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Dodgers and Padres set for showdown No. 3, in San Diego

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The third of six meetings between LA and SD in 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Back in April, the Dodgers and Padres met seven times in 11 days in a pair of electrifying series, befitting the presumed two best teams in the National League. But a lot has happened in the eight weeks since.

Petco Park is the setting for the third meeting between the Dodgers and Padres this season. The anticipation of the matchup remains piqued, with ESPN nationally televising the Monday and Wednesday games of the series. Both teams enter the week looking up in the division at San Francisco, owners of the best record in baseball.

Los Angeles (29-20) and San Diego (29-21) have both done relatively well since their last meeting, both owning a top-three run differential in the National League during that span. The Giants have just been better, 32-18 after April 25, and 46-26 entering Monday, leading the Dodgers by 1½ games and the Padres by five.

“For anyone to think that the Giants would be leading this division I think would be a surprise. But you give those guys credit,” Dave Roberts said. “Farhan [Zaidi, GM], Gabe [Kapler, manager], the coaching staff, the players, what they’ve done, they deserve the credit.

“We’ve got a lot of baseball to play, and they’re relevant this year. They’ve earned that.”

The Dodgers and Padres own the second- and third-best records in the NL.

The series loss at home to the Padres back in April gave the Dodgers their first losing week since 2019, and was the start of a brutal 5-15 stretch, from which they’ve since recovered, even as injuries mounted. San Diego’s skid was more recent, dropping 13 of 17 games before a four-game sweep of the Reds over the weekend at home.

Offense is where the Padres have struggled most, now down to fifth in the NL in runs per game (4.53). Adjusted for park and league, San Diego has a below-average wRC+ (98). Their two worst regulars are Jurickson Profar (.214/.317/.272, 73 wRC+) and Eric Hosmer (.249/.308/.357, 88 wRC+).

Dodgers-Padres schedule

Day Pitchers TV
Day Pitchers TV
Mon Urías (L) v. Darvish SNLA/ESPN
Tue Kershaw (L) v. Snell (L) SNLA/MLBN*
Wed Bauer v. Musgrove SNLA/ESPN
Petco Park, San Diego | all games start at 7:10 p.m. *MLB Network broadcast only available out of market

With Trent Grisham returning and now deftly patrolling center field again, Profar’s playing time has waned, starting only five of the last 11 games. But Hosmer is still in there just about every day at first base. The left-hander homered to tie Friday’s game in the ninth inning, but he’s just 9-for-64 (.141/.191/.203) with two extra-base hits in June.

The Dodgers are expected to get an offensive boost back for at least one, and maybe two games at Petco Park. Max Muncy (right oblique tightness) and Cody Bellinger (left hamstring tightness) are both eligible to be activated from the injured list as early as Tuesday.

“I don’t know which days yet, but both those guys I expect to be activated some time in the next series,” Roberts said Sunday.

On the injury front for the Padres, all-world shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., hitting .285/.364/.675 and leading the NL in home runs (22), slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+ (190) — injured his left shoulder diving for a ball on Saturday and didn’t play the rest of the weekend.

“The testing, everything afterward, the range of motion, strength is pretty good,” manager Jayce Tingler said Saturday, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’ll be day to day. ... We feel like we’re in a fairly decent position. The trainers think it’s nowhere near where it’s been earlier on in the year.”

Tatis missed nine games in April with inflammation in that left shoulder, only to return in time for the first of two series against the Dodgers. He has six home runs in seven games against Los Angeles this season. Tingler told reporters on Sunday he expected Tatis to return to the lineup for Monday’s series opener against Los Angeles, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com.

The pitching matchups are excellent, with Julio Urías vs. Yu Darvish on Monday. After that, the Padres are at least technically TBA for the final two games, but the way they line up means Clayton Kershaw vs. Blake Snell on Tuesday, and Trevor Bauer against Joe Musgrove in the series finale. Every pitcher except Bauer will be starting with an extra day of rest in the series.

Monday is Urías’ first start against the Padres this year. Kershaw and Bauer in four starts have a combined 2.16 ERA in 25 innings, with 31 strikeouts. The three San Diego starters have a 1.98 ERA this year against the Dodgers in five starts, with 36 strikeouts in 27⅓ innings.

If this series is anything like the last two, these next three nights in San Diego should be exciting.