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Padres Round-up 9/09/20

Welcome back to SLAM DIEGO!

Houston Astros v San Diego Padres
A little love for Greg, since I didn’t want him feeling left out...
Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning, Padres fans! Our Friars clobbered the Rockies last night, scoring 14 runs. The win also saw the return of SLAM Diego, as Trent Grisham, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Manny Machado worked consecutive walks to open the game. C Austin Nola then got hit by a pitch, bringing in a run. That ended Colorado’s Chi Chi Gonzalez’s night early, and brought in Jose Mujica for his major league debut. Wil Myers rudely welcomed Mujica to the big leagues by recording the Pad’s first hit of the game on the second pitch he saw, smashing an outside fastball into the right field bleachers. Check it out here:

From there, the rout was on. Wil would hit another home run a few innings later, finishing the night with 5 RBIs, but he was not the only Padre bringing the lumber. In the second inning, Manny Machado hit a two-run double to resume the scoring, and Nola smashed a 3-run homer, putting the Padres up 10-3 before an out was recorded. Greg Garcia walked to lead off the third, and scored from first base when Raimel Tapia mishandled Machado’s single. As mentioned, Myers homered to left-center on the first pitch of the seventh (a monster 438-ft. shot), and Jason Castro and Jurickson Profar followed with back-to-back doubles to make it 13-5. Trent Grisham’s sacrifice scored Profar, who had moved to third on a groundout. This marked the 8th time this year the team’s scored 10 runs or more, and the seventh time they’ve done so in the past 21 games (for comparison, the team only scored double-digits nine times in all of 2019).

The scoring was even more impressive as the team found itself in an early hole. RHP Mike Clevinger, making his Petco Park debut, leaked a pitch to Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado, who smashed it for a 3-run homer. After that, Clevinger was lights out, retiring the next 11 batters in order, and recording three perfect innings. In his five innings of work, Clevinger recorded 8 Ks with only 1 BB, scattering 5 hits. Clevinger also displayed a fastball still riding between 95 and 97 mph in his final inning, a roller coaster curve and a slider that was much sharper than in his debut. The bullpen then locked it down the rest of the way, giving up only 2 hits in 4 innings of combined work while racking up 5 Ks.

A great win for the Good Guys! Let’s get into news and notes:

  • Wil Myers has been an integral part of the team’s resurgence this, though he’s largely flown under the radar. Despite a .297 batting average and .973 OPS, both career highs, Myers has gone mostly unnoticed, partly due to the success of teammates Tatis Jr. and Machado (who are NL MVP candidates this year), and partly because Myers is fine with the lack of attention. “When you have the leading two MVP candidates in the middle of the order, that really helps out a lot,” Myers said. “There’s a lot of attention on those two guys right there for good reason. Those two guys go out there every single day and do what they do. Me in the five, six hole, I just want to clean things up. … I’ve really enjoyed this role that I’ve been in this year to be able to be behind some great players, watch them go about their work, then be able to contribute.” Given that Myers’ struggles and tribulations as the one-time face of the franchise grew to define an entire era of Padres rebuilding, I’m sure he has no problem hanging in the background.
  • Another reason for Myers’ offensive surge: a reduced K-rate. Last year, Myers posted a 34.3% K-rate, which would’ve easily led MLB if he’d gotten 12 more plate appearances to qualify. This year, the Padres zeroed in on that strikeout rate — particularly Myers’ chases outside the zone, and so far, it’s been working. Myers entered play Tuesday chasing just 23% of the time and striking out at a 25.5% clip, both better than his career marks. While still not great numbers compared to the rest of MLB, that’s plenty good for Myers considering how hard he hits the ball. “He’s been stubborn and disciplined about maintaining that approach,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “Some days, some at-bats, it’ll come and go. But when it runs away from him, he’s been able to grasp it back.”
  • With last night’s win, the Padres magic number to clinch a playoff spot lowered to lucky number 13. With 16 games remaining on the “season,” the Padres are attempting to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. No pressure, boys!
  • Last night was the ninth time in 11 games the Padres bullpen has allowed one or fewer runs. That is something it did just 11 times in the season’s first 33 games. Not coincidentally, Padres starters have gone an average of almost 5.2 innings over those 11 games, nearly a full inning more than they averaged in the first 33 games. “That certainly has taken a workload off some of the bullpen guys,” Tingler said. “… Because of what some of the starting pitching has done I think maybe we’ve caught our second wind down there (in the bullpen), gotten some freshness. It certainly helps being able to add some arms as well.”
  • No major league team had ever hit seven grand slams in the first 44 games of a season until the Padres hit their seventh in their 44th game last night. They hit four all last season in 162 games. Not surprisingly, the Padres are 7-0 when they hit a grand slam.
  • 3B Manny Machado went 3-for-3 with a double last night, his 13th time with multiple hits in his past 20 games. In that stretch, he is batting .430 (2nd in MLB in that span) with a 1.240 OPS (3rd in MLB in that span).
  • Can’t discount what the new Padres backstops have contributed to the team as well. Jason Castro had two doubles last night and overall, has three hits in his 12 at-bats with the Padres. Austin Nola homered last night, his second to go with two doubles in his 22 at-bats. The seven extra-base hits by the two new catchers are the same number that Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejía and Luis Torrens had in 106 at-bats.
  • In roster news, the Padres released long-time farmhand RHP Travis Radke from their 60-man player pool. Radke will now look for a second organization after spending the first several years of his pro career with the Padres, who chose him in the 25th round of the 2014 draft. The 27-year-old posted a successful minor league tenure as a member of the Padres, with whom he recorded a 3.24 ERA in 183 1/3 innings, but never got a chance at the MLB level. He ended his Pads stint last year with 71 2/3 frames of 2.64 ERA pitching and 9.5 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 across High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels.
  • In case you don’t believe in magic, I present to you Fernando Tatis Jr.:

How he did that without snapping every tendon in his knees is beyond me.

That’s it for today. Tonight, the Padres’ most dependable starting pitcher is on the mound as they try to complete a sweep of the Rockies. RHP Zach Davies (6-2, 2.23 ERA) will take on the Rockies’ RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-1, 3.33 ERA). Senzatela last faced the Padres in San Diego on 29 August, where he blanked our Padres over seven scoreless innings and scattered seven hits. Here’s hoping the offense roughs him up some tonight.

First pitch is set for 1710 Pacific.