LOS ANGELES — Nothing will ever take away from the San Diego Padres’ inspired triumph last October, but the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dominance over them — during the regular season, at least — continues.
Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Dodger Stadium marked the 11th consecutive time the Padres have lost a regular-season series to the Dodgers, dating to the 2021 season. The Padres went 5-14 against the Dodgers last season before defeating Los Angeles in four games during the National League Division Series.
Despite signing Xander Bogaerts for a 2023 season that would also feature the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres have lost four of their first five games this season against their bitter division rivals.
Joe Musgrove, the losing pitcher Saturday for San Diego, is “tired of hearing that s—.”
“I think we, as a group in here, got to stop talking about these guys like they’re that unbeatable force,” Musgrove said. “We beat these guys in the playoffs, we beat them in big situations. We’re just not playing very well right now.”
The Padres, who have Major League Baseball’s third-highest payroll, enter Sunday’s series finale six games behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West with a 19-21 record this season and a minus-6 run differential.
“We feel like we have a better team than them,” Musgrove said. “We’re just not playing to our capabilities right now on both sides of the ball.
“We’re giving up timely hits to their hitters, we’re not getting the timely hits on our side. Baseball’s not that difficult of a sport. We know what needs to be done — we’re just not doing what we need to do.”
The biggest culprit has been San Diego’s highly touted offense, which ranked 18th in the majors in OPS and 25th in runs per game as of Sunday morning. The Padres’ .203 batting average with runners in scoring position is the worst in the majors.
“We just got to go out there and keep playing, keep grinding,” Padres outfielder Juan Soto said. “I really don’t know what can help to fix this stuff.”
Soto, who has regained his form offensively in recent weeks, joined Ha-Seong Kim in providing the solo home runs that accounted for all of the Padres’ offensive production Saturday against Julio Urias and the Dodgers’ bullpen. The rest of the lineup went a combined 2-for-26, with both of those hits coming in the ninth inning.
The Padres have dropped back-to-back series against the Dodgers on back-to-back weekends, though each of those first five games was decided by three runs or fewer. If not for a ninth-inning, two-out, game-tying home run from Mookie Betts last Sunday, the Padres would have won the first series.
“All these games have been close,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re one pitch away from taking the series at our place, and the first two games here they just played better than we did and got bigger hits.”
The Padres and Dodgers won’t meet again until August and will end up playing only 13 regular-season games against one another because of MLB’s balanced schedule this season.