The Dodgers led the Padres for most of their game on Saturday, but with two outs in the ninth inning a two-run single by Webster Rivas — a former Dodgers minor league catcher — gave us the most fitting result possible in exhibition baseball.
Think about it. Spring training games don’t count. They exist for players to get practice reps in preparation for the regular season, and spring training lasts as long as it does so starting pitchers can properly build up their arm strength to last reasonably deep into games, as much as that is allowed these days, anyway.
Exhibition games almost always end with wholesale substitutions at all nine positions for each team, with major league regulars having long since finished their days. The standings don’t affect anything in a material sense, other than the classic (and perhaps apocryphal) tales of managers convincing rookies that winning a Cactus League batting title or something similar garnered a new television as a prize.
Most Dodgers ties in a single spring training
Since the games don’t count, and it truly doesn’t matter who wins, it has long been my stance that every single spring training game should end in a tie. We’re not supposed to root as members of the press, but rooting for a tie is the most neutral result possible.
This one on Saturday ended 4-4, two days after the D-backs scored an equalizer in the final inning of a 7-7 game in seven innings. The Dodgers also tied the Giants 1-1 on March 2, the Reds 4-4 on March 3, and tied the Mariners 4-4 on March 11, giving them five ties this spring.
The team record — some, okay one, might argue one of the most vaunted marks in franchise history — is eight ties, set in 2015. I haven’t been able to confirm if this is the major league record for ties in one spring training, but I have yet to find another team with that many, dare I say, optimal outcomes in one year.
Dave Roberts, who has amassed 15 spring training ties in six years at the helm, mercifully chuckled when I asked him about approaching the Dodgers tie record, indulging my frivolities with more patience than it probably deserved.
“I like winning,” Roberts said with a smile. “But I guess a tie is better than losing.”
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I’m close to converting Roberts on the benefits of ties. The Dodgers have six games remaining in Arizona before returning to Southern California for the three-game Freeway Series with the Angels. That’s nine more opportunities to get at least three more ties. I think they have it in them.
- Dustin May struck out seven in his 3⅔ innings, allowing one run, and finding particular success with his four-seam fastball and curve. “I thought it was his best [outing] yet,” Roberts said. “His fastball command to all quadrants was really good. I thought it was the best feel he had with his curveball, and his cutter had action, too.”
- A.J. Pollock was 3-for-3 with a home run, double, and single on Saturday.
- Clayton Kershaw will pitch in a B game on Sunday, and is expected to pitch five innings, while Tony Gonsolin starts the Cactus League game against the Giants.
- The Dodgers will use Camelback Ranch as their alternate training site in the interim between the major league season starting and the Triple-A schedule starting in the first week of May. Each team is allowed to keep 28 players on its Triple-A/alternate training site list once the season begins.