muncy, an infield single by Cody Bellinger for an RBI and a wild pitch to score another run.

Having displayed such offensive dexterity, as opposed to just mashing as they’ve done so often, the Dodgers may already have the Padres by the neck. San Diego got 24 pitches out of starter Mike Clevinger before he had to leave the game, his elbow apparently an issue again, after falling behind 2-0 to Bellinger leading off the second inning. The Padres wound up using nine pitchers, tying their own postseason record, and those pitchers gave up 10 walks, an NLDS record.

Is the Padres’ pitching compromised? They didn’t need to use Trevor Rosenthal, Drew Pomeranz or Emilio Pagán on Tuesday, so the back end of their bullpen is rested for Game 2 on Wednesday night. But if they don’t get some length from one or two of their starters over the next couple of nights, they may be in trouble.

Seeing as many relievers as they did Tuesday was in itself a positive for the Dodgers over a long series.

“It’s always our goal to get into teams’ bullpens, especially in the postseason, to try to get into the bullpens as early as possible and make those guys have to earn a lot of outs,” Turner said. “As the series goes on, you get those guys out there over and over again. You wear them down, you end up getting more mistakes.”

Maybe, in time. some of those mistakes might even go over the fence, but it’s probably not wise to count on it.

The Dodgers led baseball in home runs during the regular season with 118, and they hit five during an August series in Arlington against Rangers pitching. But Tuesday the ball didn’t seem to carry appreciably better with the roof open, on a 79-degree night, than it has with the roof closed all season.

Case in point: A.J. Pollock crushed one in the fifth inning with two on and two out, after Bellinger had reached base on what was scored a throwing error by second baseman Jake Cronenworth to score the tying run. It could have blown the game open right there, but Jurickson Profar snagged it on the warning track.

Presumably, nobody on the bench waggled their hands then, but you get the idea. On a night like that, in a park like that, launching the ball isn’t always best.

“I put my hands up at first base,” Bellinger said. “I thought he got it. Looked up, it was 95 (exit velocity) off the bat, I think. I was surprised that it stayed in.”

And in the eighth, Muncy hit one that center fielder Trent Grisham likewise caught on the track. The previous inning, Kiké Hernandez and Betts both hit deep balls that were caught at Globe Life and probably would have been out at Dodger Stadium.

(Any Dodgers watching the A’s and Astros earlier in the day in their own ballpark probably had pangs of jealousy. Five balls left the yard in that game, two of them by Houston’s George Springer.)

How did that “barrels are overrated” ritual start, anyway?

“CT,” Bellinger said, referring to Taylor. “I think it was in 2017. I don’t remember exactly what happened. I think he had a few hits where we say our thumb fell off, where it kind of hurts when you get jammed and you just kind of shake it off. That’s just kind of been our thing for the past few years.”

All of that said, Dodger hitters probably will not change their approaches radically.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s like ‘keep the ball on the ground,’ ” Turner said. “We hit a few homers in the series earlier this year here, so you can hit it over the fence.

“But it’s not about hitting home runs. It’s about hitting balls hard and taking good at-bats. And eventually, we broke them down. We found some holes and it actually happened to be the not-so-hard-hit balls that resulted in more runs for us.”

Whatever works.

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Dodgers get a walking start to beat Padres in Game 1 of NLDS

ARLINGTON, Texas — The zone last night … was really tight … (clap, clap, clap, clap) … deep in the heart of Texas.

The Dodgers and San Diego Padres combined to draw 14 walks in Game 1 of their National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field, home plate umpire Lance Barrett drawing more angry glares than a Prius driver on the local highways.

The Dodgers couldn’t squeeze anything out of their share of those lemons (10 in all) and didn’t even have a hit through the first five innings until a four-run burst in the sixth inning sent them to a 5-1 victory over the Padres in the series opener.

