I picked a good day to check the Padres’ 1998 schedule to see how they did 20 years ago in that memorable season. Not only did San Diego win to go to 8-2, they did so in storybook fashion. Down two runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Steve Finley did what every kid imagines they’re doing when they stand in their back yard tossing a wiffle ball in the air and then swinging that yellow plastic bat as hard as they can.
Of course, a grand slam is the work of more than just one person, and Greg Vaughn, Mark Sweeney, James Mouton, and Quilvio Veras all did their part. Also doing his part, although in a role he never would have asked for, was Diamondbacks righthander Felix Rodriguez. He was called on to close out the game in relief of Andy Benes; the former Padres starter had allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in his eight innings of duty.
Vaughn got things started by singling up the middle, then he took second when Carlos Hernandez grounded out, Matt Williams to Travis Lee. He moved to third on a wild pitch with pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney at the plate, after Chris Gomez had been caught looking for the second out. Sweeney worked a walk to put the tying run on, then gave way to pinch-runner James Mouton, who promptly stole second. Rodriguez responded by working very carefully to Quilvio Veras, eventually putting him on with the classic “unintentional intentional” walk, bringing Steve Finley to the plate.