Bullpen Falters Again as Braves Complete Sweep

Credit: Padres Instagram

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Credit: Padres Instagram

In what was mostly a low scoring pitcher’s duel throughout the day, the San Diego Padres ultimately lost for the third straight game to the Atlanta Braves by a score of 4-1. After seven scoreless innings on both sides of the ball, the Padres finally blinked.

The only offense in the game for the Braves came in the eighth inning against Trey Wingenter. After striking out the first batter he faced, Wingenter gave up back-to-back base hits to Matt Joyce and Ronald Acuña Jr. before striking out Dansby Swanson.

Freddie Freeman followed with a clutch two-out, three-run home run that put Atlanta ahead by the same score. A Josh Donaldson walk and stolen base followed by a Nick Markakis RBI single made the game 4-0 and spelled the end of the day for Wingenter. He was relieved by rookie fireballer Andres Muñoz, who struck out Ozzie Albies to end the threat.

With being swept, the Padres have now lost seven straight games at home dating back to before the All-Star Break and have fallen to three games under .500, essentially right back to where they were before the hard-fought Dodgers series win.

A bright spot for the Padres was the start they were able to get from Cal Quantrill. Throwing in a game for the first time in 11 days, Quantrill went six shutout innings allowing only three hits and a walk along with a strikeout.

In a somewhat hectic up and down season which has seen Quantrill shuttle back and forth between AAA and the Majors, as well as the rotation and the bullpen, it was an encouraging start that he can try to build off of in the coming days.

Credit: Padres Instagram

On the other side of things, Mike Soroka matched Quantrill pitch for pitch throughout the game. Soroka collected the win and went an impressive seven shutout innings, scattering six hits and one walk while striking out nine. A season which can definitely be considered a “breakout” for Soroka, Sunday’s start was more of the same. He came into the action today with a 9-1 record and 2.42 ERA in just over 80 innings pitched, including recently being named to his first All-Star team.

The main concern for the Padres today was the high amount of runners left on base (18 in all today). In what looked like a microcosm of the entire season, the Padres were able to get runners on base throughout the game but couldn’t come through with the big hit when it was needed or once it was already too late.

The only San Diego run came on a bases-loaded, two-out single from Josh Naylor in the bottom of the eighth that made the deficit 4-1. Hunter Renfroe followed as a pinch hitter and struck out to end the threat.

Fernando Tatis Jr. had another “ho hum” four-hit day and Naylor came through with three of his own, but that was mostly it for the Padres offense. They constantly had traffic on the basepaths but were unable to cash in, and didn’t register an extra-base hit the entire game.

Manny Machado also just barely missed his 24th home run of the season in the fifth inning, only to be robbed in front of the Padres bullpen by Acuña Jr.

Next up, the Padres will head back east to Miami for the start of a road trip with the Marlins. The probable starters have not yet been announced, but it’s been widely rumored that Eric Lauer and Chris Paddack will each start a game in the series, with the third starter yet to be determined.

Even after being swept, the Padres still have a chance (albeit a smaller one) at making some noise in the Wild Card chase. Over their next 14 games, they will only play one opponent with a record above .500 (Chicago Cubs).

Still, that may not matter as the bullpen has been wildly ineffective lately even with the additions of Logan Allen, Matt Strahm, and Muñoz. If the Padres want any shot at contending the rest of the year there will have to be noticeable improvement with the relief corps, which has been the same story for pretty much the entire season.

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