Dodgers drop extra-inning thriller to Padres in series opener

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles went up 7-3 before getting shut out the rest of the way and surrendering a tough comeback.

LOS ANGELES — After taking two out of three in Minnesota, the Dodgers headed home for their first series against the division-rival Padres this season. Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto toed the rubber for his fourth start of the season in what turned out to be a total slugfest. Homers from Shohei Ohtani, Max Muncy, Mookie Betts and Teoscar Hernandez gave Los Angeles all seven of their runs on the evening within the first three innings.

As for Yamamoto, he would surrender home runs to Manny Machado and Ha-Seong Kim on his way to five innings of three-run baseball. Later on in the contest, clutch blasts from Jake Cronenworth and Fernando Tatis Jr. helped to get the Padres even at 7. The dagger came in extras as Jackson Merrill’s 11th-inning single put them up 8-7 as they hung on for a wild victory on the road. It was quite the game to open up the season series between these two ball clubs with loaded rosters. If the contest was any indication of how things are going to be between San Diego and Los Angeles for the rest of the season, we should be in for a wild ride.

Here are three takeaways:

Ohtani makes history with first-inning homer

Although the Dodgers came up short in the end, Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani had another nice game to keep his red-hot start to the season rolling along. He finished 3-5 at the plate with his signature moment being a solo shot in the first inning that got Los Angeles on the board.

With what was his fourth bomb of the season, he tied Hideki Matsui for the most home runs by a Japanese-born player in MLB history. It’s quite the accomplishment for Ohtani, who reached the milestone in just the 16th game of his seventh MLB season. He’s adjusted quite flawlessly to life with his new team and is currently hitting .457 with four home runs, 12 extra-base hits and seven RBI during an eight-game hitting streak. His next homer, which will be number 176 for his career, officially crowns him as the home run king among Japanese-born players.

Dodger bullpen allows 4-run lead to slip away

It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the most elite lineups across Major League Baseball. Every single player 1-9 has the capability to step into the batter’s box each night and make a serious difference with the bat. However, the pitching has seemingly lagged behind so far to start the 2024 campaign. Yoshinobu Yamamoto delivered a decent start for Los Angeles, going five innings and allowing three earned runs while striking out 6 along the way. He exited the ballgame with a 7-3 lead as things looked fairly promising for the squad. The Padres would eventually manage to chip away against a shaky Dodger bullpen as Daniel Hudson and Ryan Brasier combined to allow four runs throughout the next 2 innings. The homers off the bats of Jake Cronenworth and Fernando Tatis Jr. went a long way in getting San Diego back into the mix as they fought back from a four-run deficit to quickly get even.

It was certainly a game that saw both teams heavily reliant on the long ball, with a whopping eight combined home runs resulting in 13 of 15 total runs. The Dodger’s team ERA this season now stands at 4.20, ranking them at 16th in the MLB. Fortunately, their high-octane lineup has been able to lead the charge thus far, but Los Angeles should certainly look to try and live up to their elite pitching potential if they want to prevent more blown leads in the future.

Los Angeles tallies just one hit through final six innings

The early offensive explosion for the Dodgers had Chavez Ravine rocking as Los Angeles posted seven runs on the board through the first three innings. After falling behind 3-1 early, home runs from Max Muncy, Mookie Betts and Teoscar Hernandez quickly boosted the squad out in front.

However, the six Dodger hits collected throughout the first five innings would seem to have them running out of firepower for the rest of the game. The Padre bullpen managed to spin a brilliant performance as 6 different pitchers worked together to hold Los Angeles to just one hit from innings six to 11. Meanwhile. the San Diego offense worked to chip away at the deficit and ultimately grab an 8-7 lead in the top of the 11th. With the game on the line in the bottom half of the inning, the Dodgers failed to produce a run and sealed their fate. The early reliance on the home run would come back to bite them as the lineup failed to produce a rally for the vast majority of the game. It was their second time this year scoring eight runs, but a lack of ability to string hits together when it mattered cost them a very winnable game in the end.

Los Angeles and San Diego will face off in game two of the series on Saturday night. Gavin Stone gets the start for the Dodgers as he’ll square off against Matt Waldron. It was an unfortunate outing for Stone his last time out as he allowed five earned runs through three innings in an 8-1 loss to the Cubs. He’ll be looking for a nice bounce back-performance as the team looks to even the series and set up a rubber match on Sunday.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. PT.