Hat thrown, kiss blown: SD-LA gets heated

October 8th, 2020

The Dodgers and Padres have butted heads this year over home-plate collisions and colossal homers. Bat flips and heated words now come with the territory. But Game 2 of the National League Division Series introduced a few new elements to this NL West showdown: cap flips and … kisses?

The way their rivalry developed during the regular season, it was only a matter of time before tempers flared between the Dodgers and Padres in the National League Division Series. The moment arrived in the seventh inning of Los Angeles' 6-5 win on Wednesday night, just after Cody Bellinger made an amazing catch to rob Fernando Tatis Jr. of a go-ahead home run.

Dodgers reliever couldn’t hide his excitement, throwing his glove then flinging his cap like a frisbee after Bellinger brought down the ball. That apparently didn’t sit well with , who was on deck to hit after Tatis. Machado chirped at Graterol, who waved and blew kisses at the Padres’ third baseman.

"Obviously, it was a big play. We all know that Brusdar is very emotional, and he just kind of was caught up in the moment and was really celebrating Cody's play,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think Manny took exception to it. That was it, but I think it's over."

Machado kept shouting at the Dodgers’ dugout, where Max Muncy and Mookie Betts appeared to wave him back toward the Padres’ bench. The moment passed, however, even as Machado faced Graterol to begin the eighth inning. Machado hit a hard grounder up the middle, and the only interaction between him and Graterol appeared to be a few words from the pitcher as Machado trotted back to the dugout.

During a postgame interview, Los Angeles right fielder Mookie Betts described the 22-year-old Graterol as a competitor who “loves to have fun, but he’s definitely fierce when he’s up on that mound, and he shows some emotion, too.” So the Dodgers felt like Graterol’s celebration was just a glimpse of the hard-throwing right-hander’s personality after a game-changing play, not a case of him trying to show up his opponent.

“I mean, I just feel like when [Machado] hit his home run, he threw his bat and this, that and the other,” Betts said on FS1. “And when we take one away, we can celebrate, too. It’s got to be two sides to it. That’s just what I was saying.”

Graterol’s cap flip wasn’t the first show of emotion in Wednesday’s game, either. Machado, coincidentally enough, flung his bat back toward the Padres’ dugout and shouted to fire up his teammates after taking Clayton Kershaw deep to left field in the sixth.

“The game’s different nowadays. I think fans want to see more emotion, especially in playoff series, especially in a rivalry series like this,” said Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, who followed Machado’s solo shot with one of his own. “When you get the best competitors from all over the world on the biggest stage, you’re going to show a lot of emotion, you’re going to show a lot of excitement.

“Nothing got out of hand. Guys were just sticking up for each other, for their teams. We just continued on with the game. That’s just baseball. That’s what it is nowadays. It’s a new age. It’s a new era. I didn’t see anything wrong with either Manny’s bat flip or what Graterol did with his glove or his hat.”

And this wasn’t the first time these NL West rivals have barked back and forth this season. Far from it. They’ve taken issue with each other dating back to Aug. 3, when Tatis slammed into Dodgers catcher Will Smith during a rundown.

On Sept. 14, Trent Grisham hit a game-tying homer off Kershaw and paused to soak in the moment with his teammates. The Dodgers took issue with that, as Roberts said Kershaw deserved more respect.

But that moment, and the Padres’ 7-2 win, served as what Betts called a punch in the mouth for the Dodgers. Los Angeles then rolled to 10 wins in its final 12 regular-season games, and it has now won four straight games to begin the postseason.

Wednesday night will be remembered more for the dramatic moments in between the lines: Bellinger’s grab, the Padres’ back-to-back homers and the Dodgers’ high-wire act in the ninth inning. But their brief back-and-forth in Game 2 showed this is clearly a rivalry well-suited for the October stage.

“Everybody’s different. Everybody has a different personality. Especially in playoffs, emotions come into play,” Padres starter Zach Davies said. “I think it’s one of those things that just shows how much [Machado] wants to win a ballgame and how much he wants to perform and show the type of player that he is.

“At the end of the day, we lost the ballgame that we were fighting for. Again, I think that fire’s just going to come out tomorrow and for the next three games.”