If the rest of the 18 meetings between these teams is anything like the one the Padres and Dodgers played on Friday night at Petco Park there will be a whole lot of Southern California baseball fans ordering Rogaine.
L.A. was able to outlast S.D. for an 11-6 win in a game that took just about five hours and featured nearly everything you could possibly see on a baseball field, and a few things that would be hard to comprehend.
Rookie Ryan Weathers, who made his Major League debut in last year's National League Division Series against the Dodgers, made his first career big league start against L.A. The 21-year-old acquitted himself well, tossing 3.2 shutout innings and allowing just one run.
The Padres got their first run off Dodgers starter Walker Buehler in the 2nd inning on an RBI single by fellow rookie catcher Luis Campusano that brought home Manny Machado. With Weathers, Campusano and Tatis Jr. the Padres started three players who are 22 or younger.
The problems started after Weathers left. In the 5th inning Dan Altavilla gave up a solo home run to Luke Raley that tied the game 1-1. In the bottom half it looked like things were setting up for a storybook ending.
Before the game the Padres activated Fernando Tatis Jr. from the Injured List hoping the left shoulder he temporarily dislocated just 11 days prior was healed enough to go against the best team in baseball.
His shoulder seemed fine and Tatis made an impact for the Padres ... both good and bad.
Tatis ripped a long home run to straightway centerfield, sending the majority of the 15,000-plus fans into a frenzy. It was the kind of moment that San Diegans are going to experience an awful lot over the next 14 years.
Alas, the lead didn't last an inning. In the top of the 6th reliever Keone Kela gave up a single and a walk, then with two outs Chris Taylor hit a hard grounder to the left side of the infield. Tatis made an outstanding diving stop to keep the ball on the infield, then made a bad choice.
He tried to get the out and 2nd base but Jake Cronenworth was late getting to the bag. The throw bounded down the right field line, allowing both runs to score. Taylor came home on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
It was exactly the kind of self-destructive inning that the Padres have had all too man times against the Dodgers over the years.
L.A. got another run on a Zach McKinstry RBI double in the top of the 8th inning but San Diego came roaring back in the bottom half. Machado and Wil Myers singled off Dodgers reliever Corey Knebel and Jurickson Profar played the hero. Profar slapped a double down the left field line to bring in both runners and it was all tied 5-5.
In the 9th inning Padres skipper Jayce Tingler went to closer Mark Melancon, the 8th pitcher of the night, to try and preserve the tie. For the first time all year Melancon let a run in. Justin Turner singled home Mookie Betts with what a lot of folks thought was the game-winning run.
It was not.
Machado drew a walk from L.A. closer Kenley Jansen and advanced on a wild pitch. Eric Hosmer hit a grounder to the right side that snuck through the Dodgers shift for an RBI single that knotted it again and sent it to extra innings.
Melancon threw two innings for the first time as a Padre and worked a perfect 10th to keep Will Smith, who started the inning on 2nd base, from scoring.
In the bottom half Wil Myers started on 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a sacrifice fly by Profar. Then these teams said, you know what we haven't had yet? A benches-clearing incident. Dennis Santana hit pinch-hitter Jorge Mateo in the thigh then started walking towards the plate, which Mateo took exception to. They started jawing and everyone from the dugouts and bullpens streamed onto the field before any punches were thrown.
Once things were settled down Mateo stole 2nd base to take a double play off the table. Victor Caratini struck out and Trent Grisham walked, loading the bases for Tatis Jr. ... who struck out looking at a slider to end the inning.
The Padres got the winning run to 3rd base with less than two outs again in the 11th but Hosmer and Myers both whiffed to end the threat. If you give the champs too many chances to beat you they'll do just that.
In the 12th inning Tim Hill missed his spot to Corey Seager, which is never a good idea. Seager launched a 2-run home run that was finally the fatal blow. The Dodgers scored five times in the 12th and along the way we saw some crazy stuff in one of the best (and longest) April baseball games you'll ever see.
Starting pitcher Joe Musgrove came in to play left field, moving Jurickson Profar to 2nd base so Cronenworth could pitch. Jake was a very good pitcher in the minor leagues with a mid-90's fastball so he's not your typical position player on the mound.
He got David Price, a former Cy Young winner as a starter who's now a reliever for the Dodgers, to fly out to Musgrove, the starting pitcher playing left field, then got his first MLB strikeout against Mookie Betts, the the 2018 AL MVP and one of the best hitters in the game.
It was just one of those unforgettable nights, no matter which team you were rooting for.
The Padres will try to even the series on Saturday afternoon in a showdown between two fantastic pitchers. Yu Darvish goes for San Diego against future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.
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