The two teams combined to get just seven hits in the game (all four of the Dodgers’ hits came in that sixth inning) off 14 pitchers.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, right, celebrates with teammates after defeating the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor (3) scores under San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola on a sacrifice fly by Corey Seager during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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  • Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) celebrates after hitting a double against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, center, yells from the dugout during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the San Diego Padres, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) scores on a hit by center fielder Cody Bellinger behind San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen (49) throws to the San Diego Padres during the eighth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy (13) celebrates after Chris Taylor (3) scored on a sacrifice fly by Corey Seager during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the San Diego Padres, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy (13) celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch by San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Stammen during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) throws against the San Diego Padres during the first inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at bat during Game One of the National League Divisional Series against the San Diego Padres at Globe Life Field on October 06, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler, center, argues with home plate umpire Lance Barrett, right, during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers Enrique Hernandez (14) celebrates after Justin Turner, right, scored on a hit by Cody Bellinger against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Victor Gonzalez (81) throws to the San Diego Padres during the seventh inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) steals second base by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor (3) during the first inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • San Diego Padres designated hitter Tommy Pham (28) steals second base by Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) during the second inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Max Muncy (13) celebrates after Mookie Betts (50) scored off a single by Justin Turner against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola, left, celebrates a single with first base coach Wayne Kirby that scored right fielder Wil Myers against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Dustin May (85) throws against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger leaves the game with an injury during the second inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler, left, pulls relief pitcher Ryan Weathers, center, during the fourth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Dustin May (85) throws against the San Diego Padres during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres right fielder Wil Myers (4) steals second base by Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor (3) during the fourth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) throws against the San Diego Padres during the first inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) throws to the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres reacts after striking out during the third inning of Game One of the National League Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Field on October 06, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • Wil Myers #4 of the San Diego Padres rounds the bases to score a run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth inning during Game One of the National League Divisional Series at Globe Life Field on October 06, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • First base umpire Angel Hernandez motions during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres designated hitter Tommy Pham (28) steals second base by Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) during the second inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • San Diego Padres starting pitcher Mike Clevinger leaves the game with an injury during the second inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres relief pitcher Tim Hill throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler (21) throws against the San Diego Padres during the second inning in Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • A general view of Game One of the National League Divisional Series between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth inning at Globe Life Field on October 06, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

  • San Diego Padres manager Jayce Tingler and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, right, speak with the umpire crew before a baseball NL Division Series, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

  • San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) stands in the on-deck circle before Game 1 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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“We didn’t get a lot of hits early, but we took great at-bats and we made those guys work,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “We took a lot of walks tonight. When our offense is at its best, we’re walking as much as we’re getting hits. We did a great job of staying in the zone for the most part and getting on base.”

The first five innings (which took nearly three hours to play) featured 12 walks and a hit batter but only two hits — both of them by the Padres.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler struggled to find Barrett’s strike zone, walking the bases loaded in the second inning and putting Wil Myers on that way in the fourth. Myers stole second base and scored when Buehler left an 0-and-2 fastball over the heart of the plate and Austin Nola slapped it into left field for a two-out RBI.

Buehler walked a season-high four while throwing a season-high 95 pitches, all in just four innings.

“Everything looks like a strike from the mound. It is what it is,” Buehler said when asked about Barrett’s strike zone. “Obviously if I look back, I’m sure a lot of those were balls that from out there I thought were strikes. But that’s part of this game and I think it’s a beautiful part of the game, that there’s a human back there making a decision. At the end of the day, he’s an umpire and his call stands. I was just trying to compete, trying to get back in the zone and that’s it.”

Buehler’s four innings made him the longest-serving pitcher in the game.

Padres starter Mike Clevinger returned from his elbow injury and lasted just 24 pitches — 22 in a two-walk first inning and two more in the second before he left with a recurrence of that elbow issue.

The Padres used nine pitchers to shut out the St. Louis Cardinals in the decisive game of their Wild Card Series (the most pitchers used in a shutout since at least 1901) and set out to put together MLB’s most crowd-sourced no-hitter.

The Dodgers had seven baserunners through the first four innings (six walks and a hit batter) but no hits. They scored their first run in the fifth inning without one either. Two walks, a wild pitch and a throwing error by second baseman Jake Cronenworth tied the game.

“In that situation, for myself, I just wanted to put the ball in play,” said Cody Bellinger who forced the issue on Cronenworth’s error by hustling down the line. “Garrett Richards has some really good stuff. Putting it in play in that situation was a win, and just bust my tail down the line and make anything happen.”

Like an exhausted man juggling plates, Padres manager Jayce Tingler couldn’t prevent everything from crashing down in the sixth inning.

