Dodgers Hold Off Padres in Game 1 of NLDS 5-3 to Take 1-0 Series lead
Dodgers Hold Off Padres in Game 1 of NLDS 5-3 to Take 1-0 Series lead
Dodgers Hold Off Padres in Game 1 of NLDS 5-3 to Take 1-0 Series lead

What makes a rivalry?

Is it 100 years of history? Is it proximity? Is it a mutual hatred of each other’s respective teams?

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres certainly don’t have a storied rivalry that goes back decades, but the feud between the two Southern California franchises is both intense and furious as a lion snatching at meat.

The two teams wrote another historic chapter of that rivalry on Tuesday night, as the Dodgers hung on to beat the Padres 5-3 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.

Julio Urias and Manny Machado are certainly central figures in the feud and may even be the catalysts. Both played a big role in Game 1.

Machado played for the Dodgers in the second half of the 2018 season, helping lead L.A. back to the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. However, Machado was maligned and criticized for his effort, culminating with his infamous “Johnny Hustle” comment.

Machado signed with the Padres in the offseason, and immediately began criticizing his former team. He even bet a fan his entire contract that the Padres would win the World Series before the Dodgers did.

Machado lost that bet during the COVID-19 shortened season of 2020. The Dodgers swept San Diego in three games in the NLDS and went on to win the World Series with all games taking place inside a neutral field at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Machado said before the NLDS began, that he was looking forward to the rivalry between the two teams. Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts concurred, adding that it would be intense and emotional.

“It’s very unlikely that this series won’t have a lot of emotions given the recent history, the geography, and the familiarity,” said Roberts before Game 1. “There’s going to be a lot of emotions. It’s going to be exciting not only for players and fans. It’s going to be a very intense series.”

San Diego Padres v. Los Angeles Dodgers
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 11: Managers Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bob Melvin #3 of the San Diego Padres shake hands before the game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodgers Stadium on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Experience is wielded as a weapon in these rivalries. The boisterous noise from the screaming crowd coupled with the energy and animosity is enough to accelerate even the steadiest of heartbeats.

That’s probably why the Dodgers chose NL ERA-leader Julio Urias to start Game 1 of the series. Urias earned the win in the closeout game of the 2020 NLDS series and has drawn the ire of San Diegans ever since.

“I gave it to your team in the playoffs last year [2020] and I have a ring,” Urias said about Padres fans that verbally attack him and his physical appearance when he’s in San Diego. “You guys don’t have anything. And that was with one eye. Imagine if I had two.”

Clearly the Dodgers chose correctly, as Urias showed why he’s considered a Cy Young candidate this season. The left-hander provided one of the most impressive pitching performances of his young career, baffling Padres’ hitters, holding them to three runs over five innings, and earning the win in Game 1.

“The postseason, it’s just different,” said Urias through a translator. “The intensity, the roar from the fans, the excitement from the fans. You feed off that energy. All those positive vibes. Even when I went out to stretch out, you can hear them. You can hear them chanting and just feel that. You take that energy and do the best you can with it.”

Urias outdueled hard-throwing right-hander Mike Clevinger in a statement win that fired a warning shot at the Padres: we dominated you during the regular season and that will continue in the postseason.

The Dodgers got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning. Trea Turner hit his first career postseason home run in a Dodgers uniform when he sent a 93MPH fastball into the seats in left field that gave L.A. a 1-0 lead.

After a Will Smith double, Max Muncy brought him home with an RBI single that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead before the 52,407 in attendance could even get into the ballpark and find their seats.

Two innings later, the Dodgers added three more runs off Clevinger. Turner and Smith each hit doubles, and Gavin Lux recorded one of his own that gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Two batters later, Cody Bellinger reached base on a basesloaded fielding error that tacked on another.

“[The Dodgers] are a team that makes you work, and they make you throw a lot of pitches,” said Padres’ manager Bob Melvin of Clevinger. “When you throw pitches in the middle of the plate, they take advantage of it, and that’s what I saw early on with him. At times he had a good breaking ball and fastball, but they hit his mistakes.”

Staked to a five-run lead, Urias showed why his utterly fearless in the biggest moments. The same pitcher that finished off Game 6 of the World Series in 2020, giving the Dodgers their first title in 32 years, was dominant through four innings on Tuesday.

Using a combination of his four-seam fastball and notorious “slurve,” Urias allowed just one hit through four shutout innings until he ran out of gas in the top of the fifth.

Wil Myers led off the inning with a solo shot to left field, Jake Cronenworth followed with a single, and Ha-Seong Kim sent a double past the diving Trayce Thompson in left to put runners on second and third.

Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 11: Wil Myers #5 of the San Diego Padres watches his fifth inning solo home run in game one of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Urias would get out of the inning, but not before allowing two more runs to score, the first time he’s allowed three runs in a single inning since July 10th.

“It’s the postseason. You feel that rush. You feel that adrenaline going through your veins, and you want to go out there and pitch as long as you can,” said Urias. “I always respect the decisions they make, and that was my time to go and do the best you can. At the end of the day, all we want to do is win, and that’s what we did.”

The play of the game came in the bottom of the 6th inning. The momentum shifted once the Padres had cut the Dodgers five-run lead down to two. San Diego had runners on first and second with one out, and the go-ahed run at the plate in Jake Cronenworth. The San Diego second baseman hit a rocket to second that Lux was able to spear on a hop, turn and flip to Turner who fired back to first for the inning-ending double play. The turn ignited the sold out Dodger Stadium crowd and shifted the momentum back to Los Angeles.

“I was just trying to make a play for Evan [Phillips] there,” said Lux. “Getting the lead out at second is important and Trea [Turner] obviously came across and made a great throw while avoiding Manny there with the slide. It takes two to tango.”

The dancing continued, but the night belonged to the bullpens after that. Both teams took turns posting zeroes for the remainder of the game. The Padres bullpen was good, but the Dodgers matched them and held on for the victory. Chris Martin closed the door on San Diego, earning his first career postseason save in the process.

“We got a win in a big game of this series,” said Martin. “It’s going to be a dog fight. These guys are all out there scratching and clawing. It’s going to be one hell of a series.”

The Dodgers have not dropped a series to San Diego since June of 2021. They defeated the Padres 14 of 19 times this season, and outscored them by 62 runs. On paper, the Dodgers should dispatch of San Diego in swift fashion. But baseball is not played on paper and the Padres tore up that paper and proved in Game 1 they are up to the task of going toe-to-toe with the best team in baseball in a five game series.

“Everyone wants to talk about that all the time,” said Trea Turner of the Dodgers record against the Padres this season, and the fact his team are the favorites to win this series. At the end of the day you just have to win whatever is in front of you, and tonight we did. Tomorrow we have a whole other challenge, and they’re not going to give up. You saw tonight they battled back and had some good at-bats and pitched well late in the game too.It’s not going to be easy, but it’s good to get the first one, and we’ll find out tomorrow.”

The Padres may have not won Game 1, but they will have their three best pitchers taking the mound over the next three games, and they’re ready to rewrite expectations again as they did against the New York Mets in the Wild Card series.

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