Fernando Tatis Jr. completed a family ritual, hitting two home runs in the Padres’ 6-1 win over the Dodgers on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Friday was the 22nd anniversary of Fernando Tatis Sr. hitting two grand slams in one inning at Dodger Stadium, amazingly both hit against Chan Ho Park. That was the only time Tatis Sr. played in Los Angeles on April 23, but he made the most of his trips here, slamming six home runs and driving in 15 runs in 11 career games at Chavez Ravine.
Fernando Tatis Jr. on Friday was playing his first April 23 game at Dodger Stadium, and began his right of passage with a 431-foot blast in the third inning, immediately GIFable for Clayton Kershaw’s reaction. Then in the fifth inning, Tatis hit a ball even harder, 115.9 mph, this one down the left field line.
.@tatis_jr to the moon. pic.twitter.com/E8Kj4PwoTZ— MLB (@MLB) April 24, 2021
Fernando @tatis_jr is something special.#HungryForMore pic.twitter.com/ubJGLB88yV— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 24, 2021
That’s two times someone named Fernando Tatis has played a game at Dodger Stadium on April 23. Both times, they hit two home runs. Not only that, but per Elias the Tatises are the only father/son duo with multi-homer games at the same ballpark on the same calendar date, as passed along by Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune.
#Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. on his dad's two grand slam game: "Well, I was two months old when he did it."— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 24, 2021
Said he knew today was the anniversary. "The baseball gods were in my favor."
Luckily for Kershaw, these Tatis home runs were not grand slams, but rather solo shots. Wil Myers also hit a solo home run in the second inning, accounting for the only three runs against Kershaw in his seven innings.
Kershaw entered the game with no home runs allowed in his first four starts.
Kershaw also struck out seven, and pitched the Dodgers’ 14th quality start in 20 games this season, four more than any other team. Kershaw was also the first one to get hung with the loss in a quality start, after Dodgers starters won the first eight decisions in such games this season.
It didn’t help that Kershaw had one of the Dodgers’ only four hits against Yu Darvish, a stat even more damning when those four hits represented double the Dodgers’ previous high against a Padres starting pitcher this season.
The offensive night was embodied by Mookie Betts, who entered Friday just 6-for-29 (.207/.343/.379) since returning from missing four games with back stiffness, but got things started with a double on the second pitch of the game.
“We certainly go when Mookie goes,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “I do see that there’s pitches in the strike zone that he usually puts a little more barrel on it. But he’s a special player, he’s going to get going again.”
Even with the slump, Betts on the season has reached base in all 13 games in which he’s batted, and he’s scored in 10 of those games.
But two other at-bats by Betts showed the glaring difference between the two teams at the moment on defense. On a night the Dodgers committed two errors — a misplay by Justin Turner at third base, and a drop by Corey Seager on a pickoff — the Padres made two huge plays, both with Betts at the plate.
First came a bloop to shallow left in the fifth, a ball Baseball Savant tagged for an .830 expected batting average. Instead, it was caught by a sliding Tommy Pham, who threw to first to double off Kershaw.
Then in the seventh inning with the tying runs on base, Betts lined a ball seemingly ticketed for left field, this one with a .770 expected batting average. But the rally was Machado about nothing, thanks to an incredible leaping snag by Manny Machado, undeterred by a night full of boos in his direction from the Dodger Stadium crowd.
MANNY! pic.twitter.com/94PqnHpBlZ— MLB (@MLB) April 24, 2021
“It’s certainly got to get better,” Roberts said. “It’s just not what we’re used to doing, as far as playing clean baseball defensively.”
- The Dodgers have scored 11 runs in their last six games, going 2-4.
- Corey Knebel faced one batter in the ninth inning, walking Wil Myers, but grimaced on his fifth and final pitch, and left the game with a trainer.
- DJ Peters grounded out in the ninth, making his major league debut. He’s the 12th player drafted and signed by the Dodgers in 2016 to play in the majors.
- Tatis Jr. has four career multi-homer games. Two are at Dodger Stadium, with the other game coming on July 7, 2019.
- Myers’ home run in the second inning snapped Kershaw’s scoreless string at 19 consecutive innings, the sixth-longest streak within the same season in Kershaw’s career.
- Another Tatis fun fact, on the 22nd anniversary of his father’s two-slam game, courtesy of Jay Jaffe:
As has been pointed out to me, this is being done by a 22-year-old hitter against #22. “Deuces wild,” as Vin Scully would say https://t.co/j7EcbNjI5Q— Jay Jaffe (@jay_jaffe) April 24, 2021
Home runs: Wil Myers (4), Fernando Tatis Jr. 2 (4)
WP — Yu Darvish (2-1): 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
LP — Clayton Kershaw (3-2): 7 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Saturday starts an hour earlier than the first two games of the series (6:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Trevor Bauer and Blake Snell on the mound.