Loss Angeles | Sydney Hecht
Saturday was a complete shock, to put it plainly.
For those of you who weren’t watching, a brief summary: The Los Angeles Dodgers, who were in desperate need of a win in order to stay in the series, were up 2-0 by the top of the 7th inning. A series of timely base hits from the top of the Dodgers’ lineup and a sacrifice fly from Will Smith gave upped the score to 3-0 versus the San Diego Padres. Despite a rather dry postseason from the Dodgers, the stands were quiet as Padres fans faced supposed defeat. Dodgers and Padres fans alike were sure that a Sunday night Game 5 in Los Angeles was inevitable.
Then, an unforgettable inning from the Padres (and a clear indicator that the Dodgers are due for new management) became a pivotal moment, leading the Padres to a crushing victory not only in Game 4, but in the series. A couple of well-timed singles by Cronenworth, a series of unnecessary pitching changes from the Dodgers, including one made mid at-bat, and a combination of skill and (mostly) luck took the Padres from a score of zero to a winning score of 5. Here, San Diego advanced to the NLCS for the first time since 1988, and better yet, they beat their biggest rivals in the process (however one-sided this rivalry may be).
If you cannot already tell, this article was written by a grieving Dodgers fan. Here, I could go on and on about the statistics behind why the Dodgers deserved to win the entire World Series this year. They were seemingly destined for success in the postseason– in fact, manager Dave Roberts guaranteed a World Series win back in March. As the season progressed, they showed time and time again that they were an incredible team and a fierce competitor– they won 111 out of 162 games (as opposed to the Padres’ 89 wins), a record that stands as the fourth greatest amount of wins in a season in MLB history. Their roster was star-studded from start to finish, containing All-Stars like Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman (dubbed “The Big Three”) and a promising pitching staff. They were set up for success. Then in four, decisive games, an entire seasons’ worth of work disappeared.
And they were defeated by, of all teams, the Padres?
With this in mind, it’s clear that the Dodgers, despite a record-breaking season, may not have necessarily deserved the NLDS title. Their postseason performance was nothing short of disappointing– players with phenomenal batting averages throughout the season were essentially useless in the four-game series, with Freddie Freeman carrying the Dodgers’ offensive game. A call by manager Dave Roberts to relieve pitcher Tyler Anderson in only the fifth inning was costly. And yes, although luck is surely a factor, a three-game consecutive loss for LA cannot be due to unluckiness alone. The Dodgers choked, as they do every October– like they have every postseason for nearly two decades. However hard it is to admit, the Padres showed up to the postseason ready to win, and a combination of their impeccable timing of runs and a letdown from the Dodgers management and offense is what won San Diego the NLDS title this season.
So, what does this mean for the rest of the postseason?
With the Dodgers out of the running, the World Series title is completely up for the taking. This week, the Padres are up against Philadelphia, an equally surprising victor of last week's series against the defending champions, the Atlanta Braves. If their Cinderella story continues, San Diego will advance to the World Series, where they will have the opportunity to win their first championship in Padres history. With a promising bullpen and a competitive batting average, this could very well be their year. After all, as we’ve seen with the defeat of major franchises like the Dodgers and the Braves, nothing is guaranteed in the postseason, and with the right amount of commitment, focus, and luck, the Padres could very well be on their way to winning it all this year.