After Chris Taylor drew a one-out — wait for it — walk, Mookie Betts tried a unique approach to reaching base. His line drive to left field went for a double, Taylor stopping at third. A sacrifice fly scored Taylor. Justin Turner followed with an RBI single and Max Muncy doubled off the wall in left-center. An infield single and a wild pitch pushed across two more runs.

The Padres went through three pitchers in that inning alone (on their way to using nine in a game for the third time in four postseason games). The frequent trips to the mound became a strain on the Tingler-Barrett relationship and Barrett ejected the Padres manager from the game before he could get back to the dugout following one pitching change.

“He said he warned me three times (for arguing balls and strikes before the ejection),” Tingler said. “I can’t hear. You can’t hear. I like Lance. Lance is good. But we disagreed on the strike zone. Simple as that.”

Tingler’s mood likely did not improve, watching from the clubhouse as the Dodgers’ bullpen slammed the door shut. Dustin May, Victor Gonzalez, Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen followed Buehler with five scoreless innings, allowing just one baserunner — a leadoff double by Trent Grisham in the eighth.

And no walks.

“It’s hard to fathom what Dustin May, Victor, Treinen and then Kenley did to come out and shut them down like that,” Buehler said. “It’s a testament to what we do here. I’ve got a lot of pride to be a part of this.”

 

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Padres’ pitching plans for NLDS are a game-time decision

The Dodgers can expect to see Zach Davies and Chris Paddack pitch for the San Diego Padres during the National League Division Series. Maybe they’ll see Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger, too.

The assurances were few and the vagaries were many when Manager Jayce Tingler spoke about his pitching plans during a Zoom session Monday afternoon, one day before Game 1 at Arlington’s Globe Life Field.

“I hope to know around 10 a.m. tomorrow,” Tingler said, “and as far as what the major determining factor will be, just the overall health of our staff and where we’re at.”

Lamet, who went 3-1 with a 2.09 earned-run average in 12 regular-season starts, was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right biceps after a Sept. 25 start against the Giants. Clevinger, who made eight starts for the Indians and Padres while posting a 3.02 ERA, was diagnosed with a right elbow impingement Sept. 23. Neither has pitched in a game since. They were left off the Padres’ roster for their wild card series against the Cardinals.

Davies and Paddack started Games 1 and 2 instead, and neither completed three innings. Nine relievers combined on a four-hit shutout in Game 3. Even if Lamet and Clevinger return, don’t expect them to absorb a typical starting pitcher’s workload.

Clevinger threw a bullpen session Sunday, his second since he suffered the injury. Lamet has yet to throw a bullpen.

“Both guys had very good days (Sunday). Seems like I said that maybe 5, 6, 7 days ago so I’m always a little bit hesitant,” Tingler said Monday. “We’ll have a good day then … a half-step back. We’re hoping to stack some good days. Today we’re hoping for a good day as they do their exercises, do their throwing. Yesterday we were really encouraged by the work the guys put in. The big test is how do they respond the next day. That’ll be the test today.”

The Padres seem destined to take a more bullpen-dependent approach than the Dodgers. They must also reckon with a postseason mandate that any player who is replaced due to an injury in the middle of a series cannot be on the roster for the next series – in this case, the NL Championship Series.

Both teams must submit their 28-man rosters for the series to Major League Baseball by 10 a.m. local time.

ALL MY EXES

As the higher-seeded team in the series, the Dodgers will have some measure of home-field advantage. They will bat in the bottom of every inning. They can work with MLB to provide some of their usual game day traditions such as anthems, music and scoreboard displays.

The Padres, however, have a bevy of connections to the home city. General manager A.J. Preller was hired out of the Texas Rangers’ front office in Aug. 2014. So was Tingler, who was the Rangers’ major league player development field coordinator last season.

Utility player Jurickson Profar (2012-18) and first baseman/designated hitter Mitch Moreland (2010-16) played for the Rangers, too.

“We all know each other well,” Tingler said. “We’re all different people than we were two, five and 10 years ago. I think we’ve all grown. It’s always nice to know people, to have background history, trust in one another. That part’s been nice.”

