Alright, everyone still breathing? Good.
Despite an early scare, courtesy of an injury sustained by RHP Chris Paddack, the Padres drubbed the Giants 6-1 last night. Paddack sprained his ankle sometime in the first inning as he diced up the first 3 batters he faced in order, including striking out the Giants’ two best hitters, Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano. Paddack then retreated to the trainers room, getting his ankle taped up by the team’s training staff. He had plenty of time to do so, because the Padres broke out the heavy lumber early (more on that in a sec). Paddack was then pulled after the 2nd inning, though, as he simply could not drive through his pitches with the same authority, losing several MPH off his fastball. Out of an abundance of caution, the team then went to the bullpen, and the ‘pen was up to the task. 6 different pitchers combined to post 7 scoreless innings, highlighted by 1.2 innings from LHP Adrian Morejon, and 1 inning from RHP Emilio Pagan, who just returned from the IL.
But enough teasing, here’s the good stuff: 1B Mitch Moreland got the scoring going with a 2-run double to center field, scoring Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trent Grisham who both reached on back to back singles to open the game.
C Austin Nola then brought Moreland home off his own double to left-center. The team continued to pile on in the 3rd, as 3B Manny Machado hit his 13th homer of the year.
More importantly, OF Jorge Ona fulfilled the prophecy of own el-mariachi-mike by absolutely BLASTING his first MLB hit for a home run, vaporizing a hanging curveball and sending it 414 ft. into the 2nd deck in left field. Take a look at it here:
Fernando Tatis Jr. then tacked on one more with a sac fly in the 7th, and that was all she wrote.
All in all, not a bad way to start a series! Let’s get into news and notes.
- While a sprained ankle is likely one of the best scenarios for having to pull Chris Paddack from a game early, the injury does leave some questions as to where Paddack fits come playoff time. Said manager Jayce Tingler, “...I thought the way he threw the ball in the first, I thought he was onto something special tonight. We’re hoping for the best and hoping he can make that next start. But just watching his first inning and how crisp he was with his fastball and the changeup … we know it’s there. From that part, we don’t really have much concern. Our concern now is with the ankle.” Even if Paddack recovers quickly (he’s currently listed as day-to-day), he might only have one more start before San Diego begins aligning its postseason rotation. After their series against the Dodgers next week, the Padres have 3 off-days in the last 11 days of the regular season. In all likelihood, next Friday in Seattle is when they’ll start adjusting the order of their rotation to account for the postseason.
- As noted above, OF Jorge Ona blasted his first MLB hit into left field for a solo home run. But more interestingly, Ona became the 2nd Padre in the past 6 days to record his first big league hit via home run, as C Luis Campusano went deep Friday against Oakland. Before Campusano, no Padre had homered for his first big league hit since Patrick Kivlehan in 2016 (who I have absolutely no memory of). Ona also became the 16th Padres player in Padres franchise history to have a home run be his first major league hit.
- Lest you think I was forgetting about him, Machado also flashed some sweet leather last night, furthering his own case for the NL MVP award:
- The bullpen’s performance last night further reinforced that what was once maligned has turned into a veritable strength. “This bullpen is special, and it’s had a chance to be special for a long time,” righty reliever Emilio Pagán said. “It’s had a chance to be special for a long time. It’s starting to show.” Entering last night’s action, San Diego relievers have a combined 2.98 ERA, which ranks third in the Majors, and a 2.93 FIP, which ranks first. while the ‘pen has been led by LHP Drew Pomeranz and recently acquired RHP Trevor Rosenthal, let’s not forget the other standouts: Sidearmer Tim Hill hasn’t allowed a run in 10 appearances, Pierce Johnson hasn’t allowed a run in 9 appearances, and Pagan, who started slowly, has a 1.62 ERA in 6 outings since that 17 AUG turnaround began.
- Because many in Jake Cronenworth’s hometown of St. Clair, MI, were denied seeing the 26-year-old rookie play in person when the COVID-19 pandemic wiped the Padres’ trip to Detroit off the schedule, about 2 dozen have made the trip to Petco Park, or at least their cutouts did. Among those featured in the newly established St. Clair section of Petco Park are Jake’s father, Charles, his brother Charlie, friend and Tigers bullpen coach Jeremy Carroll, and high school baseball coach Denny White. Check it out:
Looks like Jake Cronenworth’s family and friends from his hometown in St. Clair, Mich., are now in a section at Petco Park to “be there” for his impressive rookie campaign. Pretty cool. #Padres (credit to Cro for the photos) pic.twitter.com/6v9b5mLISC— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) September 10, 2020
- In the “so crazy it has to be true” category, let this one sink in: the Padres are closer to 1st place in the NL West than 3rd place, currently trailing the most-hated and reviled L.A. Dodgers by 3.5 games, while ahead of the Giants by 5.5. In fact, it’s the closest to 1st place the team’s been with 14 games remaining in a season since 2010, when they were in first place by a half-game at this point. Maybe it’s because of all the new guys: 6 players on the active roster last night were not in the organization two weeks ago. Moreover, just 5 players on the current active roster were on the Padres roster at any point in 2018 (Wil Myers, relievers Matt Strahm, Craig Stammen and Javy Guerra (who actually was a SS at the time, who had all of 19 plate appearances that year) and RHP Dinelson Lamet (who spent that season on the injured list after needing TJ surgery in spring training that year). Even adding in 1B Eric Hosmer, currently on the injured list with a broken finger, that only raises the Padres to 6 holdovers from 2018, good for the 3rd fewest in MLB (only the Mariners and D-backs have fewer, with 2 and 3, respectively).
- Another big reason for the difference this year from years past is the team’s emphasis that fundamentals, details, and consistency matter. Manager Jayce Tingler singled out this play the other day by rookie Jake Cronenworth as a prime example:
For example, here is a play Jayce Tingler highlighted last night. If Cronenworth isn't backing up, that ball goes into the right field corner and Blackmon is on 2nd or 3rd as the tying run with no outs and the heart of the Rockies order coming up. pic.twitter.com/6RgllkjH7M— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) September 10, 2020
This is the kind of thing the coaching staff has been ALL about since winter, which meant the players had to buy in, because they had no choice. Personally, I love it.
That’s it for today. The Giants will throw RHP Johnny Cueto (2-0, 4.56 ERA) at the Padres’ RHP Garrett Richards (2-2, 4.50 ERA) today. Cueto has allowed 2 or fewer runs in 6 of his 9 starts. Richards struck out a season-high 9 batters while tying a season-high with 7 innings in a victory over the weekend in Oakland.