Monday night at Petco Park, the San Diego Padres and defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers renewed what has quickly become the most entertaining rivalry in baseball. The two NL West rivals played seven exhilarating games in April, and they resumed their season series with the opener of a three-game series Monday night. Thanks to a big first inning and a dominant performance from their starting pitcher, the Padres walked away with a 6-2 win (box score).
At 43-32, the Padres are 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants and 2 1/2 games behind the second-place Dodgers in the NL West. Monday's win was San Diego's fifth in a row, and it snapped the Dodgers' three-game winning streak.
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Here are four takeaways from Monday night's series opener at Petco Park.
Machado broke the game open early
The Padres wasted no time jumping on Dodgers lefty Julio Urías. The first four batters reached base, and the fourth of those four batters was Manny Machado. He clobbered a three-run home run to left field to gave San Diego a 4-0 lead before it even made the first out.
Petco Park returned to 100 percent last week and the crowd predictably went wild as soon as Machado connected. "Beat L! A!" chants could be heard all night, and although I have no horse in this race, it was great to hear. I won't ever take butts in the seats for granted after last year. Fans make sports fun.
Anyway, the Padres sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and had Urías on the ropes. Give him credit though. Urías settled down and kept San Diego off the board in the second, third, and fourth innings. Jake Cronenworth then got to him for a two-run homer in the fifth inning to push the Padres' lead to 6-1.
Going into Monday's game Machado was hitting .250/.335/.442 with 10 home runs on the season. He owns a .297/.351/.547 batting line in June.
Darvish made history
Padres ace Yu Darvish had a whale of a game. He struck out 11 Dodgers in six innings, and at one point he struck out seven consecutive batters. The only blemish on his line is a Mookie Betts solo home run. Darvish was masterful.
Darvish's 11th strikeout was also his 1,500th major league strikeout. Steven Souza Jr. was on the wrong end of the milestone strikeout. Here's the video:
Monday was Darvish's 197th career MLB start and he is the first pitcher in history to reach 1,500 career strikeouts in fewer than 200 career games. Hall of Famer Randy Johnson held the previous record for fewest games to 1,500 career strikeouts at 206.
Prior to jumping to MLB, Darvish struck out 1,250 batters in parts of seven seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. His career 11.1 K/9 is the highest in MLB history among pitchers with at least 1,000 career innings.
In three starts this season Darvish has held the Dodgers, his former team, to three runs on seven hits and six walks in 20 innings. He's struck out 29.
San Diego ran wild again
No team in baseball runs the bases like the Padres. They went into Monday's game with 68 stolen bases on the season, far and away the most in baseball (the Royals are second with 50), and they added two more steals in the series opener from Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.
The Dodgers, it should be noted, are baseball's worst team at preventing stolen bases. They had allowed 57 steals going into Monday's game, 10 more than any other team. The Padres have 21 steals in only eight games against Los Angeles this year. San Diego identified a weakness and they have exploited it expertly.
The Padres have the edge in the season series
The Dodgers and Padres played two very memorable, very exciting series way back in April. The Dodgers took two of three in San Diego from April 16-18 before the Padres took three of four in Los Angeles from April 22-25. Tatis had an enormous series at Dodger Stadium and even mocked reigning NL Cy Young winning Trevor Bauer.
With the win Monday night, the Padres are now 5-3 against the Dodgers this season, and they've won five of their last six meetings overall. In those six games they've outscored Los Angeles 34-19. The Padres and Dodgers will play two more games this week, and they have another three series remaining this year: Aug. 24-26 at Petco Park, and Sept. 10-12 and Sept. 28-30 at Dodger Stadium.