ALSO

Lance Barrett will be the home plate umpire in Game 1. The rest of the crew will include Angel Hernandez (first base), crew chief Bill Miller (second base), Doug Eddings (third base), Alfonso Marquez (left field) and Quinn Wolcott (right field). … Hernandez sued MLB in 2017 for racial discrimination, a case that is reportedly in pretrial stages in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. … The Padres and Dodgers are lodging in the same hotel for the series. “It’s kind of funny, but we try to keep it professional out there,” Padres shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. said. “If we’re going to do something, we’re going to do something on the field.”

 

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Scathing letter accompanies MLB counterproposal as impasse with players continues

Negotiations between MLB and the players’ union to start the 2020 season have heated up — but not in a good way.

Along with their counterproposal sent to the union Friday, MLB’s deputy commissioner and chief legal officer Dan Halem included a biting letter addressed to the union’s lead negotiator, Bruce Meyer. The letter (a copy of which was obtained by the Orange County Register) makes clear the ownership’s position regarding the March agreement between the two sides and shows disdain for the players’ stance — that they were guaranteed full pro-rated salaries for any games played should baseball resume this year.

The letter’s tone makes it seem more likely that any baseball played this season will only come after MLB commissioner Rob Manfred mandates an abbreviated regular season (around 50 games) and an expanded postseason (played on time in October) that would bring the TV revenue MLB craves.

“While we recognize that this essentially has been a negotiation with ourselves because the (Players) Association has offered little beyond what we already have the right to do under the March Agreement, we will make another attempt to reach an agreement that is a win-win for both sides,” Halem said in the letter before outlining the latest proposal — a 72-game regular season beginning around July 14 and ending September 27 with an expanded postseason.

That proposal has been characterized as dead on arrival by many players posting on social media.

“It expired as soon as they hit send,” Pirates pitcher Trevor Williams posted on Twitter, referring to MLB’s demand for a response this weekend.

In obvious reference to the counterproposal, Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen simply posted, “lol.” When asked to be more specific, he responded, “Laugh Out Loud.”

Players have made it clear they believe they are the ones negotiating “with ourselves.” Each of ownership’s three proposals have allotted roughly the same amount of money to salaries — 70 to 80 percent of pro-rated salary tied to only slightly increased numbers of games to be played.

The players’ union has remained steadfast in its interpretation of the March agreement — that it guarantees any pay for 2020 will be fully pro-rated based on the number of games to be played. Halem again asserted MLB’s belief that the agreement (which included a $170 million non-refundable salary advance to the players) gave it the right to negotiate player compensation based on economic realities — such as the loss of revenue from games staged without fans in attendance.

During negotiations in March, Halem said in the letter, ownership made it “crystal clear” that playing without fans in attendance “was not economically feasible.”

“We provided you with financial information showing the amount of revenue from gate/in-park (approximately 50% of local revenue),” Halem said Friday. “The Commissionerhimself said during the negotiations, according to our bargaining notes, ‘We’re not playing empty, it just doesn’t work for us.’ The Association acknowledged as much, which resulted in Section I of the March Agreement, providing the Office of the Commissioner with the unilateral right to resume the season only when (among otherconditions) there were no restrictions on regular fan access in all 30 Major League ballparks.

“And the Association, for giving up essentially nothing because players had no right under their contracts to be paid during the national emergency, received hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of benefits, including a full year of service for a shortenedseason … a full year of service if there was no season, and salary advances totaling $170 million (which were non-refundable if there was no season).”

Halem dismisses player suggestions that MLB has an “obligation to play as many games as possible.” That is “flatly contradicted” by the March agreement, he said in the letter, which places “no obligation” on teams “to play any games, let alone any particular number of games.”

“We negotiated that provision precisely to protect the Clubs from being leveraged into the economically infeasible alternative of playing in empty stadiums without a corresponding reduction in salaries,” Halem said.

According to Halem’s letter, “everyone involved in the (March) negotiations understood that if we could not resume play with regular fan access, the parties would have a subsequent negotiation over reductions to player compensation to account for the loss of billions of dollars of gate/in-park revenue.”

It is clear the two sides’ different interpretations of the March agreement “has been a stumbling block to negotiating a resolution” — something which has been apparent for weeks now. But Halem adds a further swipe at the union’s stance.

“You suggest in your letter that the Association’s 89-game proposal at full daily salaries ‘is made in the interests of settlement,’” he wrote. “However, the parties are not engaged in settlement discussions, and it is unclear what exactly you are trying to ‘settle.’”

