SAN DIEGO — Developments in the Midwest went the San Diego Padres’ way Thursday.
A playoff berth is creeping up on them.
But the plastic and champagne and goggles will remain in storage at least one more day, as the Padres could not beat the team they will eventually need to win a series against if their season is to be truly successful.
The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Padres 5-2 Thursday night at Petco Park, taking their ninth consecutive series between the teams and putting off any celebration in the home clubhouse until at least Saturday.
Before play began in San Diego, the Phillies lost in Chicago, dropping the Padres’ magic number to clinch the No. 5 seed in the National league playoffs to five. And as the Padres batted in the second inning, the Milwaukee Brewers’ loss at home to the Miami Marlins wrapped up, trimming the Padres’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot to three.
A victory Thursday would have meant the Padres could have secured a postseason berth if they beat the Chicago White Sox and the Brewers lost to the Marlins on Friday. Now the Padres still need a combination of wins and Brewers’ losses to add up to three.
The Phillies lead the Brewers by a half-game and have one more game to play than the Padres and Brewers. Any combination of Padres’ wins and Phillies’ losses adding up to five means the Padres earn the fifth of six NL playoff spots.
The Padres have six games remaining — three against the White Sox, who have been eliminated from playoff contention, and three against the San Francisco Giants, who have only the slimmest chance of making the postseason even if they win out.
With an eye on lining up Yu Darvish to pitch the first playoff game, the Padres decided to push their ace’s start back a day to Friday and go with a bullpen game Thursday against the Dodgers, who primarily used relievers to get through nine innings as well.
The Padres also started Brandon Dixon, a 30-year-old called up from Triple-A on Tuesday, as their designated hitter. Dixon last played in the major leagues in 2020, when he went 1-for-13 with the Chicago Cubs.