The Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to jump to a 2-0 lead against the San Diego Padres in the NLDS and we now officially have a series. San Diego defeated the Dodgers 5-3 in what is the franchise’s first-ever win over Los Angeles in the postseason.
It was a back-and-forth battle early and then the game slowly started to slip away from the Dodgers. San Diego scored off of Brusdar Graterol in the sixth and Blake Treinen in the eighth. Los Angeles was able to get runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth but could not push a single run across against the Padres’ bullpen.
One of the biggest moments of the game came in the bottom of the eighth. With Josh Hader on the mound and runners on first and second with two outs, Cody Bellinger was due up. Bellinger has been the opposite of hot, so it became a clear pinch-hit opportunity against the hard-throwing southpaw.
Dave Roberts called in a pinch-hitter but the person that came to the plate surprised everyone. Of all the team’s options, Roberts called on backup catcher Austin Barnes, who is only on the roster because of the position he plays. Barnes swiftly flew out to center.
Dodgers fans don’t understand Dave Roberts’ baffling decision with Austin Barnes.
The way the Dodgers were hitting on Wednesday night it might not have mattered who pinch-hit; after all, the team went 0-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. That is never going to win playoff baseball games.
But of all the options that the team had, Barnes was probably the worse outside of Joey Gallo. Heck, even Cody Bellinger would have been a better candidate to send to the plate against Hader and that is something.
Chris Taylor is the obvious batter that should be getting that at-bat in a big spot and he has earned it as one of the team’s best October hitters. The only explanation as to why Taylor didn’t get that at bat is that he is not feeling well. Which, if he cannot pinch-hit, why is he even on the roster?
Miguel Vargas would have given the team a promising right-on-left matchup. Yes, Barnes has more experience than Vargas in these spots, but if you don’t trust Vargas in a big spot why is he even on the postseason roster? Vargas is a more talented hitter than Barnes, so the only explanation there has to be his lack of experience…
Or so we thought. Roberts explained his decision after the game, saying that he thought Austin Barnes was the best option in that moment. That might be even worse than blaming it on an injury…
There is a better case for leaving Bellinger out there rather than bringing in Barnes as well. Bellinger has at least seen living pitching and is not coming off the bench cold. It is not like Barnes is much better than Bellinger and he also has not seen live pitching in almost two weeks. But that is the team’s best option?
Was it the main reason the Dodgers lost this game? No. The lack of situational hitting lost the game for the Dodgers. If the team just delivers one or two more base hits in key spots they could have scored 7-8 runs in this ballgame.
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But is it an ugly mark on the game that is only going to make fans more upset with Dave Roberts? Absolutely.