Fernando Tatis Jr. was heavily involved in the San Diego Padres’ 5-3 victory on Monday night, which snapped a modest two-game winning streak the Los Angeles Dodgers took into Petco Park.
First, Tatis began to oddly position himself in front of Corey Seager after he led off the fifth inning with a double. It caused the usually stoic Seager to flash a grin as he remained at second base until Matt Beaty’s one-out single.
“I think they were worried that we were relaying signs from second base,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts surmised after the game. “So they were using him as a way to get in Corey’s way.”
Will Smith eventually drove home Seager and Beaty with a two-run double to the right-center field gap, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. However, it was short-lived as Tatis hit a two-out solo home run in the bottom half of the inning.
It was the third home run Walker Buehler surrendered in his five innings of work. “Tatis hit a breaking ball that was a pretty impressive swing to take a breaking ball like that and hit it the other way with that authority,” Buehler said.
While Tatis showed strength with the swing, he ran into an inning-ending double play in the seventh and bowled over Smith in the process. Tatis inexplicably went back to third base to tag on Manny Machado’s line-drive out to right field.
Joc Pederson threw to home plate for the start of a rundown. Joe Kelly threw to Justin Turner, who chase Tatis before flipping the ball to Smith, who applied the tag as he was laid out. Turner appeared to have words for Tatis before walking back to the dugout, though Roberts dismissed it.
“I think they were just kind of like, ‘Man, what are you doing?’ and he said, ‘Hey, he was in my way’ kind of thing. Nothing really contentious,” Roberts said. “He’s an aggressive player, plays with a lot of intensity. Our guy was there and had the ball but he was in the way.
“That’s just baseball, so we don’t take anything from it.”
Smith echoed much of the same, saying, “I was in a bad position during that rundown. Didn’t really know what lane J.T. was going in, but we got him out and got Joe out of the inning. I didn’t like getting run over but it wasn’t dirty or anything.”
Roberts expected tough series with Padres
San Diego entered the series opener having lost two consecutive games but otherwise off to an encouraging start this season. At 7-4 they have the same record as the Dodgers, and both teams are one game back of the National League West-leading Colorado Rockies.
“I was not surprised,” Roberts said of the close first game. “We expected three good ones this series. Lamet going, Richards on Wednesday, and this is a very talented offensive club. They’re playing well, they’ve got a lot of confidence, so this was no surprise.”
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