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Alexander: Dustin May’s education continues in Dodgers’ loss

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May relaxes between innings during a game against the Blue Jays last week at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May looks toward home plate before throwing a pitch during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May prepares to throw to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Padres in San Diego. The team hasn’t decided yet if May would make a greater contribution as a starter or as a reliever the rest of the season, but his talent and poise suggest he could be on their postseason roster in some capacity. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May bobbles a ground ball before throwing out the Padres’ Josh Naylor at first base during the fourth inning of Monday’s game in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May bobbles a ground ball before throwing out the Padres’ Josh Naylor at first base during the fourth inning of Monday’s game in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May sits in the dugout between innings of a game against the Cardinals earlier this month at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO — Dustin May will get at least one more start for the Dodgers, as Dave Roberts continues to ponder what to do with him down the stretch.

As another in a series of auditions, May’s start Monday night in a 4-3 loss to the Padres suggested he might deserve more. (Maybe even an apology from A.J. Pollock, but we’ll get to that.)

Right now, the string-bean right-hander with the curly ginger hair is the Dodger pitching staff’s X-factor. Roberts hasn’t yet decided if he would make a greater contribution as a starter or as a reliever. But May’s stuff and his poise suggest that, at just under 22 years old and with five major league games under his belt, there could very well be a place for him in the postseason.

If there were justice, he could have pitched six innings Monday night and left with a 5-1 or 6-1 lead. But his teammates have again fallen into a funk with runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded twice in the early innings and going 1 for 10 in RISP situations. And Pollock’s inexplicable throw from center field into the visitors’ dugout scored the tying run and moved the winning run to third, and what had been a 3-1 lead turned into a loss that dropped May’s record to 1-3 as a big leaguer.

Naturally, May blamed himself for not backing up third base, even though it was an ill-advised throw and third baseman Justin Turner probably shouldn’t have let it slip through him.

“I gotta be behind third base to back that ball up,” May said. “There’s no excuse. I gotta be there.”

It is what the smart rookie does, take responsibility.

He is not the finished product yet, to be certain. But in his five major league outings he has demonstrated growth and he has shown poise and maturity.

“For a 21-year-old, (his poise is) off the charts; it really is,” Roberts said. “And he’s a tremendous competitor. He expects a lot from himself, and today showed it. I know he was frustrated by the result … but overall he threw 81 pitches, and I think that a large majority of those pitches were quality pitches.”

He got squeezed occasionally by plate umpire Rob Drake’s Incredible Floating Strike Zone, but he certainly wasn’t alone. Both sides had plenty to complain about, and in fact, Turner had some choice words as Drake left the field after ringing him up to end the game.

“I thought the pitch execution was pretty good,” May said. “I left a curveball up to Austin (Allen, pinch hitter) in the sixth inning and he hit it pretty hard, but other than that I thought I threw the ball pretty decent.”

Allen’s double to right-center started the Padres’ three-run rally in the sixth, though one of those runs was earned. He probably had an advantage, having seen May in the minors.

“I went up there with a little bit of confidence just from facing Dustin through the low levels of the minors and even in Double-A a little bit,” Allen said. “I haven’t faced him this year, but I’ve got a pretty good feel in like where his release point is and all that stuff.

“I’ve faced him so many times throughout the minors and he’s got such good stuff, don’t get me wrong. But after seeing guys again and again and again, I’m going to take my chances, no matter how good they are, because I know how their stuff is moving, and all the little things that go into it.”

That sort of turns the whole “third time through the order” concept on its head. The guy who hit him hardest in that inning hadn’t seen him at all Monday night and was going on what he’d seen in Double-A in 2018.

We already know this about May: He will work fast, he will keep the ball down, and he will induce soft contact. He is not yet getting hitters to swing and miss; in his four previous outings hitters had swung and missed on 9.7 percent of his pitches, according to Fangraphs; the rest of the Dodgers rotation is around 11 to 13 percent.

Monday night he had eight swings and misses in 81 pitches: four on the two-seam fastball, two on the cutter, one each on the curve and slider. The two-seam was topping out at 97 mph early and was around 95 in the later innings.

Roberts said before the game he feels the swings and misses will come as “a byproduct of execution and sequencing. When he can locate the fastball, get ahead and sequence appropriately, the stuff is there to get the swing and miss.”

