The San Diego Padres biggest rival is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The team from up the freeway has always been a team that Padres fans love to hate, especially when it is the start of a new season and everyone is ready to watch Padres baseball. For the fourth consecutive year, the Padres will play the Dodgers on opening day.
The game is set for Monday, April 3, 2017, at Dodger Stadium. This will be the 12th time that the rivals face each other on opening day, and the seventh time it will be played at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have had the edge in the previous 11 encounters, winning seven games, to the Padres four and have also taken the past two games between the two teams on opening day. The Dodgers will go into this opening series as the clear favorites, but it will still be interesting to see who is on the mound for the Friars and how they can do in this encounter.
April 6, 1973, San Diego Stadium
1973 was the first time the San Diego Padres played against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day. Hall of Famer, Don Sutton was the man on the mound for the Dodgers, while Clay Kirby was the opening day starter for the Friars. The game started off as a great pitching duel with no runs after four innings. The Dodgers were the first team to breach the score in the fifth inning of the game. A single by Manny Mota allowed Bill Russell to score and make it a 1-0 game for the away team.
The game stayed quiet up until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Leron Lee would get an RBI off Don Sutton to score Enzo Hernandez from second base. The intense pitching duel continued at San Diego Stadium, with no more runs scored up until the bottom of the eighth inning. Don Sutton witnessed Déjà vu as in the sixth inning of the encounter, Leron Lee achieved another RBI single to drive in Enzo Hernandez from second base. After that, the Hall of Fame pitcher was replaced by George Culver, and the game turned from bad to worse for Walter Alston’s team. An error allowed Johnny Grubb to score, to make it 3-1 San Diego, then Dave Hilton drove in Leron Lee to give the Padres a 4-1 lead.
The Friars went into the ninth inning with a 4-1 lead, but The Boys in Blue received a glimmer of hope instantly as catcher, Joe Ferguson homered off Clay Kirby to make it 4-2. After Kirby walked Von Joshua, Don Zimmer took no more chances and put in Vicente Romo to close out the game. The Mexican pitcher did the job, and the Padres came out with the 4-2 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day.
April 5, 1974, Dodger Stadium
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Don Sutton achieved their revenge on the San Diego Padres after that 1973 opening day loss, in opening day 1974. The game was a lopsided 8-0 victory for the Dodgers in front of a home crowd. Don Sutton pitched a gem, hurling a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts, two walks and six hits allowed. In contrast to Sutton, Bill Grief had a rough day on the mound for the Friars, allowing four runs on seven hits through three and a third innings pitched. The relief core was not much better for John McNamara, as Mike Corkins and Joe McIntosh allowed four runs on eight hits after Grief was relieved of his duties.
The main contributors offensively for Walt Alston turned out to be Jimmy Wynn and Ron Cey who obtained three RBI each, Wynn getting a two-run home run off Mike Corkins in the sixth inning. Bill Buckner and Van Joshua also contributed with a RBI each, the game ending in a dreadful 8-0 defeat for the Friars. The result was not easily forgotten either as the Padres were swept by the Dodgers in the three-game series, falling 8-0 in game two and 9-2 in the third game of the series to complete the sweep. The Padres were also swept in the following series against the Houston Astros and would not get their first win of the year until their seventh game of the season, beating the San Francisco Giants 3-2.
April 5, 1979, Dodger Stadium
The next time these two teams faced each other on opening day would not be until the 1979 campaign. Another Hall of Fame pitcher would be on the mound, but this time for the Friars, in Gaylord Perry. The veteran had no easy opponent in the encounter facing Burt Hooten, who had thrown a no-hitter back in 1972 and had already had a few impressive seasons with the Dodgers already. The pitching match-up did not disappoint, delivering an intense duel between two experienced veterans. The first run of the game came in the top of the fourth inning for the San Diego Padres, Dave Winfield opened the inning with a double with one out. Jerry Turner then drove in Winfield with a single and the Friars came out of the fourth with the slight 1-0 advantage.
The pitching duel continued up until the seventh inning where both teams started to produce some runs. Padres’ second baseman, Fernando Gonzalez went yard on Hooten to make it a 2-0 game. Tommy Lasorda’s team would pull it back in the bottom half of the inning, getting two runs via a Ron Cey two-run blast. The game was all square after seven innings at Dodger Stadium with a 2-2 score line. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Burt Hooten came up big for The Boys in Blue, providing a double with two outs. Gaylord Perry got in a heap of trouble after the double as Bill Russell provided a RBI single to drive in Hooten and make it a 3-2 game for the Dodgers.
Defeat seemed inevitable for Roger Craig’s men, but the Friars managed to pull it back in the top of the ninth inning. Barry Evans started it off with a double, then Gene Tenace and Kurt Bevacqua received walks to load up the bases with only one out. Lance Rautzhan replaced Burt Hooten and allowed a single to Gene Richards making it a 3-2 game. Rautzhan also threw a wild pitch with 24-year-old, Ozzie Smith at the plate to make it a 4-3 encounter. The Padres walked out of the top of the ninth with a 4-3 lead and Rollie Fingers maintained it in the bottom half of the inning to close out the game and get the Friars the opening day victory.
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