Chase Field- Phoenix, Arizona
After taking three out of four games from San Francisco Giants, including the last two, the Padres looked to continue winning as they traveled to Phoenix for a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately, the Padres did everything but win in Phoenix.
The opener of the series on Labor Day seemed like a favorable matchup for the friars. Cal Quantrill(3.99 ERA) was slated to face Mike Leake(4.67 ERA). The “favorable matchup” ended up being not so favorable for the Padres. Despite the Padres getting three hits in the first two frames, no runners scored. Things quickly fell apart for the Padres, as they commonly do when you miss scoring opportunities.
D-backs first baseman Christian Walker reached to lead off the second inning on an infield single. Ty France nearly made an incredible diving play, but he bobbled the ball slightly, which allowed Walker to beat his throw. Abraham Almonte proceeded to single to right field and advanced to second when Josh Naylor overthrew his cutoff. Nick Ahmed followed the singles up with a single of his own by blooping a well located inside fastball into centerfield. Almonte moved up to third. While Alex Avila was batting, Cal Quantrill attempted to pickoff Nick Ahmed at first. Ahmed was caught leaning towards second and got into a rundown. Instead of taking the free out, shortstop Luis Urias opted to backpick Almonte at third. The throw was offline and allowed Ahmed to get to second. Pitcher Mike Leake drove in Almonte with one out on a ground out. Quantrill had the opportunity to escape the inning with only two runs. Consequently, four more runs followed on a wild pitch, a walk, a Rojas double, and a Marte home run.
Andy Green decided to let Quantrill hit in the fifth despite already allowing six runs thus far. Two runners reached in the bottom half of the inning, including Almonte reaching on another diving play by France in which he almost converted. With two outs, veteran catcher Alex Avila hit a two-out double that scored both runners. Green’s decision to leave his young starter in immediately backfired.
The “Baseball Gods” sided with the Padres in the top of the sixth. With two outs, Manny Machado hit a foul pop-up that would have seemingly ended the inning. Thankfully, Christian Walker dropped the pop-up and gave Machado a second chance. He took advantage of it and drew a walk. Machado’s walk was followed by an Eric Hosmer double and an RBI single by Josh Naylor. With a chance to get the Padres back in the game, Ty France crushed a home run to left field. Luis Urias followed that up by reaching on an infield single. However, he was inexcusably thrown out trying to reach second on an errant throw, ending the inning.
Javy Guerra relieved Quantrill to make his first-ever pitching appearance and season debut. His debut started with a strike out of Jarrod Dyson, but his outing quickly went downhill as he allowed three homers and four runs before being relieved by Nick Margevicius. Arizona would add their 13th and 14th runs in the 7th inning before the Padres adding three runs in the 8th. The Padres embarrassingly dropped the opener of the series 14-7.
Game two of three featured the MLB debut for Ronald Bolanos and rookie Merrill Kelly(4.91 ERA), who the Padres have already faced three times. As opposed to the 14-7 football score from Monday, Tuesday’s game played more like a Soccer match.
After the Padres went down in order in the first, the D-Backs wasted no time to score. Ketel Marte led off with a triple and was immediately driven in on a Rojas single. With one out and runners at the corners, Bolanos rolled a double play to France. France didn’t field it cleanly and was only able to get the lead runner. The Padres found themselves in a 2-0 hole early.
In the third, Garcia and Martini singled with two outs to bring Machado to the plate. He swung through a 2-2 fastball down the middle to end the inning, the first missed opportunity of the night for the Pads. The next couple of innings were uneventful, as the two teams were locked in a pitcher’s duel. Bolanos got through six innings in his debut, only allowing the two runs in the first. Kelly, who pitched seven scoreless outmatched him.
David Bednar relieved Bolanos and quickly got into some trouble by walking Carson Kelly and allowing a single to Marte. Matt Strahm worked his way out of the jam after he was brought in by a double switch with Myers. Wil Myers quickly made his presence felt by singling to start the 8th. Garcia followed with a single of his own. The Padres wasted another golden opportunity, as the next three batters were retired. Arizona had a chance to put the game away, but Craig Stammen stranded two inherited baserunners.
Diamondback closer Archie Bradley entered the game to close out the shut out. A struggling Hunter Renfroe reached for the third time on a leadoff walk. France and Naylor followed it up by striking out, and the Padres were down to their final out. Austin Hedges and Myers kept the game going with two singles and ending the shutout. With pinch-runner Travis Jankowski on third, Garcia also extended the game with a walk. Newly acquired Nick Martini had a chance to be the hero with the bases loaded. He was rung up on a high curveball that missed the plate. The friars stranded ten runners in this gut-wrenching loss.
As the Padres looked to avoid the sweep, they sent rookie Chris Paddack(3.69 ERA) to the mound to face Zac Gallen(2.79 ERA). Greg Garcia reached to start the game by walking and moved to third on a Josh Naylor groundout. This is as close as the Padres would get to scoring until the 9th inning, as Garcia was thrown out when tagging up. The Padres would remain hitless until the 7th inning. Machado broke up the no-hitter in 7th with a line drive over the shifted first baseman and into right field. He was hung out to dry when Hosmer and Renfroe both struck out.
The D-Backs first five batters of thinning reached base safely in the 7th inning. This included a Ketel Marte grand slam that blew the game open at 4-0. The Padres would once again make things interesting in the ninth.
With the pitcher’s spot due to leadoff, And Green sent out left-handed Travis Jankowski to hit. Diamondbacks manager responded by bringing in lefty pitcher T.J. Macfarland. Green burned Jankowski and brought in Wil Myers. Myers rewarded Green and crushed a home run to left field. Hunter Renfroe represented the tying run with two outs after Naylor and Machado reached base. Renfroe grounded out to end the game on the first pitch.
A lot went wrong in this series. Baserunning, pitching, fielding, and hitting were all subpar. The Padres gave Arizona four outs on the basepaths this series, which is something that a struggling team cannot afford to do. The pitching on Monday was awful, as the D-Backs scored 14 earned runs. Fortunately, the pitching rebounded and only allowed six more runs for the remainder of the series. The fielding might not have seemed bad because there were only two errors, but there were several misplays by the Padres. Ty France had the opportunity to make some nice plays but ultimately did not. Renfroe misplayed two balls in right field, and Austin Hedges allowed a passed ball and a couple of wild pitches. The hitting was atrocious in what is considered a “hitters park.” The team failed to score in the first five innings of all three games and didn’t score until the 9th in the final two games. Also, the Padres were retired 25 times by strikeouts, which is alarming looking forward. Another change at Hitting Coach seems inevitable.
With playoff hopes seemingly gone, it will be interesting to see the continued player development for the rest of September, what September call ups make a name for themselves, and any changes the organization makes following the end of the year.