In what areas does May feel he’s improved since he was called up and made his first start against the Padres on Aug. 2 in L.A.?

“I feel like my misses are closer,” he said. “I feel like I’m more around the zone. The execution of pitches is, I feel, getting better.”

The Dodgers will utilize a six-man rotation for the next week, at least, for rest purposes, so May’s next start would be Sunday in Arizona. After that? Things are fluid.

“I just gotta be ready for anything,” May said. “I have to be compatible with what’s going on. I’m excited to be here, and I’m really excited to do whatever they need me to do. I’m ready for it.”

Left unsaid: All of this is expected to reach a crescendo in October, which has become the only month that truly matters for the Dodgers and their fan base.

Will the kid be ready? We’ll be searching for clues over the next five weeks.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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Alexander: Relief pitchers are guaranteed to frustrate

SAN DIEGO — Part of the problem is that we expect our relief pitchers to be perfect. And, as we were once again reminded Sunday afternoon, they aren’t.

“These guys aren’t robots,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said earlier in the week.

When he spoke those words he was talking about Pedro Baez. But he could have been talking about Kenley Jansen, who gave up a walkoff grand slam to Hunter Renfroe that gave the Padres an 8-5 victory Sunday afternoon and prevented a Dodgers sweep at Petco Park.

Jansen has saved 280 games in his career, 12 in 14 save opportunities this year. The times he doesn’t, such as Sunday? Those are the times that fans grumble and squirm and, in some extreme cases, wonder if there is a better option out there. Believe me, people were tweeting that sentiment around 4:10 Sunday afternoon, after Renfroe hammered a cutter into the left field seats.

Those may be the same people who will see Jansen quoted as saying “who cares” and wonder if his attitude is where it should be. If so, they’re the ones misinterpreting things, not the pitcher.

“You gotta have that ‘who cares’ mentality” as a coping mechanism, Jansen said Sunday. “It happens. It hurts. We wanted that win today. But they’re gonna be there (in Dodger Stadium) next week. That’s who I am. I just get that payback time when I face them again.

“You gotta let it go, man. You gotta let it go to survive in this league. You can’t let stuff like that happen and worry about it, because it’s going to cost you the next game.”

Relief pitching, especially in high-leverage situations, is guaranteed to frustrate those who don’t have to do it. Fans are already prepared to give up on Joe Kelly, who was signed for three years to help get the Dodgers to the ninth inning but has often been unable to build that bridge.  They’re just now warming to Baez, but the memories of his early struggles are never too far from the public consciousness.

With Jansen, the concerns – from the outside – are about his velocity, or his location, or the home run ball to which he has become susceptible in recent seasons. He has surrendered high profile homers in each of the last two World Series. He gave up 13 last season in 69 games, and now has given up four in 17 outings in 2019.

His is a high-wire act, only way more public. And those who discount the importance of the save usually are those who have never had to get those 25th, 26th and 27th outs with little margin for error.

Ask Padres fans. Their closer, Kirby Yates, came into this series with 14 saves in 16 appearances and an 0.56 ERA, but he suffered losses in the ninth inning Friday and Saturday nights. Eventually, everybody gripes about their respective relief pitchers.

Jansen had a one-run lead going into the ninth inning Sunday, achieved on Chris Taylor’s two-run home run in the eighth to complete a comeback from what was originally a 4-0 deficit. Starter Kenta Maeda and relievers Ross Stripling and Baez had retired 14 San Diego hitters in a row, with seven strikeouts in a row at one point, to get the ball to Jansen.

The ninth started ominously, with Eric Hosmer stroking a high and outside cutter to the opposite field for a single, and Manny Margot and Wil Myers following with bunt hits to load the bases. Margot was sacrificing, and third baseman Justin Turner let his bunt roll but it stayed fair. Myers bunted to the left of the mound, and in the confusion over who was covering he beat it out.

Yet Jansen almost got to the end of the high wire, getting Greg Garcia on a called third strike – the ninth pitch of the at-bat – and retiring catcher Francisco Mejia on a popup to first.

“We did,” said Roberts, when asked at that point if he felt confident Jansen was going to get out of it. “And when he got to some stress there were some 93s there (velocity), and I thought the ball had life. So once he got Garcia, and then Mejia, I really liked our chances.

