Sometimes baseball teams must just get on their horses and ride them to the finish line. Headed into the middle game of a 3-game set with the Pirates, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Padres, who were on a mini two-game losing streak and were facing the Pirates’ ace, Gerrit Cole, for the second time in less than a week. The big boys were going to have to step up or it might be another long night for the good guys.
Dinelson Lamet was on the mound for San Diego. Despite being only his 12th Major League start, Lamet has become one of the horses of the Padres’ staff. Tonight, Lamet didn’t disappoint. Through five innings he gave up a measly walk and a single, and no runs. The Pirates couldn’t catch up to his fastball and were simply waving at his devastating slider.
While getting the first out of the sixth on a comebacker, he caught the ball on the bone of his hand, which seemed to affect him. He got the second out on a harmless fly ball, but then walked the following two batters. Manager Andy Green came and gave him the hook and Phil Maton got the final out.
As far as horses go, an even bigger development was taking place on the offensive side of things. The first time up, Wil Myers got hit on the forearm, but stayed in the game. Next time up he was wearing a black wrap over his forearm, which he might not take off the rest of the year. On a 2-2 count, he checked his swing, which the first base ump signaled no swing on to run the count full. It was the type of check swing which erstwhile Padres color man, Mark Grant, always calls a strike. Given new life, Myers laced a double down the left field line, driving in Spangenberg to give San Diego an early 1-0 lead.
When he came up with a man on base in the top of the fifth, the score was still 1-0. He proceeded to launch a low laser missile over the center field fence to give the Padres a three-run lead. It was the best swing Wil has put on the ball in three weeks. Next time up he drew a walk, putting him on base four times on the day.
It took three Padres relievers to give up two runs and get out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 7th. This is when it became the Dusty Coleman Show.
Dusty is the opposite of a “horse”. Maybe better said, he’s an aging nag. Whatever, I don’t want to carry the metaphor too far. First, in the top of the 8th, he gave San Diego back its 3-run lead with a two-run home run (his third hit of the night). Not known for his power, it’s Dusty’s third home run in two weeks of limited action. In the bottom half, after a Josh Bell leadoff single, Josh Harrison ripped a ball up the middle which screamed, “Pirates are mounting a rally”. Coleman heard the call, however, and made a brilliant stop on the ball while ranging to his left, flipping it adroitly to Asuaje, who completed a stunning double play. A beautiful play in a pressure spot. Yes, you could hang a star on that one.
The last of the Padres’ horses to finish out the game was all-star reliever, Brad Hand, coming on to close in the 9th. The N.L. Reliever of the Month for the month of July was typically on his game and shut down the Buccos 1-2-3. Hand has been absolutely dominant, with more than 20 innings of consecutive shutout ball to his credit, and tonight proved more of the same.
Lamet set the stage with his fine pitching. Myers propelled the offense. Coleman stepped up when needed on both sides of the ball. Hand finished things off as we’ve become accustomed to. A great night for the Pads to nip a two-game losing streak in the bud.