The San Diego Padres went into the All-Star break limping heavily after keeping up with the Dodgers for most of the first part of the season. In their final 29 games before starting their much-needed break on Monday, the Padres went an ugly 11-19, which saw them drop to 10.5 games back of the first-place Dodgers.
The biggest area of concern was the offense, which has been a concern all season with Fernando Tatis Jr. sidelined. Their defense, baserunning, and bullpen struggles in the final month of the first half are what really put a dark cloud over the team after relying on those facets to win games early on.
Still, at a respectable 52-42 record and a playoff spot fully within reach, the Padres went into the unofficial second half of the season with a reason for optimism.
Going across the country to face the New York Mets, who have the National League’s second-best record, is a big test for the Padres to start the latter part of the season, and they did exactly what they needed to do to begin on a positive note, beating the Mets 4-1.
Facing Mets’ ace Max Scherzer added another test for the Padres and their struggling offense. The Padres offense answered the call, thanks in part to home runs by Eric Hosmer and Trent Grisham – two guys that will need to contribute like they did tonight if the Padres are going to have a strong finish to the season.
The star of the night, however, was Padres’ starter Yu Darvish who out-pitched Scherzer with a dazzling start. Darvish pitched seven strong innings while striking out nine and allowing only one run.
“What’s he got a 3.20 ERA? Seven innings every time out, it feels like. It doesn’t surprise us. We seem to get spoiled by him every time out,” said Padres’ manager Bob Melvin when asked about how good Darvish was Friday night.
Darvish stayed out of trouble all night until the seventh inning, when he allowed his only run but escaped major trouble.
Hosmer put the Padres on the board in the fourth inning with an opposite-field two-run home run off of Scherzer, who he has hit well in the past.
Let’s go, Hoz! 🚀 pic.twitter.com/NS4nw8ZC1I
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 23, 2022
Grisham followed that up with a solo home run in the seventh, and eventually, the Padres went up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
While the shutout was lost in the seventh, the bullpen was able to hold on, and Taylor Rogers closed out the game for the Padres.
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“We put together quite a few months in a row where we played this type of baseball, then the last one wasn’t as good for us, so hopefully this is a trend for us,” Melvin said about his team’s all-around performance.
San Diego will look to build off of this win on Saturday with Blake Snell on the mound, who is also looking to find more consistency in the second half.
Kevin is a San Diego Native covering the San Diego Padres and their affiliates