It's been nearly two hours since this game ended, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. In a way, it's a microcosm of Padres baseball at its best: Great pitching, spectacular defense, timely hitting, and a dash of unbridled joy. So instead of the usual, by the numbers recap, let's take a closer look at why this game was just so gosh-darn great.
Odrisamer Despaigne was in top form tonight. The man who came out of nowhere tossed seven shutout innings, allowing 5 hits (4 of them singles) and 2 walks while striking out 8. The only time he was even close to being in danger was in the fourth inning. Justin Morneau hit a leadoff single. A sacrifice bunt by Nolan Arenado put him in scoring position and brought up royal pain in the butt Corey Dickerson. Dickerson hit a bloop single, but got hung up between first and second. Morneau thought he could sneak home while Dickerson was in the rundown, but you need to wear the One Ring to pull of that kind of nonsense. After turning my scorebook into a mess, Morneau was out and Dickerson was at third. Wilin Rosario wasted no time in making the third out and ending the threat.
Yonder Alonso was left the game in the fourth inning with forearm pain. This led to a chain of defensive switches that ended with Chris Nelson at third. Four innings later, the former Rockie (wow Rockies your singular form is awful) got a chance to shine. When Charlie Blackmon hit a high pop fly toward the stands on the third base side, Nelson raced to grab it, rolling into the (very expensive and cushy) seats to make the out. No, really, you need to watch the video. I'll wait. On a Tuesday night, a crowd of over 27,000 turned out to give a playoff-quality standing ovation to a player who has spent his career in and out of the minors of four different clubs. But wait, there's more! On the very next play, Tommy Medica went into the stands! It's a production of Annie Get Your Gun out here, folks.
The Padres got on the board in the second when Yonder Alonso drew a walk and Yasmani Grandal and Abraham Almonte both singled to load the bases with one out. Alexi Amarista grounded into a force out, but it was enough to get the run in. Then in the third, Rymer Liriano picked up his first major league hit by legging out an infield single. Another single by Grandal sent the rookie to third, and a sacrifice fly from Almonte gave Rymer his first major league run. That was enough for a win, but the Padres dealt a crushing blow in the eighth. Will Venable led off with an infield single to shortstop Josh Rutledge. Well, that's charitable. Mr. Laura McKeeman deserved an error on the play, but hometown scorers will do their thing. Anyway, a wild pitch sent Will to second, and a ground out from Yangervis Solarte put him on third. Medica drew a walk and then stole second, but Jedd Gyorko struck out looking, bringing Nelson to the plate with two out. Riding high on his defensive showcase from the top half of the inning, Nelson hit a two-run single into left field.
Seriously, go watch that video of Nelson's catch again. If it doesn't make you smile, consult a doctor. you may be dead inside.
Ian Kennedy goes for the sweep at 3:40 PM tomorrow. Head down to the ballpark for Bobby Cressey's last regularly scheduled game of the season!
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