Defense shines in 2-1 victory over the Brewers

(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)

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Last night the San Diego Padres finally cracked the win column against the Milwaukee Brewers. Tonight, two pitchers, who were once considered the future of the Padres’ rotation, dueled it out on the mound. Chris Paddack is the Padre who is enjoying a bounce-back season right now. Eric Lauer was about the steal which landed the Padres Trent Grisham and Zach Davies. Davies was then flipped in a trade to acquire the current Padres ace, Yu Darvish.

Both of them battled on the mound. Chris Paddack is in the middle of a bounce-back season. He is yet to reach his 2019 levels but is far from his 2020 self. The biggest improvement has been his fastball. In 2020 it was easily the area where he struggled the most. Batters had a batting average of .308 and slugging percentage of .658 off his fastball last season.

His fastball now averages 95 mph, a career-high. Despite throwing it harder, that velocity is not translating into the exit velocity off the bat, which has also dipped this season. The final note to highlight on his fastball is his 24% whiff rate which is the high for the season.

On the Brewers’ side of the mound, Eric Lauer has had a different experience this season. As a Brewer, he has hardly had the opportunity to pitch. In 2020 he pitched just 11 innings and had a 13.09 ERA. He lost his role as a starter and continued to struggle out of the pen. The former Padres opening day starter wasn’t even on the Brewers opening day roster.

Both pitchers worked six innings while only giving up one run. Paddack only allowed two hits while striking out two and not giving up a walk. His only run surrendered came from Lauer’s first career home run. Lauer allowed four hits while walking one and striking out six. A Fernando Tatis Jr.sacrifice fly that scored Tommy Pham.

After the game, Jayce Tingler praised Paddack’s efficiency in the game. Going as far as to say it was one of the most efficient outings by a starter.

Aside from those two runs, the bats were quiet for both teams. Ha-Seong Kim tripled in the 7th, but with two outs, he wouldn’t score. In the 2nd inning, a great Jake Cronenworth jumping catch stopped Omar Narvaez from scoring.

It was tied going the 9th inning. When Josh Hader struck out the core of the Padres lineup, Tatis, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers. The Brewers then threatened with Austin Adams on the mound. Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich singled and then walked to put the winning run in scoring position with no outs. Adams managed to work out of it and was saved by Jurickson Profar laying out for the final out of the inning.

In 10th Victor Caratini singled to score Wil Myers to give the Padres the lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Milwaukee once again threatened to tie and potentially win the game. They quickly had runners on the corners with no outs. Jake Cronenworth made yet another highlight defensive play. He laid out to snag a hard grounder; Keiston Hiura didn’t get a good read on the ball and was slow to run home. Cronenworth made the heads-up play to get him out at home. After that, Mark Melancon shut down the offense to record his MLB leading 17th save.

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The defense played a huge role in the game today. The pitching staff only had eight strikeouts, so a lot of the balls were in play. Cronenworth had two run-saving plays, Profar had one himself, and Pham had a great catch while almost running into the left-field wall.

“That was maybe the best defensive game we’ve played. Look up and down the board, the Caratini block in the 10th, maybe none bigger than the Profar diving catch. I thought was Pham was really good out there in left. Wil running down a ball, Paddack and Hos in the first executing the slow ground ball to first,” Tingler said of the defense in the game.

The Padres have a chance to win the series tomorrow when Ryan Weathers and Adrian Houser take the mound.

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