The Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres in an epic, 16-inning showdown on Wednesday night (and part of Thursday morning). Los Angeles went on to sweep the series.
This rivalry, yes, it is a rivalry, is framed by the dichotomy of the two squads when its comes to their on-field mentalities. The Padres thrive off of a high-energy, let-it-all-hang-out approach on the field. The Dodgers on the other hand end, tend to be less vociferous between the lines.
Both teams feature incredible lineups and quality bullpens. However, when it comes to starting pitching, the Dodgers have the stronger group at the moment.
That still isn’t what defined Wednesday’s Dodgers triumph. What separated the two teams were the decisions of their managers.
As the result of a series of interesting moves, Padres manager Jayce Tingler had his pitchers hitting fifth. For the entirety of extra innings.
Dave Roberts and the Dodgers pounced on the blunder.
The Dodgers intentionally walked the three (Manny Machado) and four (Jake Cronenworth) hitters a total of five times in extras to get to the pitcher’s spot. In fact, Cronenworth did not record an at-bat after the ninth inning. The Padres were forced to try, and fail, to win the game with pitchers pinch-hitting. Three different times.
That crack in the Padres lineup opens the door for the Dodgers to avoid two of the Padres’ three best hitters.
To be fair, Dave Roberts doesn’t own a flawless managerial record himself. His bullpen tinkering hasn’t always been perfect. He’s been guilty of pulling starters too early. Yet, it’s hard to believe the Dodgers skipper would back himself into a corner like Tingler did on Wednesday.
Both the Dodgers and Padres are plenty talented, but the management of that talent is what separates the two teams.