Saturday, April 1, 2023

San Diego Padres look to close out Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4

The Los Angeles Dodgers staved off elimination on Saturday night with a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The best-of-five series is now tied at 2-2, which sets up the decisive Game 5 on Sunday at Dodger Stadium with a trip to the NLCS on the line. 

In Game 4, the struggling Dodger offense broke through with some much-needed timely hitting in the third inning to take the 2-0 lead that grew to 3-0 with a “small ball” seventh inning. Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson worked five scoreless frames, and then the Dodger bullpen took it from there. On offense. Freddie Freeman tallied three hits, including a pair of doubles, and Mookie Betts reached base four times and scored two runs.

The Dodger offense finally broke through

Prior to the third inning of Game 4, the Dodgers, going back to Game 1, had been 0 for their last 20 with runners in scoring position. It started with a one-out walk by Mookie Betts. Then Trea Turner, whose Game 4 status was in doubt for a while because of a finger injury he suffered while diving back into first base during Game 3, scorched a double just past Manny Machado at third. Then Freeman hit a hard down double just past first baseman Wil Myers to plate Betts and Turner. With that, the streak of listlessness ended. The Dodgers added an insurance run in the seventh – the first run they’ve managed off the San Diego bullpen all series – thanks in part to a Betts walk and Turner bunt single. That 3-0 score marked the first time in this NLDS that either team has led by more than two runs. 

Tyler Anderson delivered

The 32-year-old retread lefty continues to be a quiet savior for the Dodgers. Armed with a refined pitch mix and tweaked changeup grip, Anderson had a career year in 2022: a 2.57 ERA and 4.06 K/BB ratio in a team-high 178 ⅔ innings. On Saturday, he authored the biggest start of the Dodgers’ season, as he twirled five scoreless innings with six strikeouts, two walks, and two hits allowed. At one point, Anderson retired nine in a row. That’s in keeping with how Anderson has handled the Padres in 2022. During the regular season, he made four starts against the Padres and thrived across those combined 24 innings: 1.88 ERA, no unearned runs allowed, 15 hits, 16 strikeouts, six walks, .502 OPS against.

Trayce Thompson made a highlight catch

Thompson found himself in the Game 4 lineup over Cody Bellinger even though a right-hander, Joe Musgrove, was on the mound for the Padres. Thompson picked up a hit out of the No. 7 hole for L.A., but his biggest moment came in the field in the fourth inning: 

 That’s a stellar, ranging snare by Thompson, and if he doesn’t make it then Brandon Drury might be standing on third base with no outs. Maybe that changes the tenor of the entire inning. 

The deciding Game 5 is next

Who will face the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS? It all comes down to Game 5, which will be Sunday back in Los Angeles. Across the history of best-of-five MLB postseason series – i.e., the LDS and the LCS back when it was best-of-five – that have gone the full five games, the road team is 24-19 in those Game 5s. That’s of course not what you’d expect, given that in MLB the home team typically sees a bump of four to five points of winning percentage. The sample we’re talking about in Game 5s probably isn’t enough to mean much, but consider it “worth noting” – at least for Padres fans looking for some Sunday hope. 

First pitch of Padres-Dodgers Game 5 is scheduled for 9:07 p.m. ET on Sunday. 

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