There was legitimate concern surrounding Gavin Lux heading into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ NLDS matchup against the San Diego Padres. Lux, who suffered a neck injury late in the year and missed a few weeks of action, returned on Sept. 17 and played in the team’s final 14 games.
But the results weren’t good. Lux saw his average drop from .293 to .276 and his OPS from .789 to .745. He also committed a few errors at second base. It was unclear if he’d be “ready” for October baseball as it was fast approaching.
That was all put to rest on Tuesday night in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Pads in Game 1. Though Lux only went 1-for-4, his clutch two-out RBI double extended the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0 and chased Mike Clevinger from the game. That set the table for the Dodgers to load the bases and score their fifth and final run of the game on an error after Cody Bellinger put the ball in play.
Though that played a big role in kicking the Padres while they were down, Lux’s huge defensive play in the top of the sixth when San Diego was threatening made all the difference.
In the top of the fifth, the Pads scored three runs after the first three batters of the inning reached base. In the top of the sixth, the first two reached, with Juan Soto walking and Manny Machado reaching on an infield single. Evan Phillips then struck out Josh Bell, and Lux made this incredible play to turn two on a screamer off the bat of Wil Myers.
Gavin Lux’s bat and glove saved the Dodgers in NLDS Game 1 vs the Padres
Lux snagged that rocket on one hop and in one motion turned, rifled the ball to Trea Turner at second base, who caught it in stride, stepped on the bag, and delivered a strike to Freddie Freeman to complete the double play to end the inning.
After that, the Padres didn’t score a single run and only registered two baserunners in the final three frames against Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol and Chris Martin.
Otherwise, it was a rather unspectacular night for the Dodgers. Only four players recorded hits, they worked only four walks, and Julio Urías allowed three earned runs in his five innings of work. It wasn’t the prettiest, but a win is a win. The Dodgers set the tone early and Lux came through in two particular instances where the team needed a play to be made.
Earlier in the year, it was widely discussed that Lux could be a playoff X-factor for LA. He was one of the best hitters in the National League and was lengthening the Dodgers’ lineup in a way that made them even more dominant.
Though there was worry after his 14 games following injury, Lux may have rediscovered himself and boosted his confidence with one swing of the bat and one defensive play on Tuesday night.