What was supposed to be a national television coming out party for “Dustin May, starting pitcher” instead turned into the most forgettable game of the Dodgers’ young season, a sentiment that will probably persist through the full 162.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Dodgers possessed a 99.9% chance to capture a series split on their home turf, an already-disappointing result against a Padres team that had proven their mettle all weekend long.
Instead, the cavalry teamed up to undo a 7-1 lead in improbable fashion — and without Jimmy Nelson wriggling out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth, this one would’ve been over even sooner.
David Price. Brusdar Graterol. Victor González. Nelson. And, when push came to shove in extras … Garrett Cleavinger. Nary a Kenley Jansen to be found, and Dave Roberts paid the price.
We understand it may be difficult for the rest of the baseball world to get concerned with the Dodgers so early in the season. After all, the slightest of faults with a 110-win potential juggernaut simply cannot matter to the rest of MLB’s fans, who have much bigger fish to fry.
But blowing a six-run lead beginning in the seventh inning against your newest, freshest rival, as all the while Price’s struggles evoke more questions about his bullpen role, qualifies as bad no matter how good you’re supposed to be. Bad. Historically bad. B-A-D.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost a game they could not lose, and Dustin May didn’t get his reward.
Without Corey Knebel and without Joe Kelly — and informally without Jansen, too, whom Roberts intended to stay away from after a four-out save Saturday — Brusdar Graterol was entrusted with a four-run lead in the seventh.
After a slow start to the season thanks to a COVID-19 battle, Graterol clearly wasn’t prepared to be an effective weapon in the moment. He faltered.
Without any other name to call on in the ninth (and with Jansen standing by, stuck behind the glass in something Roberts apparently didn’t deem to be an emergency), Nelson allowed four of the ninth’s first five batters to reach, gave up the final bit of the lead, and then (can’t believe this really happened) reemerged for the 10th and barely survived a second challenge.
May looked phenomenal, leaning on his evolutionary curveball. The Dodgers’ offense, piloted by Chris Taylor, looked patient in the sixth. They’d finally broken down the Padres, and were about to earn a message-sending series split after being down 2-0.
With a chance to “bury” San Diego by blitzing the series or at least winning it, only three games now separate LA from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, and what will surely be the most confusing loss of the season will now reverberate through the entire pennant race.
This was supposed to be a party.