The sequel to a hyped NL West series has lost some of the luster with a struggling Dodgers offense and a struggling Padres team. But the game itself was at least a close-fought affair, though it lacked the same combativeness of the previous series, perhaps due to the realization that it’s April and they face each other a trillion times. Still it came down to the wire, and after comeback attempts fell short, the Padres prevailed 3-2.
Walker Buehler came into this outing sporting his best start to the season in years, yet also carrying some concerns about his fastball velocity and strikeout rate. Fitting then, he also came into the game with the highest FIP among Dodgers starters, which isn’t saying much since it’s still around the 3.0 range, but does highlight that he hasn’t dominated like he can.
Tonight he looked somewhat better in terms of fastball velocity, but still wasn’t what you’d expect from him at his peak in terms of both ride and command. Despite this, he was perfect through the first three innings. The 4th was a different story, with a single and a stolen base on a strikeout being plated by another single to make it 1-0. A third single of the inning followed to put further pressure on Buehler, but he escaped with a strikeout and a foul pop.
After cruising through the 5th, he allowed a one-out homer to Trent Grisham in the 6th that went three-quarters the way up the pavilion in right to make it 2-0.
After a routine 7th, Buehler’s line continued to look great, but I still don’t think he’s locked in if you actually watch the game: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 K, 101 Pitches.
Now if you’re wondering “Wait, what is the offense doing during all this?”, well the answer is basically nothing. Ryan Weathers got the start and he allowed a walk, hit-by-pitch, and single (by Buehler) through 5.2 innings, and he set down the last 11 in a row he faced. Needless to say, the Dodgers didn’t get scoring chances against him. Austin Adams relieved him in the 6th, presumably due to pitch count, and he immediately started a rally with a walk and a hit by pitch. but escaped the frame with a strikeout and continued the struggles of the Dodgers.
The 7th was trusted to Emilio Pagan, who promptly gave up back-to-back dingers to AJ Pollock and Sheldon Neuse to start the inning, tying the game at 2-2. It was Neuse’s first hit as a Dodger and first homer in his MLB career.
A single and a fly out later and Pagan was done in favor of Nabil Crismatt. After a wild pitch provided a scoring chance, he then got back-to-back outs to escape with the tie intact.
Blake Treinen was first out of the pen in relief of Buehler, and he got into trouble by giving up singles on his first two pitches to put runners on the corners. He did escape absolute disaster by getting a double play that scored a run and — after a single and stolen base — a ground out, but the result was still 3-2 to the Padres.
Crismatt continued in the 8th for the Padres, and allowed a Justin Turner single and a Will Smith fly-ball double to start a rally. Tim Hill entered and got a ground out into the drawn-in infield before issuing an international walk to Pollock, and then the luck was paid back when a Neuse rocket hit to second resulted in a double play to escape.
Scott Alexander was given the 9th and he continued to look solid, getting a 1-2-3 frame and setting up a final chance in the 9th.
Unfortunately, somebody forgot to tell the bats, and Mark Melancon then had a drama-free 9th, locking down the save.
The Dodgers fall to 14-5 on the year, though if it feels worse it’s cause they’re 1-3 in their last 4.