The first two games of the National League Division Series featured momentum-turning double plays in the sixth inning, the defensive ledger reading much like the best-of-five series between the Dodgers and San Diego Padres: tied at one.
Tuesday night, it was Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux who snagged Wil Myers’ 100-mph one-hopper to his left, spun 360 degrees and fired to shortstop Trea Turner, who avoided the sliding Manny Machado and fired to first for an inning-ending double play to preserve a two-run lead in a 5-3 win.
Wednesday night, it was Padres second baseman Jake Cronenworth who fielded Lux’s sixth-inning grounder and shoveled a back-hand flip to shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, whose throw to first completed a double play that helped San Diego escape a first-and-third, no-out jam and preserve a one-run lead.
Padres reliever Robert Suarez, who struck out Justin Turner with a 101-mph fastball for the first out of the sixth, wiggled out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh, and San Diego held on for a 5-3 Game 2 victory before 53,122 in Dodger Stadium, tying the series 1-1.
“That was the pivotal play of the game,” Cronenworth said. “Gavin is a good runner, and he didn’t hit it hard, he didn’t hit it soft, it was kind of a tweener speed. So you gotta attack it and get it to Kim as fast as you can. He’s got a great arm and he was able to finish it.”
Suarez, the 31-year-old rookie from Venezuela who played the previous five seasons in Japan, bailed out Padres ace Yu Darvish from that sixth-inning jam, but he got himself into trouble in the seventh when Cody Bellinger singled with one out and Betts doubled to left-center to put runners on second and third.
But Suarez got Trea Turner to ground out to Machado at third, the runners holding. Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Will Smith flied out to center field, the Padres holding their 4-3 lead.
“He got out of two big jams there,” Machado said of Suarez. “He came in for Yu with first-and-third and got out of it, which was huge. Then he created one in the next inning and got out of it—I think that was the big difference in the game. If they score even one run there, I think the game changes big-time.”