” … I think right now he just hasn’t been consistent with his execution. Even the Hosmer ball, he was trying to go up and in and (the ball) leaked back over for some hard contact. But when he gets in a spot to save and it gets stressful, he finds a way to make pitches.”

Usually.

The first pitch to Renfroe was mid-strike zone and a wee bit in, and the Padres slugger took it for strike one.

“The second pitch, I tried to go up … tried to climb the ladder,” Jansen said. “But the ball stayed a little down, and he put a good swing on it. Sometimes that’s gonna happen. I can’t beat myself (up) about this.

“How many times do you throw a good pitch up in the zone and guys swing through it? … I got beat by my best pitch, the pitch I want to throw there in that situation, up in the zone. I’ve just got to let it go.”

There is also this about these high-wire artists: The best ones believe in accountability. Jansen, as is the case with most of his fellow closers, does not duck questions after a bad outing.

No, he’s not perfect. But he sets a good example.

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Whicker: Dodgers look like they’ve been there before

SAN DIEGO — “I didn’t see any panic,” Dave Roberts said.

Not even when he saw Cody Bellinger crouched near first base, after he had dived unsuccessfully.

Not even when Roberts learned that Bellinger’s right shoulder had somehow come loose from the rest of him, and then re-entered wherever it was supposed to be.

“We did some strength testing with him, he took a few swings in the cage,” Roberts said. “I think he’ll be fine. But his shoulder popped out. That’s happened with him before.”

The Dodgers’ manager seemed calmer than the situation might dictate. But over the past three years, he’s seen almost everything happen to them before.

This opener of a three-game series with the reborn Padres might have seemed a big deal to the locals, although a majority of the sellout crowd in Petco Park was wearing blue. It was another day for the Dodgers, who fell behind 3-0 and took out the brick and mortar and built a 4-3 win, for a 21-13 record.

Center fielder A.J. Pollock is out for who knows how long with yet another elbow problem, but the Dodgers push through such setbacks because, a year ago, they were basically missing their rotation and third baseman Justin Turner, too. Amid cries to dissolve the molecular structure of the franchise, they got it together and won another NL West Division title in the 163rd game, then got to their second consecutive World Series.

This year’s travails will be unique to this year. Friday night was devoted to turning around some of the stragglers, dispelling worry among the faithful.

Clayton Kershaw gave Manny Machado a 3-and-2 slider that was embossed like an invitation. Machado whacked it 437 feet for a 2-0 San Diego lead in the first inning.

Left fielder Hunter Renfroe was dashing this way and that to rob Dodger bids for extra bases. Left-hander Eric Lauer, the 23-year-old in a rotation that has no one over 27, gave up no hits for the first four innings, by which time it was 3-0, thanks to Ian Kinsler’s home run off Kershaw.

Then Kershaw shut San Diego down through the sixth inning and posted his fourth quality start in four starts.

And the first Dodgers hit was a home run by Chris Taylor, who is now hitting .173.

Turner’s 11-pitch at-bat ended with a walk and helped create a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the sixth. The Dodgers got only one run, and 6-foot-9 lefty Brad Wieck got the final two outs.

But in the seventh, Austin Barnes took Wieck deep to tie it. Barnes, now getting the majority of catching duty, is hitting .218 with 11 RBIs in 27 games.

The final defiance of the odds came against the Padres’ Kirby Yates, who has 14 saves and had given up one earned run. Padres manager Andy Green threw the closer into a tie game in the Dodgers’ ninth, and Barnes doubled and scored on a Max Muncy base hit that first baseman Eric Hosmer couldn’t stop.

Kershaw now has a 2.87 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 26 innings. Outs that are achieved with 90 mph pitches still count the same as those achieved with 96.

“When you’re not feeling your best and still keep us in it and go six strong innings, that’s a pretty good effort,” Barnes said. “No matter what, his ability to battle and make pitches is next-level. As the game went on, he got stronger and stronger.”

The Dodgers’ habitual winning doesn’t make it easier for Barnes and Taylor and anyone else to hit when they’re struggling, but it does buy time.

“It’s a grind, it’s like anything else,” Barnes said. “It’s up and down. Tonight I just got a couple of balls in the zone. I felt pretty good at the end of spring training, hit a little bit of a skid. Now I’m feeling good again. This was a good win, a hard-fought win.”

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