We still have playoff intensity
It’s a real shame the Dodgers–Padres series is only a best-of-five, because things are really starting to heat up between these two teams.
Los Angeles won on Wednesday night to take a 2–0 lead in the series behind a strong start from Clayton Kershaw. It would have been a very different story, though, if not for one ridiculous play by Cody Bellinger in center field.
In the top of the seventh, with the Padres trailing 4–3 and a runner on second, Fernando Tatís Jr. stepped to the plate and jumped on the first pitch he saw, hitting a blast to dead center. The ball went over the fence, but Bellinger was there to bring it back, denying the Padres a go-ahead homer and ending the inning.
Brusdar Graterol, the Dodgers reliever who gave up the blast to Tatís, was (understandably) extremely hyped to have had his hide saved by Bellinger and celebrated like a madman. He threw his hat and glove in the air, ran around the infield thumping his chest and saluted Bellinger with a double finger-point. Fox color commentator John Smoltz, the grouchiest man in a broadcast booth these days, hated it. “I don’t know what that is,” Smoltz said.
(The celebration starts at the 1:22 mark of the video below.)
The coup de grâce, though, was the kiss Graterol blew in the direction of Padres third baseman Manny Machado, who had been standing in the on-deck circle. Man, that set Machado off.
In the span of seven seconds, Machado fired off a “motherf-----” and three “f--- yous” in Graterol’s direction. He capped it off by telling Graterol, “I’ll be waiting for you.”
Machado did get a chance at revenge, leading off the next inning against Graterol. He grounded out to second.
It’s funny to see the Padres on the other side of an unwritten-rules controversy after they became the poster boys for playing with emotion earlier this season. In fact, Machado himself celebrated a home run in the previous inning with an emphatic bat toss.
Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, seen telling the Padres to get lost during the Machado–Graterol face-off, told Fox’s Ken Rosenthal after the game that he had Machado’s bat flip on his mind when he saw what was going down.
Now, celebrating a homer and yelling at your own dugout is different than singling a guy out with a taunt, but that doesn’t make what Graterol did wrong. It was fun as hell when Jimmy Butler did it to LeBron James on Sunday. If that kind of trash talk becomes normalized in baseball, great.
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