Chris Taylor and Trace Thompson scored a double against the San Diego Padres by Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger in the third inning of an 8-1 win Friday at Dodger Stadium. (Gina Farazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Dave Roberts insisted that this would not be a litmus test.
After the drubbing that his team did on Friday, perhaps he should have done so.
On a night that began with an emotional on-field ceremony in memory of the late Vin Scully, and which was supposed to showcase an allegedly revised San Diego Padres roster after Tuesday’s trading deadline, the Dodgers instead won 8-1, expanding their recent dominance of the rivalry by securing their sixth consecutive win.
“Obviously there is anticipation outside the ballplayer,” Roberts said. “But the message has been consistent on our part, just focusing on ourselves and playing good baseball.”
That, the Dodgers did in the series opener.
He struck for four at the bottom of the first, twice benefiting from a mishandling at third base by Brandon Drury.
He doubled his lead with four more runs in the second, burying Padres starter Sean Manea on a two-run double from Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger.
He opened the series opener from there, receiving five scoreless innings from pitcher Tony Gonsolin and little late resistance from his visitors, who entered the series riding high by time-limit moves.
“They definitely got better,” said shortstop Tree Turner. “But we took care of business tonight.”
It was the first time the Padres lost to the Dodgers in a brown and yellow uniform – for Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Drury – the Padres’ four high-profile additions.
San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto sits in the dugout during their 8-1 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night. (Gina Farazzi / Los Angeles Times)
However, Friday was nothing new for his Padres teammates.
The Dodgers are 6-2 against the Padres this year and have won 15 of their last 17 meetings last year.
They extended their NL West lead to 131/2 games, a seemingly insurmountable advantage with two months remaining in the regular season.
And, intentionally or not, the Dodgers (73-33) felt like a loud rebuke of the Padres Deadline Scramble—which was highlighted by him toppling the Dodgers in a blockbuster move for Soto.
When asked about the Soto trade, Roberts said, “It is what it is.” “He’s a great player. It definitely makes our job a little bit harder, a lot harder. But there’s nothing we can do. We’re not going to run away from it.”
The Dodger Stadium crowd was not sure.
“Future Dodger!” Barely a week after watching Soto with! When he went as a member of the Nations, the 23-year-old outfielder was greeted by a chorus during his first trip to the plate on Friday.
This was one of the few occasions when the selling crowd of 52,714 did something other than euphoric.
After attending a pregame ceremony—in which Roberts heads to the stadium to recite Scully’s famous phrase, “It’s time for Dodger baseball”—they roar to life when Drury throws the first base-loaded grounder, Whereby the first two of the game runs to score.
They were on their feet again moments later, when Hanser Alberto hit a two-hopper off Drury and went down the line for a two-run double, then again in the third when Taylor, who had lost his life in a month. was playing the first game, due to a leg fracture, and Bellinger attacked the doubles of two runs.
Meanwhile, Gonsolin completed his fifth start of at least five shutout innings this season after a hard first two innings.
And with the game far out of reach for seventh, Soto was replaced for two innings of rest.
Friday’s results aside, the Padres (61-48) still look like much bigger threats than they did during their last visit a month ago, when they were almost swept away in a four-match series in which their offense took the total Eight runs were scored.
“You definitely have to give ownership to the Padres, Peter Seidler, a lot of credit,” said Roberts, a former Padres player and coach, who added that he had never seen the franchise with so much buzz. “When people are talking about spending money on the Dodgers and Padres, National League West, big trades, great players – I think we all win.”
The Dodgers don’t seem infallible, either, as their pitching staff took another blow on Friday when starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw was placed on the injured list due to lower back pain — an issue the Dodgers hope to have. That the left-handed batsman will not be placed any more. From about a month.
“He’s definitely disappointed, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Roberts said. “I think his only focus is to do what we can to get him back and healthy as soon as possible.”
For now, though, any thoughts about the Padres challenging Dodgers NL supremacy will have to wait.
Their lineup could be more impressive. Their roster is undoubtedly deep.
But on Friday, the Dodgers’ recent torment of the Padres persisted. Even a revamped Padres roster couldn’t stop more than that.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.