Last weekend’s series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres was amped up to be one of the most anticipated and touted matchups through the early season; and it was truly an amazing experience to witness live.
Immediately entering the beautiful city of San Diego, emotions were already running high throughout the downtown area, and the chants of “Beat L.A.” echoed from Petco Park all the way up to Oceanside. Luckily on my end, I was able to stay with a close friend who coincidentally lives down the street from the stadium, and being able to hear the chants from both fanbases during the series was simply the cherry on top.
Both teams adjusted their rotations as if they were gearing for a postseason series, and both teams wanted to come out on top not just for supremacy in the division, but for bragging rights in one of baseball’s most up-and-coming rivalries. Friday night’s duel between Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish demonstrated how the Padres were ready to defend their home turf against big brother up North. Just as in Game 4 of last year’s NLDS, the Padres secured the victory off Kershaw, mainly due in part from a two-homer game from Fernando Tatis Jr.
The post-game scene in downtown was electric, and seeing the Padres’ attempts to demoralize Clayton Kershaw via scoreboard only increased my excitement to witness Saturday’s matchup between Dustin May and Blake Snell. What went from an offensive showcase the previous day turned into a pitcher’s duel, with May and Snell shoving through six innings of work each. Chris Taylor’s two-run shot in the fourth inning proved to be the deciding factor for the game, evening up the series at a game apiece.
After Sunday’s clutch victory which featured late-game home runs from Mookie Betts and James Outman, the energy and excitement that had permeated through the entire city abruptly died out, as the dragons up north put the poking bear in brief hibernation. It was almost comical to see a city so full of excitement and arrogance become silenced after just three days, and it proved that the Padres still have work to do if they ever want to overthrow the Dodgers as the true heavyweight in the National League West.
One interesting pointer was simply how accepting Padres fans were. In a city where their rival team filled up almost half the stadium, nobody wearing a Dodgers jersey received any negative attention or vitriol. There were maybe a couple dirty remarks aimed at me, but I was mostly relieved to find out that the hostility of the crowd and city alike were dormant, and it was mostly a very enjoyable experience. I was also able to be seated among a crowd of fellow Dodger fans, which ultimately made me forget that I was at a Padres home game to begin with.
The fire and energy made last weekend’s series so memorable.