While the San Diego Padres' overall play has been a bit bumpy this season, their effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers has met all expectations.
The Padres and Dodgers will meet Saturday night for the sixth time in the past nine days, with a seventh game set for Sunday. San Diego is 3-2 in the first five meetings after a 6-1 victory Friday night that included three Padres' home runs -- two from Fernando Tatis Jr.
A sign of just how much energy and focus the Padres have put into facing the Dodgers has been evident. The Padres won one of the three games at San Diego last weekend, but the entire series was competitive and emotional with the benches clearing multiple times, although there was no on-field skirmish.
Upon exiting that series, the Padres remained at home but were swept in a three-game lackluster series against the Milwaukee Brewers. But San Diego's focus returned for the start of the current series in L.A. with a 3-2 victory Thursday followed by Friday's power display and a strong pitching performance from Yu Darvish.
"You've got two good teams laying everything out, battling," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. "I would say this: If you are a fan of the game, or you have kids interested in watching the game, these have to be some of the most entertaining baseball games being played."
Now comes another meeting between National League West rivals that has entertainment written all over it. The Padres will send left-hander Blake Snell (0-0, 4.11 ERA) to the mound Saturday night against Dodgers right-hander Trevor Bauer (2-0, 2.42).
When the two former Cy Young Award winners met last weekend at San Diego, Snell gave up two runs over five innings while Bauer gave up one over six and the Padres rallied late for a 5-2 victory.
Snell has faced the Dodgers twice in the regular season in his career with no record and a 2.57 ERA, but he always will be remembered for his 5 1/3-inning outing against the Dodgers in Game 6 of last season's World Series. Pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays, he was dominating, only to be removed, and the Dodgers rallied to win the game and the title.
Bauer still is looking for his first career victory against the Padres in five starts. He is 0-4 against San Diego with a 4.28 ERA over 27 1/3 innings.
He could use some run support Saturday. The Dodgers' offense has been scuffling of late after a hot start, and the team has lost four of its past five games.
Injuries have taken a toll on the Los Angeles offense. Cody Bellinger, Gavin Lux and Zach McKinstry are on the injured list. Chris Taylor has missed both games of the series with lower-back stiffness. Mookie Betts missed a game this week after he was hit by a pitch, while Corey Seager is healthy but in a 1-for-24 downturn.
"That's why you prepare for things like this with depth," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It gives other guys a runway. Those guys will be fine, and we'll come out of this OK."
--Field Level Media