The San Diego Padres have had a solid start to the year so far, especially taking into account the absence of superstar Fernando Tatis Jr.
A great way to make a statement in MLB is to get off to a hot start in April and May. With a comparingly light schedule in May, San Diego currently has an excellent opportunity to make up some ground in the race for first in the NL West. Multiple series are coming up, including visits to Pittsburgh and Cleveland, before facing the Marlins and Cubs in a homestand. This is a great time to string some wins together, and the swingin’ Friars came out with a bang to start the road trip.
Joe Musgrove gave up an early run, but Ha-Seong Kim answered with a heat-seeking missile rocketed deep to left-center. Kim slugged his second dinger of the year, which is a number that will continue to increase as long as Kim gets the playing time he deserves. Java Joe pitched a solid six innings against the Reds, and although he gave up two earned runs, he looked comfortable out there. Every start for him this year is an opportunity to advertise himself for a potential contract extension. The San Diego native is a fan favorite, so it will be interesting to see if he gets rewarded with a handsome payday.
The Padres scored eight runs in the fourth inning, essentially ending the night for the Reds. Veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer was able to hit a three-run moonshot to start his home run tally this season. The blast proved vital as Cincinnati clawed their way back from their eight-run meltdown in the fourth to make it a three-run deficit. That wasn’t enough, however, as Robert Suarez found his groove and finalized the Padres to a well-deserved victory.
Timing was the key for San Diego, as they were able to get hot at the right time.
A common theme of recent Padres teams has been the inability to hit with runners in scoring position. They have previously shown plate discipline, but a leadoff single and a walk isn’t going to mean anything if you can’t get the runner home. Cronenworth and Machado started the fourth inning off well for the Padres, and Hosmer cleared the bases to make it a 5-1 game. But if the offense had slowed down there and had then failed to score anything else, they might have lost this game.
Instead, after the home run and with the help of hitting wiz Michael Brdar, they strung together even more offense in the same inning that eventually made the Reds go to the bullpen. Resiliency and relentlessness are two qualities the Padres showed on Tuesday. Both could become identifying characteristics of a Padres baseball team that seems destined for the playoffs.