SAN DIEGO—For most of the past decade, the matchup between the Dodgers and the Padres has been less of a rivalry and more of an annual shellacking.
The Dodgers have won the season series against the Padres each of the last 10 years. They’ve gone 118-61 against them in that time, a .659 winning percentage. Last year the Padres were the closest in talent to the Dodgers that they’d been in a decade. The Dodgers still won the season series, 6-4, and swept the Padres in the National League Division Series.
The Padres’ frenetic offseason was driven by a single-minded pursuit: catch the Dodgers, and end that one-sided domination.
After an offseason of moves and countermoves, verbal jabs and declarative statements, record expenditures and heightened expectations, the long-awaited opening matchup between the teams finally came Friday night. It didn’t disappoint.
Corey Seager hit the tiebreaking two-run home run in the 12th inning, and the Dodgers outlasted the Padres, 11-6, in a wild, four-hour, 57-minute affair that featured the benches clearing, fans running onto the field, position players pitching and pitchers playing the outfield.
When the dust settled, the game featured four lead changes and three ties, 26 men left on base, 17 different pitchers and 420 pitches thrown. The teams went back and forth, trading blow by blow, until, literally, one of them ran out of pitchers.
“Tonight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “it felt like a rivalry.”
From the outset, the game was full of drama. The Padres came back from deficits of 4-2 in the sixth inning, 5-3 in the eighth and 6-5 in the ninth, twice going down to their final strike. Manny Machado drew a full-count, two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, and after he stole second base and advanced to third on a ball in the dirt, Eric Hosmer drove a 1-2 fastball into center field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to bring Machado home with the tying run.
Then, things began to go off the rails. In the bottom of the 10th inning, the benches cleared after Dodgers reliever Dennis Santana hit Padres outfielder Jorge Mateo with a pitch. As the bullpens trotted in, a fan ran onto the field and started running toward the infield with the Padres relievers before being tackled by security.
Once order was restored, Santana struck out Fernando Tatis Jr. with the bases loaded to preserve the tie.
“I’m glad that it got resolved and Dennis regained his composure to get out of that inning,” Roberts said.
Seager’s leadoff blast in the 12th broke the stalemate. By virtue of the extra-innings rule that places an automatic runner on second to start extra innings, it was a leadoff two-run homer. After Zach McKinstry, the Dodgers No. 12 prospect, added an insurance run with an RBI single for his third hit of the game, things got even more strange. The Padres, out of arms after using nine pitchers, put second baseman Jake Cronenworth on the mound and pitcher Joe Musgrove in to play left field.
Cronenworth, who pitched in college and was used as an “opener” at Triple-A Durham in the Rays organization, gave up two more runs but recorded his first out when he got David Price—making his first plate appearance since 2019—to fly out to Musgrove in left. Cronenworth then got out of the inning by striking out Mookie Betts, getting him swinging over an 89 mph fastball.
“Obviously didn’t expect it,” Cronenworth said. “I guess I really didn’t want to be in that situation just because I wish we would have won the game a little earlier, but, you know, it was fun. I really enjoyed it.”
Price, mercifully, finished it with a clean bottom of the 12th.
For all the wildness, the result ended in a familiar place: with a Dodgers win.
But at the same time, this one was different. Historically, the Padres and their fans have long considered the Dodgers their rivals, while the Dodgers and their fans have more or less ignored them and reserved their most fervent passions for the Giants.
Even in the hours leading up to Friday’s game, Padres center fielder Trent Grisham expressed excitement about playing the Dodgers, while Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager expressed a relative indifference about playing the Padres. It was a microcosm of the relationship between the two cities, and their two fanbases.
By the time the game ended at 12:08 a.m., that had changed.
“It certainly felt like a rivalry to me,” said Dodgers rookie outfielder Luke Raley, who hit his first career home run in the fifth inning. “There was a lot of intensity to this game. That was my first real taste of that and it’s exciting. And it’s something I look forward to more.”