The Padres returned home for a three-game series against the New York Mets. The Mets started the season on a surprisingly torrid pace, winning eleven of their first twelve games. They came down from that cloud, losing seven of their next eleven, giving Padres fans a glimmer of hope that the team coming into Petco might present an opportunity to get some momentum going. Whatever momentum was created over the weekend series didn’t seem to be rolling in the Padres’ direction.
Friday, April 27: Mets 5 - Padres 1
Clayton Richard faced off against Jacob deGrom in a game that had the resemblance of a pitcher’s duel in the early innings. The Mets starter came into the game with two double-digit strikeout games in his rear view mirror, and facing a K-happy team like the Padres, this looked like a custom-made matchup for the fireballer.
The Mets got to Richard early as leadoff hitter Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a double and came around to score later in the inning. The first of two double plays got Richard off the hook with only a single run scored, and he held the Mets scoreless for the next five innings. Richard got himself into a jam in the seventh with two bases occupied, and escape artist Craig Stammen was summoned to unjam the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera belted the first pitch he saw into the rightfield seats, putting the Mets ahead 4-0. Kazuhisa Makita came in for the 8th and put speedster Juan Lagares get on base as a hit batsman. Former Padre Jose Lobaton made him pay for the mistake, knocking Lagares in with a double. The inning was brought to an end as deGrom batted for himself and struck out. Jordan Lyles handled the ninth in a mop-up role, as the game was clearly out of hand.
On the other side of the ball, deGrom performed as advertised, racking up 8 K’s through 7-1/3 innings, and while the Padres managed five hits and three walks, they never threatened to score. Jerry Blevins and AJ Ramos finished up the eighth inning, and former ace-in-the-making Matt Harvey came in to make a rare relief appearance.
The beleaguered Harvey has been relegated to the bullpen after extended missed time due to injury followed by struggles to approach his former performance. He’s picked fights with the media, and it’s clear that his ego is struggled to come to grips with the fact that he’s no longer an ace. Moments like what Franchy Cordero did in the game’s final inning should serve as a reminder that he’s not who he thinks he is.
Cordero’s bomb was the only run that the Padres would muster on this day. Clayton Richard did his part in keeping the Padres in the game for the most part, but at this point he can’t be reliably expected to turn in a Quality Start level of performance. Knowing that deGrom came into the game on such a roll, the final result isn’t much of a surprise.
Saturday, April 28th: Mets 2 - Padres 12
If Friday’s game was an expected letdown, Saturday’s game was a breath of fresh air with the adrenaline of a pleasant surprise. 35-year-old Jason Vargas made his first start of the season against Padres rookie Joey Lucchesi. The Padres made Vargas look like the rookie, while Lucchesi managed the game like a veteran.
The Padres opened the scoring early with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Christian Villanueva drove in Eric Hosmer with a VillaBOMB, his eighth of the season. Manuel Margot tripled in Freddy Galvis and Jose Pirela. It was a beautiful case of small ball getting runners on base, then the big hit driving them in. The inning was bookended by strikeouts from Wil Myers and Austin Hedges, but the guys in the middle worked the count and put the ball in play. Perhaps they had another team meeting before the game, eh Kevin Acee?
The good times kept on rolling, especially for Austin Hedges. He led all Padres hitters with three hits (two singles and a double) and a career-high five RBI’s. Not to be outdone, Franchy Cordero did this off Mets starter Jason Vargas:
My goodness. That kid is strong.
The only flaw on the Padres’ line came in the top of the sixth, as Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer off Padres starter Joey Lucchesi. After the game, Lucchesi noted that it was tough to stay warm and focused through the long innings while the Padres ran rampant on the basepaths. No pitcher will complain about their offense supporting them, but it was clear that Lucchesi wasn’t nearly as sharp after the long breaks. Adam Cimber and Robbie Erlin handled the mop-up roles, working 3-1/3 scoreless innings to put a bow on a fun ballgame for Padres fans.
One sad note shook out of Saturday’s game. Wil Myers left the game in the fifth inning, which at the time came as no surprise as the game was well out of hand by then, but after the game we learned that he had apparently injured his oblique. Sunday morning the Padres put him back on the DL and recalled Travis Jankowski from El Paso. Jankowski has been red-hot in El Paso, hitting .563/.641/.719 over his last eight games.
Sunday, April 29th: Mets 14 - Padres 2
Can we just pretend that this game never happened? Here are the main points:
- Bryan Mitchell was Bryan Mitchell, giving up four earned runs in 4-2/3 innings.
- Jordan Lyles looked like his coach had turned into a pumpkin, reminding us of the guy we cringed at last year and wanted off the roster this spring. He gave up another four runs in his 1-2/3 innings.
- Phil Maton gave up his first earned run of the season, so we can’t be too mad at the kid.
- Kazuhisa Makita didn’t fool anyone, working a dumpster fire of an eighth inning, surrendering five runs, all earned.
- Yoenis Cespedes left the game after apparently injuring his thumb as he slid head-first into third base. Kids, learn how to do a proper hook- or pop-up slide. Baseball players make money with their hands, they need to protect them.
- Former Padre great and now apparent supervillain Adrian Gonzalez knocked in five runs on three hits including a homer off Lyles. We loved him while he was here; he was the chosen son, but since he left all he’s done is make the Padres wish they had never let him go each time he comes back to Petco. Don’t talk to me about Anthony Rizzo, either.
Now the Padres are getting on a plane to San Francisco and they’re licking their wounds from a series loss against the Mets. While the Mets are playing some good baseball so far this season, the Padres made them look like juggernauts save for a disastrous start from Jason Vargas. On the bright side, the Padres have roughed up the Giants to the tune of 20 runs scored for and only 13 against as they won three out of four earlier this month in Petco.