Just Three Games in April
Dodgers and Padres fans are connected in lots of ways: Southern California, the drought of both water and playoff success, Adrian Gonzalez, and the obligation to confront the recent dominance of the San Francisco Giants. But moreover, in the middle of the last decade both fan bases got screwed by messy divorces involving their owners. Frank McCourt’s regime spun out of control and alienated LA fans, while John Moores tried to sell his team in San Diego and then couldn’t. Now here we are. This is the first season in a long time that the Dodgers and Padres are on somewhat of a level playing field with both franchises legitimately trying to win. It’s fun. Dodger Nation thinks the Padres’ Faithful are new rich idiots who don’t know how to be real fans and Padres fans think Dodgers fans are gangbangers who seem to conveniently skip over the fact that they lost interest before Magic Johnson and his Billionaire Boys Club bailed them out. Never the less, for Padres fans, the first three games happened at the dump that is Dodger stadium and we got to see a glimpse of what the AJ Preller dream fulfilled could look like.
In Game One, James Shields slightly out pitched Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp carried the offense with three RBIs. However, the bullpen blew the game, allowing Jimmy Rollins to channel his first Obama Administration self with a three run homer. The Dodgers won 6-3. It’s easy to over react. It’s easy to think we learned something. But patterns have to start somewhere and in the opener and on through the series, every time a ball was hit to centerfield, I got nervous. Wil Myers is a great athlete with a big frame and he’s a competitive person who wants to succeed. The big question this spring was whether or not Myers could cut it in the field, especially in the big open space at Petco Park. He lost a ball in the sun in Game One and dropped another ball late in the contest in Game Three. Maybe this was over hyped by the media when the trade happened, and compounded by Tampa Bay’s sheer willingness to get rid of him, but it’s going to take a great deal of consistent play to make us feel completely safe with him out there.
The obvious bright spot of the series was game two. The Padres offense came through and the centerpiece of the last minute Sunday night blockbuster trade, Craig Kimbrel, got people excited. Tyson Ross looked good until the 6th inning when he gave up two runs. With the Padres down one, it became a question of whether or not the new revamped offense could take back the lead. All off season the narrative had been that things will be different because the pitching staff will have more run support. This was the time to show it off and they did. San Diego’s offense broke open a sizable lead and then Craig Kimbrel was brought into close in a non-save opportunity. He was electric and the Pads won.
Adrian Gonzalez will always remind us of the organization’s inability to pay star players in the past. In the back of my mind, I always assume he will return to the Padres for a victory lap when he is 39. However, watching him celebrate beating the Padres is something that will never sit well and he got to do that in Game Three. After Justin Upton’s 1st inning 2-run homer, it was pretty much all downhill. Adrian hit three bombs and the Dodgers’ defensive shifts mostly worked out for them. Brandon McCarthy was extremely effective when he needed to be and their bullpen held off San Diego from coming back.
It’s easy to over react to the first series of the season. This is something everybody knows and everybody mentions. In fact, the reaction to the reaction often becomes louder than the initial impulse to freak out over the small sample size. We get it; you’re too smart to have fun with the start of the season. Regardless, I learned that Craig Kimbrel throws really hard, the outfield defense is still a question, and Adrian Gonzalez hates us. It’s probably better for the Padres to get slapped around early. The off season is over and now they have to execute the plan designed for them. Bring on the champs.
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