I have lived in San Diego for less than three weeks, and have attended seven of nine possible home games (I was in the emergency room during one of them, and fell asleep the next day right before I was about to head to the park). The previous six were all memorable, and last night's was no different. Those who stuck it out and watched the whole thing were treated to, among other things, four home team home runs, a pitcher pinch-running, and a position player pitching. All these were achieved by the losing side, while the winning team featured a timeless legend knock three base hits as he crept ever-so-close to a couple historical landmarks.
Seeing four home runs from the team you went to root for usually goes hand-in-hand with witnessing a win, but not so much when they're solo shots, and even less-so when the other squad drops 13 runs. Wil Myers was the first Friar to leave the yard; his first inning shot tied the game at ones, set a new personal season-high, and tied Matt Kemp for the club lead with 14. Just two innings later, Kemp took the outright lead back with his fifteenth, but by then the game was already out of hand thanks to the seven runs Miami scored off Colin Rea in the top of the third with help from Adam Rosales, whose seventh error of the season paved the way for two unearned runs. Rosales did his part to atone for his miscue, but his fifth-inning dinger was too little, too late, as was Melvin Upton's in the following frame.
When you're amidst a blowout, the top concern becomes hoping everyone makes it out in one piece. Unfortunately, the Padres got injury added to insult in the fifth inning when Travis Jankowski pinch-hit for reliever Brad Hand, then sprained his ankle on the first base bag as he beat out a single. Summoned to take his place on the basepaths was Rule 5 draftee, pitcher Luis Perdomo. The young right-hander didn't seem like that bad of a choice when he proceeded to steal third base. All the fans who flocked to the exits after that went home with a good story to tell, but the select few who stuck around for the ninth inning got some sweet icing on what had been a very bittersweet cake.
With San Diego trailing 13-4 after eight innings, manager Andy Green turned to backup catcher Christian Bethancourt to pitch for the second time this season. Bethancourt's first pitch to Chris Johnson was a lob that clocked in at 49 miles per hour. His second pitch was nearly twice that, a 94 miles-per-hour fastball for a strike. Bethancourt touched 94 several times with what appeared to be minimal effort. After inducing Johnson to fly weakly to center field, he notched his first strikeout when he caught reliever Brian Ellington looking. Following a walk to Justin Bour and a single by J.T. Realmuto, Bethancourt settled back down and got Derek Dietrich to hit a harmless fly ball to center for the third out.
One Marlins batter who Bethancourt did not face was Ichiro, who had already had himself quite a day at the plate. Starting in right field in place of Giancarlo Stanton, Ichiro reached base five times on a trio of singles and a pair of walks. His three base knocks brought his MLB career hit total to 2,977, leaving him just 23 shy of the vaunted 3,000 mark. More impressively, he now has 4,255 combined hits between MLB and his time in NPB, Japan's major league. That tally leaves him just one shy of Pete Rose's total of 4,256 major league hits. I'll be in attendance for the final two games of the series, and am looking forward to the opportunity to see one of my all-time favorite non-Padres make history. I mean, ideally I'd like to see Padres pitchers throw two no-hitters, but barring that I'll be rooting for Ichiro to single and get stranded every time up.
In addition to anticipating Ichiro's milestones, I'm also eager to see what strange thing baseball will throw at me next. In less than two weeks I've seen the Padres lose a game they were winning by a dozen runs, the longest home run in Petco Park history, a straight steal of home, a walkoff win, and much more, including last night's oddities. I know it's a cliche, but generally cliches only become that after time proves them true, and it certainly is true that every single baseball game you watch, you will see something you have never seen before.