Wednesday's Dodgers-Padres game is the sort of game is a game that both teams simply HAVE to win, because the thought of losing a nearly 6 hour slog where both teams used virtually every player on their roster is simply unbearable.
Luckily, the Dodgers somehow overcame an abysmal offensive showing managed to beat the Padres in 16 innings, in a game that had, well, just about everything. Walker Buehler absolutely shoved, per usual, giving up only an unearned run over 6.2 innings and striking out 8 while walking one. However, Blake Snell did the same, absolutely carving through the Dodgers' vaunted lineup for nearly 8 innings before Will Smith took him deep to tie the score at 1-1.
After that, well, the game was both incredibly exciting and remarkably boring. Both bullpens dealt into the 15th inning. Some highlights include Kenley Jansen recording his 1,000th career strikeout after a tremendous 9th inning after throwing 24 pitches on Tuesday. Alex Vesia pitched a typically dominant top of the 10th inning and lost his mind after keeping the game scoreless. Vesia, since he was recalled from AAA and started throwing strikes, has been undoubtedly one of the best relievers in baseball. Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, and Brusdar Graterol (2 IP) then kept the game scoreless to the 15th inning.
An interesting side note about this game is that the Dodgers intentionally walked the Padres EIGHT times because the pitcher's spot was due up 5th, after Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth. Multiple times the Dodgers simply walked both of them with 2 outs to load the bases against a San Diego pitcher. Even though the Padres were out of position players by this point and a pitcher would 100% have to hit, I was a little nervous about the move considering loading the bases in a potential walk-off situation is pretty risky because it leaves the pitcher with 0 room for something like a walk, hit-by-pitch, or wild pitch. However, to Roberts' (and the bullpen's) credit, it worked.
Unfortunately, this chess match was necessary because the Dodgers offense was simply lost until the 15th inning, when pinch-hitter Billy McKinney singled in a run and then Trea Turner did the same. There was life.
Naturally, Fernando Tatis Jr. immediately homered off Corey Knebel to tie the game, but thankfully AJ Pollock saved the day in the top of the 16th, hitting his own 2 run home run.
Shane Greene, the only man left in the Dodgers' bullpen at this point, who is having a horrid season that continued in his 1 outing as a Dodgers prior to this game, entered in the bottom of the 16th inning and looked, well, like he did as an All-Star closer in 2019, striking out Eric Hosmer and Tommy Pham with some nasty change-ups and getting Adam Frazier to ground out to shortstop. If Greene can pitch like that consistently, the Dodgers have another relief ace up their sleeve.
Without this magnificent performance from the bullpen (minus Corey Knebel, who has given up homers in consecutive outings), there is a 0% chance the Dodgers win this game due to their amenic offensive performance. This continues a trend of dominant from the bullpen since, really, the All-Star Break.
While all the Dodgers are really doing right now is keeping pace with the Giants, if they keep winning as they have been for the last 2-3 weeks, they're in good shape to catch San Fransisco and capture their 9th consecutive division title.