ARLINGTON, Texas – The San Diego Padres have already had a grand time in the new Texas ballpark. They are back there after a lot of postseason relief with another chance to overtake the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers.
San Diego in mid-August became the first MLB team to hit grand slams in four consecutive games — all against the Rangers, two at new Globe Life Field before the series switched to the West Coast. That also started a seven-game winning streak.
“We just started clicking from that moment on,” said Fernando Tatis Jr., the budding 21-year-old superstar whose second homer in that series opener was the first slam — on a 3-0 pitch and already with a seven-run lead in the eighth inning.
“This is kind of where we really got hot," said right fielder Wil Myers, who hit a slam in the first inning of the second game in Texas, where the Padres had arrived on a five-game losing streak.
With AL playoff games at the home parks of the Padres and Dodgers about 1,400 miles away, San Diego and Los Angeles open their best-of-five National League Division Series in Arlington on Tuesday night.
More than the slams, that August winning streak pushed the Padres into second place in the NL West. That's where they stayed, with the Dodgers winning their eighth consecutive NL West title, including the last two head-to-head meetings three weeks ago when a sweep by the Padres would have put them in the division lead.
Trent Grisham had a tying homer off Clayton Kershaw in that series opener Sept. 14, posing briefly and then gesturing toward his teammates before an an exchange with the Dodgers dugout and then hopping onto the plate. The Padres had a five-run outburst an inning later in a 7-2 win that Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts referred to as a punch in the mouth that they responded to after that.
“We just had a talk among ourselves. And, you know, we were able to come back out and play the game that we always do,” Betts said Monday. “It was definitely a good thing. I’m glad it happened at the time."