Jake Cronenworth Delivers Dagger in Padres Electric Home Opener Win

Credit: USA Today Sports

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Credit_ USA Today Sports

After grabbing an electric first win of 2024 in the final game of the opening series in Korea with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Diego Padres returned home and waited seven days for more regular season action to face the division-rival San Francisco Giants.

Following his 4-for-8 Seoul Series, Jake Cronenworth played hero yet again and drove in two on his seventh-inning rocket double to solidify the San Diego Padres 6-4 home opener victory against the division-rival San Francisco Giants.

After he started the first game of the season in Korea and worked 3 ⅔ scoreless innings, manager Mike Shildt handed the ball to Yu Darvish, who entered the contest with a career 6.23 ERA in 11 starts against the Giants.

However, Darvish turned the narrative and twirled a gem, going five innings of one-earned-run baseball with seven strikeouts.

At the same time, the newly signed Giants manager Bob Melvin handed the ball to Logan Webb, who finished second in the 2023 National League Cy Young voting behind former Padre and now teammate Blake Snell.

The two aces dazzled from the first inning on. Darvish set the tone and retired the first six batters, and Webb retired the first nine Padres in order.

The Giants scored first in the third inning. Mike Yastrzemski led off the inning with a double, and former Diamondback Nick Ahmed snuck a grounder by Manny Machado at third on an elevated 0-2 fastball to score Yastrzemski.

Darvish ran into some more trouble in the fourth after Lamonte Wade Jr. and Matt Chapman reached on back-to-back base hits. However, the Padres hurler battled back and retired the next three Giants in order with two strikeouts.

After a frustrating first four innings against Webb in which only one reached base, the Padres took the lead in the fifth. Machado drew a walk to begin the inning and advanced to third on a riffled Ha-Seong Kim single, his first knock of the season.

Then, Jurickson Profar jumped on the first pitch and scorched a 102 MPH single up the middle to score Machado and even the score 1-1.

Credit: USA Today Sports

The Padres added another run to take their first lead of the afternoon when Tyler Wade scored Kim on a groundball to Wade Jr. at first, where he was called out of the baseline when evading the tag.

After five strong, Mike Shildt relieved Darvish after he issued a base on balls to begin the fifth. Out of the pen, Tom Cosgrove was electric and shut down San Francisco with his sweeper, the best of the afternoon breaking over 27 inches horizontally.

In the seventh inning, Shildt handed the ball to Jhony Brito, one of the newer arms acquired from the Juan Soto trade. With two giants in scoring position, Nick Ahmed bested the Padres once again and tied the score with a single.

Following his impressive 1 ⅓ innings in the Seoul Series, Shildt called on Yuki Matsui to make his Petco Park debut and relieve Brito. Matsui recorded one out before the Giants broke the tie with a Jung Hoo Lee sacrifice fly.

After a six-inning and two-earned run-quality start, Bob Melvin relieved Webb and went to right-handed pitcher Luke Jackson, who had a 2.97 ERA in 33 ⅓ innings in 2023 during his first year in San Francisco. Without the Giants’ ace on the hill, the Padres quickly evened the score 3-3.

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The Friars took the lead 4-3 when Xander Bogaerts collected his second hit of the day and dumped a single into left-center to score Wade.

With the momentum, Jake Cronenworth doubled the Padres’ lead and delivered the dagger with a rocket 110 MPH double to plate Merrill and Bogaerts.

Matsui continued to shine and worked a 1-2-3 eight-inning, and Robert Suarez closed the door for the save despite giving up a two-out solo home run to Michael Conforto.

The Padres’ home opener at Petco Park Thursday was a huge success in front of a sell-out crowd of 44,953. Beyond the score, the real narrative manifests in how the Padres were perceived going into this home opener and will be perceived this 2024 campaign: a fourth-place team.

The National League West is stacked this 2024. The Arizona Diamondbacks built off their World Series appearance in the offseason. The San Francisco Giants made former Padres manager Bob Melvin their own and signed a plethora of big names, including the 2023 National League Cy Young Blake Snell. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shohei Ohtani.

Conversely, the Padres shed payroll, traded star outfielder Juan Soto, and let Blake Snell and Josh Hader walk in free agency.

However, this San Diego Padres team is ready to succeed as the underdogs, and Thursday’s assertive win manifests this mission.

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