For Whom the Bell Toles.
It took over three months and 90 games, but Andrew Toles finally made his 2018 Dodger debut on Monday, and oh was it marvelous.
Toles knocked in a pair of runs and the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres, 8-2, on a beautiful Monday evening at Petco Park.
"Everyone was excited to get him here," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of Toles. "Him being here brought a lot of energy. He had a couple knocks tonight, but that big double to opposite way was really good."
For the better part of the season, Dodger fans across the country had been pining for Toles, using the hashtag #FreeToles on social media to let the front office know their desire to see the Decatur native on the field.
Toles was the final cut made by the Dodgers on the eve of Opening Day as he started in Triple-A Oklahoma City, relinquishing his spot on the roster to Joc Pederson and Kyle Farmer.
If patience is a virtue, than Toles is the most virtuous of all as he battled through an early hamstring injury, waiting for an strained oblique muscle on Yasiel Puig before finally getting the call back up to the Big Leagues.
Needless to say, it was a long time coming.
"It was worth the wait. I'm just happy to be here honestly," said Toles. "I'm not trying to harp on the wait and all that. I'm just happy to be here and going to do what I can do."
Toles finished the game, 2-for-3 with a two-run double and two runs scored.
Clayton Kershaw did the rest, reaching two milestones as he flashed glimpses of his former three-time Cy Young Award winning self.
Kershaw surpassed 2,000 career innings pitched, becoming the 13th Dodger in franchise history to eclipse that plateau, while joining a club with just ten other members as the only 11 active players to have pitched over 2,000 innings in the Major Leagues.
"I should have done it a lot sooner, but I just keep getting hurt," said Kershaw of the milestone. "It's cool, it is. It sounds like a lot of innings so hopefully I have a few more left."
Over half of those innings were likely caught by Kershaw's best friend, current Padres' catcher A.J. Ellis.
Ellis and Kershaw both started in the Dodgers organization and rose to the Big Leagues together in 2008. They became friends and eventually family, even after Ellis was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Carlos Ruiz in August of 2016.
Ellis would go on to play for former manager Don Mattingly in Miami in 2017, and joined the Padres in 2018, rooming with Kershaw in spring training.
Nonetheless, the two friends had never faced against each other in the Majors.
That was, until the bottom of the third inning on Monday night.
"That was miserable," Kershaw said of the matchup. "I've faced a lot of teammates and ex-teammates and friends in this game, but probably nobody with the history that I have with A.J. Hopefully that was the last time we'll have to do that."
Kershaw came back to the mound in a scoreless tie that inning, and didn't so much as look or tip his cap to his friend and former catcher.
After working a 2-2 count, Kershaw crippled Ellis with an inside slider that he softly grounded out to third base.
After that, the Dodgers broke the game open with a five-run fourth inning off San Diego starter Luis Perdomo, and they never looked back.
Cody Bellinger, Yasmani Grandal, and Toles all doubled in the inning as Los Angeles handed Kershaw a five-run lead to work with.
Former Padre, Matt Kemp, recorded his 58th RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh inning.
For Perdomo, the six runs allowed was an improvement after the Dominican right-hander surrendered nine runs in only three innings during a start against the Dodgers on April 18th.
Perdomo (1-3), took the loss regardless, allowing six runs on 10 hits with three walks and zero strikeouts in a season-high seven innings.
Perdomo's ERA against the Dodgers ballooned to 9.23 in his career, the second-highest of any pitcher versus the Dodgers since Glendon Rush had a 10.95 ERA against the Blue Crew in 1958.
In his best start of the season, Kershaw (3-4), allowed just two hits with one walk and five strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
Not only did Kershaw pick up his second straight win, but he now has a record-tying 13 consecutive wins against the Padres. According to STATS, LLC. That's tied for the longest active streak against any opponent with St. Louis Cardinals starter Michael Wacha, who has won 13 in a row against the Cincinnati Reds.
"I don't know, wish you didn't tell me that," joked Kershaw when told of the stat. "They have some guys that really swing the bat well, especially against left-handed pitching. I think each time is different and tonight just had a few more zeroes and kept the other guys in the dugout and scored a bunch more runs."
Overall, Kershaw is 18-6 with a 1.94 ERA against the Padres in 32 starts over the course of his career.
Justin Turner scored two runs with a bases loaded single in the top of the eighth inning and Wil Myers blasted a solo homer off Caleb Ferguson in the bottom of the ninth.
Myers has hit five home runs in his last three games, just the third Padre in franchise history to accomplish that feat.
Los Angeles improved to 21-11 at Petco Park since 2015, and have won seven of their last ten games against the Padres overall.
In the last eight years, the Dodgers have defeated the Padres, 92 times, which according to STATS. LLC, is the most wins by any MLB team against a single opponent over that span.
Rich Hill will take the mount on Tuesday night opposite another left-hander in Eric Lauer. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10PM PST.
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