The story of the night was twofold: Padre pitching, and the Padres playing “spoiler” yet again, looking more like a playoff team than the playoff-chasing Colorado Rockies, beating them 5-0.
Jhoulys Chacin continued his torrid home pitching, throwing 5 and 1/3 innings of no-hit ball before yielding a soft single to center to DJ LeMahieu in the sixth, which Manuel Margot made a sterling attempt to get, but came up just short. Other than that, Chacin gave up three walks but nothing else, and ended up spinning six innings of shutout ball. He has the best home park ERA of 1.91 in the National League as he’s been nothing short of superlative at Petco this year, raising his record to 13-10 overall. Not bad for a last second free agent acquisition.
The bullpen took over in the seventh with the game still on the line at 2-0. Craig Stammen, who’s been so good for the home team since April ended, did run into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles, but his buddy, Buddy Baumann, came on to retire MVP-candidate Charlie Blackmon to get out of the mini-jam. Score one for the lefty-lefty matchup and for the Padres’ reconfigured bullpen.
Kirby Yates, yet another waiver wire-pickup-turned-gold, came on in the eighth, and struck out LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez before getting Nolan Arenado on a harmless fly ball to center. You’d think the Angels, in the AL Wild Card race up to a couple of days ago and with bullpen issues of their own, could use a player like Yates, yet they cut him for nothing in May, fortunately to the Padres’ benefit.
The Pads pushed their first run of the night across in the fifth on a two-out single by Yangervis Solarte, scoring Wil Myers from second base. Myers was only on second due to a wild pitch uncorked just previous. They added on a run in the sixth on a Christian Villanueva nubber in front of the mound.
They broke it open in the bottom of the eighth. Cory Spangenberg hit an opposite-field double and Austin Hedges singled off the normally reliable Arenado’s glove (admittedly a very difficult play). Next, Travis Jankowskit was hit by a pitch. Then Ian Desmond showed why he shouldn’t be playing first base, turning a routine play into a two-run throwing error. Margot followed with a sacrifice fly and suddenly it was 5-0. A close game had been turned into a mini-rout.
It’s always a great night when Padre fans get to see Brad Hand pitch, and even though at this point it was a non-save situation, he came on in the ninth. He struck out two sandwiched around two singles, and got Mark Reynolds to hit into a fielder’s choice for the final out. The Saturday night crowd of 33,899 got to see their Friars knock out a playoff contender yet again.
Playing nothing but playoff-chasing teams in September, the Padres are holding their own, going 11 and 11. The Rockies are in the thick of a race for the final N.L. Wild Card spot, with the Brewers and Cardinals only a game and a game and a half back, respectively, and the Padres are giving them everything they can handle. Padre pitching was excellent up and down the line tonight, and the hitters did their part with 12 hits and 15 base runners, which ultimately produced five runs.
It was another excellent night for the Friars on a homestand where they’re four and two, with tomorrow the final home date of the year. We know this year they aren’t a championship squad, but they are a team we can be proud of, and tonight they proved it once more, once again spoiling the Rockies’ chances to pull away from the teams on their heels. It was a good night in San Diego sports, with the Aztecs winning in football as well while the Padre game was going on. The future continues to be bright, but the present isn’t so bad either.