The first matchup between the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in 2021 brought more fireworks than anyone expected.
This one went into extras after each club scored a run in the ninth (and five combined in the eighth and ninth).
There were 24 total hits. Seventeen total runs. Six total errors!
And, best of all, a benches-clearing incident to keep the high tensions right on track.
The Dodgers came out on top 11-6 after exploding for five runs in the top of the 12th, which was kicked off with a Corey Seager two-run jack, reminding the Pads that there’s much more to a 162-game campaign than a flashy offseason.
We can expect another dogfight on Saturday when Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish face off in a battle of the aces. And don’t be surprised if a Dodgers hitter gets plunked after what we saw in the 10th inning on Friday.
Dodgers reliever Dennis Santana beaned Padres outfielder Jorge Mateo and then the two exchanged words, prompting the benches to clear in an instant. It appears Santana was the instigator, too, because Mateo was walking slowly to first base before shifting his attention to the reliever and walking toward him.
After everyone calmed down and play resumed, Santana walked another batter, which loaded the bases for Fernando Tatis Jr., who was playing in his first game back since suffering a scary-looking injury on April 6. Though the slugger went yard earlier in the game, Santana struck him out, paving the way for a Dodgers victory two innings later.
His celebration after getting the big out was electrifying, too.
Can any of this possibly set the tone better for this rivalry in 2021? The Dodgers are the reigning World Series champs, the Padres revamped their roster to have one of the most promising in the league, and both clubs are the best bets in the National League to make the playoffs. This the kind of energy fans were hoping for right from the jump. Baseball is back for a full slate. Fans have returned to the stands. The excitement as a result of what we’ve been deprived of since 2019 is everything we had hoped for.
The Dodgers already made a statement lining up their three best pitchers for this series, and then went ahead and did this in the opener.
We have 18 more of these matchups. Buckle up.