Tatis returns and Padres-Dodgers give us a look at what could be an epic summer

Fernando Tatis Jr. came back from injury and the Padres and Dodgers battled for 12 innings.
Fernando Tatis Jr. came back from injury and the Padres and Dodgers battled for 12 innings.
Image: Getty Images

Fernando Tatis Jr. returned to the Padres’ lineup on Friday night, 10 days after all of baseball got its stomach tied up in knots seeing the 22-year-old star suffer a partially dislocated left shoulder.

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It looks like his shoulder is OK. And with that, and the way the Dodgers and Padres played, so is baseball.

That was just the beginning of a wild night. Aside from Tatis’ blast, the only run the Padres could get off Walker Buehler in six innings was on Luis Campusano’s RBI single in the second inning. While Los Angeles couldn’t solve Ryan Weathers, the Dodgers’ juggernaut lineup wore him out to the tune of 79 pitches in 3.2 innings.

That led to a battle of bullpens and a wild night that included the Dodgers taking the lead on a Tatis throwing error after he’d made a great stop on what was rightly ruled an infield single for Chris Taylor, then the Padres inching closer when Tatis hustled to beat out a potential double play and Zach McKinstry’s error allowed Ha-Seong Kim to score, and San Diego rallying to tie the score in the eighth inning on a two-run double by Jurickson Profar.

The Dodgers reclaiming the lead on a Justin Turner single that brought home Mookie Betts meant that Tatis represented the tying run when he batted against Kenley Jansen leading off the bottom of the ninth. Alas, Tatis popped up. Jansen then struck out Jake Cronenworth, but Manny Machado drew a walk to keep the game alive.

Machado appeared to hurt himself at some point in his plate appearance, and got attention from the trainer at first base, but then he stole second, and moved to third on a wild pitch, continuing to wince. Eric Hosmer singled past a diving McKinstry to plate the tying run, and then… Wil Myers struck out and the evening proceeded to the Rob Manfred Shootout.

Even that couldn’t ruin this game, as in the bottom of the 10th, Dennis Santana hit Jorge Mateo with a pitch, and though it didn’t seem intentional with the winning run on third base, there was an exchange of words as Mateo made his way to first, and the benches and bullpens cleared.

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The lineup came back around to Tatis with the bases loaded and two outs… and he went down swinging.

Thanks to the vomitorious extra-innings ghost runner rule, that did mean Tatis started the bottom of the 11th on second base, moved up on Cronenworth’s well-directed grounder to the right side… and got stranded on third after David Price struck out Hosmer and Myers back-to-back.

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Corey Seager finally got a run home in extras with a two-run shot on the first pitch of the 12th, and then the wheels came off for the Padres, including another error by Tatis. The reason for MLB’s ridiculous extra-innings rule came into sharper focus when the Padres, out of relievers and position players, sent no-hit hero Joe Musgrove to left field, brough Profar in to play second base, and put Cronenworth on the mound. That went sour for San Diego when Cronenworth got Luke Raley to hit a grounder to first, but the infielder-pitcher didn’t get over quickly enough to get the throw from Hosmer. At least Musgrove was able to reel in the fly ball that Price then hit, but that also resulted in an RBI on the first sacrifice fly of the 2012 American League Cy Young winner’s career — and the first run driven in by a Dodgers pitcher in extra innings since 1996, when Chan Ho Park drew a bases-loaded walk from Terry Adams for what proved to be the winning run at Wrigley Field.

In Price’s case, the sac fly capped a five-run inning, and he returned to the mound to close out Los Angeles’ 12th win in 14 games to start the season, 11-6.

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This is just the beginning of the Dodgers and Padres in 2021. They still have another 18 games left against each other, half of those between the last week of August and the end of the season.

Summer in Southern California looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Especially with a healthy Tatis.