david roberts insisted it would not be a litmus test.
After the beating his team inflicted on Friday, maybe he should have.
A night that began with an emotional ceremony on the pitch commemorating the late Vin Scullyand who was supposed to feature a supposedly revamped San Diego Padres roster after Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Dodgers instead headed for a 8-1 winextending their recent dominance over the rivalry while claiming their sixth straight win.
“Obviously the anticipation outside of the ballplayers is there,” Roberts said. “But the message has been consistent from us, just focusing on ourselves and playing good baseball.”
This the Dodgers did in the series opener.
They scored for four runs late in the first, twice taking advantage of a bad play from Brandon Drury at third base to leap forward.
They doubled their lead with four more runs in the second, burying Padres starter Sean Manaea on two-run doubles from Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger.
They salted Game 1 of the series from there, receiving five scoreless innings from starting pitcher Tony Gonsolin and little late resistance from their visitors, who entered the series with a flurry of moves on time. .
“They’ve definitely improved,” shortstop Trea Turner said. “But we took care of business tonight.
For Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Josh Hader and Drury – the Padres’ four high-profile additions – it was the first time they had lost to the Dodgers in a maroon and yellow uniform.
For their Padres teammates, however, Friday was nothing new.
The Dodgers are 6-2 against the Padres this year and have won 15 of the last 17 meetings dating back to last year.
They extended their NL West lead to 131/2 games, a seemingly insurmountable advantage with two months remaining in the regular season.
And, intentionally or not, the Dodgers (73-33) delivered what looked like an emphatic rebuke of the Padres’ deadline rush — which was highlighted by their one-upmanship over the Dodgers in a blockbuster move to Soto.
“It is what it is,” Roberts said when asked about the Soto trade. “He’s a great player. It certainly makes our job a little harder, a lot harder. But there’s nothing we can do. We’re not going to run away.”
The Dodger Stadium crowd certainly didn’t.
Barely a week after serenading Soto with “Future Dodger!” chants during his visit as a member of the Nationals, the 23-year-old outfielder was greeted with a chorus of boos on his first trip to home plate on Friday.
It was one of the few times a sold-out crowd of 52,714 did anything other than cheer.
After taking part in the pre-game ceremony – in which Roberts led the stadium reciting Scully’s famous line, ‘It’s time for Dodger baseball’ – they roared to life when Drury threw a grounder loaded with bases in the first, allowing the first two of the short game to score.
They were on their feet again moments later when Hanser Alberto hit a double jump past Drury and down the line for a two-run brace, then once again in the third when Taylor, who was playing his first game in one months due to a broken foot, and Bellinger nailed two-point doubles.
Gonsolin, meanwhile, calmed down after two sluggish first innings, completing his fifth start of at least five shutout innings this season.
And the game was so out of reach in the seventh that Soto was substituted for a few innings of rest.
Friday’s result aside, the Padres (61-48) still appear to be much bigger threats than during their previous visit a month ago, when they were nearly swept in a four-game series during from which their offense scored only eight points in total.
“You definitely have to give a lot of credit to Padres property Peter Seidler,” said Roberts, a former Padres player and coach who said he’s never seen the franchise with so much buzz. “When people talk about the Dodgers and the Padres, National League West, big trades, spending money on big players, I think we all win.”
The Dodgers don’t seem infallible either, with their pitching team taking another hit Friday when starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw was placed on the disabled list with lower back pain – an issue the Dodgers hope to keep the southpaw away for more than about a month.
“He’s definitely frustrated, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Roberts said. “I think his only goal is to do what we can to get him back as soon as possible and healthy.”
For now, though, any thoughts on the Padres challenging the Dodgers’ NL supremacy will have to wait.
Their line-up could be bigger. Their list is undoubtedly deeper.
But on Friday, the Dodgers’ recent torment of the Padres persisted. Even a new Padres roster couldn’t prevent the same.