The Padres bullpen continued its dominance over the Dodgers Friday as the team pulled ahead in the Division Series with a 2-1 win.
The Friars, in the playoffs as a wild-card team, moved within one game of eliminating another 100-win team in the postseason, thanks to four shutout innings from the bullpen, capped by closer Josh Hader’s save.
Trent Grisham came through again in his stellar October, hitting a solo home run in the fourth inning, which held up thanks to nearly perfect work from relievers Nick Martinez, Luis Garcia, Robert Suarez and Hader.
“I’ve just been wanting to contribute all year long,” Grisham told FS1 after the game. “Being able to do so has meant the world to me.”
The Petco Park crowd of 45,137 thrilled to the first postseason game they’ve been able to enjoy since 2006, erupting when Hader struck out Dodger left fielder Trayce Thompson for the final out.
They will go bananas Saturday if the Padres, a clear underdog to the 111-game winning National League West champs – the Friars finished 22 games behind in the division – can put a premature end to the rival Dodgers’ playoff run.
The Padres’ only postseason games at Petco Park since 2006 before Friday – a wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals – took place in 2020, when fans could not attend due to the pandemic.
So the Friar faithful were more than ready to see Blake Snell step to the mound against Dodger Tony Gonsolin in Game 3 of the best-of-five series.
In his last appearance, Snell allowed two runs and four hits in the Padres’ 7-3 loss to the New York Mets in Game 2 of their wild-card series. He was 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA in the regular season, including an 0-1 record in two starts against the Dodgers.
Gonsolin started for the Dodgers in only his second appearance since Aug. 24 because of a forearm strain. Manager Dave Roberts said there would be “some restrictions on Tony,” 16-1 during the season and 2-0 with a 0.71 ERA against the Padres.
And how. He struggled, and Roberts, with a quick hook, pulled him after just 1 1/3 inning.
The Padres got to him in the first inning with a one-out double from Juan Soto and a walk to Manny Machado. After Josh Bell popped out, Jake Cronenworth sent a liner to center to bring in Soto.
Andrew Heaney ended the second inning, two-on, one-out rally that cut short Gonsolin’s night, but to start the fourth he gave up a solo home run to Grisham – he leads all players in the postseason with three – as the Padres increased their lead to 2-0.
The Dodgers cut it in half in the fifth after Thompson and Austin Barnes led off with a single and a double. Mookie Betts followed with a sacrifice fly to right and Thompson scored.
Snell got out of the jam though, retiring Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman on a foul pop and a hard grounder to Machado.
But the left-hander gave up a one-out double to Max Muncy in the sixth and manager Bob Melvin rushed to bring in Martinez, who struck out Justin Turner, then threw out Chris Taylor on a grounder in front of the plate.
Garcia succeeded Martinez, and he gave way to Suarez. Trea Turner singled against the rookie for the Dodgers’ only hit against the Padres bullpen.
“(Their) execution has been second to none,” Cronenworth told 97.3 the Fan of the bullpen.
Hader entered the game in the ninth and reaching speeds of 100 mph, got Justin Turner on a foul pop up to Machado. He struck out Taylor and upon his punch-out of Thompson, the normally stoic closer clapped his hands and smiled.
And Hader wasn’t the only lighting up the speed gun. Garcia’s and Suarez’s pitches hit 100 mph too.
“Where are we without the bullpen right now?” Melvin said after the game.
The Padres enthusiasm echoed that of the fans. Grisham couldn’t contain himself in his post-game interview, broadcast to the stadium – and on live television – exclaiming, “let’s … go San Diego!” (We’ll leave the expletive to your imagination).
“Everybody felt it,” Melvin said. “They were rocking and ready to go the entire game.”
The first two meetings in the series ended in 5-3 finals – the Dodgers took the opener, while the Padres tied the series up Wednesday.
Game 4 starts at 6:37 p.m. Saturday with Joe Musgrove, whose performance clinched the wild-card series against the Mets, set to take on Tyler Anderson.
At stake: a trip to the NL Championship Series for the Padres, and for the Dodgers, a chance to force a Game 5 and take the series back to L.A.
– City News Service contributed to this report.