Top moments in Dodgers-Padres rivalry

October 11th, 2022

The Dodgers and Padres have shared a division (and Southern California proximity) for more than five decades. For most of that time, it's been hard to call this a "rivalry" -- whatever that word means, anyway. Lately, it'd be hard to call it anything else.

The Padres and Dodgers have emerged as National League heavyweights, and when they get together, it's can't-miss TV. It hasn't always been that way, but these two sides have seen their share of memorable moments over the years. Here are some of the most memorable:

August 2022: New look, same result
The Padres dominated the headlines during the Trade Deadline, acquiring Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader. But a week later, the Dodgers made sure to remind the Padres that they were still the class of the National League West in 2022.

Los Angeles came out and swept San Diego in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, outscoring the Padres 20-4 in the process. It was a good summary of what the Dodgers did to the Padres during the regular season overall, winning 14 of the 19 meetings. 

“No one cares that we won 111 games starting [Tuesday] or what the head-to-head matchups were during the season,” said Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman. “It’s what you can do tomorrow, the next day, and the next day.”

April 2021: Early-season fireworks

The seven games between the Padres and Dodgers in April lived up to the billing. All seven were decided by the slimmest of margins with memorable moments galore. There was Mookie Betts’ game-winning catch. A wild game-saving double play turned by the Padres. Two benches-clearing incidents. And all the Fernando Tatis Jr. storylines you could possibly ask for. Tatis homered twice against Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, 22 years to the day since his father had famously hit two grand slams in an inning at the same venue. The next day, he homered twice against Trevor Bauer and mimicked two of Bauer’s signature celebrations. After the game, a video surfaced that purported to show Tatis looking at Dodgers catcher Will Smith’s signs before his second homer. Bauer shared the video and noted that if Tatis was doing so, he’d consider it “disrespecting your opponent.” The Padres vehemently denied the allegation.

2020-21 offseason: An NL West arms race

The Padres and Dodgers spent the winter doing their best to one-up each other. In the process, they built arguably the sport's two best rosters. In December, the Padres traded for Blake Snell and Yu Darvish -- on the very same day. In February, the Dodgers signed Trevor Bauer -- perhaps an acknowledgement they needed to do all they could to stay ahead of San Diego. The Padres would respond a few days later by locking up Fernando Tatis Jr. to a record-setting 14-year contract, setting the stage for some serious 2021 theater between these two.

Oct. 7, 2020: Bellinger's defensive wizardry, Graterol/Machado feud

Game 2 of the 2020 NL Division Series -- arguably the most dramatic game played in the rivalry's history -- was defined by a single play. In the seventh inning, Fernando Tatis Jr. sent a deep drive to center field, where Cody Bellinger robbed him of a certain home run. Brusdar Graterol, on the mound at the time, flipped his hat. (Yes, his hat.) When Manny Machado barked at him, Graterol blew a kiss back in his direction. Tensions quickly simmered down. The Dodgers won the game, the series and, ultimately, the World Series.

Sept. 14, 2020: Grisham's trot

The Padres and Dodgers took part in a number of wild moments during the 2020 regular season. Both teams took issue with separate plays at the plate in August. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a mammoth homer and punctuated it with an equally emphatic bat flip. Chris Taylor won that very game with an incredible walk-off outfield assist. But that regular season's most contentious moment came during the final meeting in mid-September. Trent Grisham homered off Clayton Kershaw and enjoyed the heck out of it, pausing and shouting into the Padres' dugout before running the bases. As he rounded third base, Grisham and the Dodgers' dugout barked back and forth. Afterward, manager Dave Roberts took exception, calling Grisham out for what he perceived to be a lack of respect toward Kershaw.

June 30, 2017: A clash of managers

In 2017, an indelible benches-clearing incident was born out of a spat over sign-stealing. Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood got heated with Jose Pirela, who he believed was relaying signs to the hitter from second base. The two chirped at each other, and both benches were warned. Between innings, the umpiring crew called for a conference between managers, which proved to be eventful. Andy Green and Dave Roberts jawed with each other before Roberts shoved Green, prompting both benches to clear.

April 11, 2013: Quentin, Greinke collide

The most memorable benches-clearing incident between the two franchises took place in April 2013, shortly after the Dodgers had made a major offseason splash by signing Zack Greinke. In Greinke's first start in San Diego, he plunked Padres slugger Carlos Quentin, who took exception and charged the mound. The two collided in front of the rubber, and Greinke broke his collarbone upon the impact.

Sept. 27-29, 1996: Padres win division on final weekend

The biggest reason Padres-Dodgers hadn’t felt like much of a rivalry is a simple one: They generally haven't been good at the same time. The 1996 season serves as one of the biggest exceptions. The Padres and Dodgers staged a thrilling race for the NL West crown. Entering the season's final weekend, the two teams had more or less secured their playoff spots, but they played a three-game set at Dodger Stadium with the division on the line. The Padres needed a sweep, and they got one -- with Tony Gwynn's go-ahead, two-run single in Game 161 and Chris Gwynn's game-winning double in Game 162. Trevor Hoffman saved all three games.

Dec. 21, 1982: Garvey signs in San Diego

Steve Garvey was a World Series champ, an MVP, an eight-time All-Star and a four-time pennant winner in Los Angeles. When the Padres signed Garvey ahead of the 1983 season, it was a statement of intent: These weren't the same old Padres. Sure enough, San Diego took home its first NL pennant in 1984, with Garvey delivering the most famous homer in franchise history -- a walk-off blast in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series against the Cubs.

July 1982: Lasorda and Bevacqua trade barbs

Perhaps the most famous one-on-one feud in the rivalry's history saw Padres utility man Kurt Bevacqua take on legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. That, in retrospect, was probably a mistake. Bevacqua colorfully called out Lasorda for what he believed to be a purpose pitch by the Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer to the Padres' Joe Lefebvre. “The fat little Italian,” Bevacqua said, should be fined for his role. Lasorda responded with an expletive-laden rant that goes down as one of the greatest tirades by a manager in baseball history. Removing a few expletives, Lasorda said: "I have never told a pitcher to throw at anybody, nor will I ever. And if I ever did, I certainly wouldn’t make him throw at a .130 hitter like Lefebvre or Bevacqua, who couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat."