The San Diego Padres bats stayed awfully quiet, Yu Darvish wasn’t quite his usual dominant self, and Juan Soto’s three-run home run went foul by three feet. That’s a bad recipe for October baseball, but it also proved to be a bad recipe for their final game of September.
For the third time in four games, the Padres opened the scoring with a ground ball up the middle. This time, it was Josh Bell who beat the shift with a grounder to the left side. Brandon Drury, who hit a one-out double to put himself aboard, scampered home to score. Bell’s RBI gave the Padres a lead after two innings.
It was clear from the outset that Yu Darvish did not have his best stuff, with Elvis Andrus hitting a double to begin the game. Darvish did manage to strand Andrus at third, but he quickly was in trouble again. Gavin Sheets and Yoan Moncada hit back-to-back singles to start the second, and a productive out quickly put two runners in scoring position. Darvish battled back, inducing a pair of 83 mile per hour grounders to keep the Chicago White Sox off the board. He appeared to be getting stronger, as he recorded a 1-2-3 third inning, but that proved to be untrue.
Chicago cracked Darvish’s puzzle in the fourth, as Eloy Jimenez led off the frame with a game-tying home run, smashing a 348-foot blast just inside the left field line. Sheets piled on with a double before Moncada’s second single of the night put the White Sox ahead. In the sixth inning, the third baseman doubled for his third base hit in as many trips to the plate. Andrew Vaughn singled up the middle, and Chicago had found some insurance. Darvish valiantly battled through six innings, throwing 104 pitches, allowing three runs on eight hits while striking out six. He’d start a Game 162 if needed, but San Diego will likely look for him to start Game 1 of a Wild Card Series if they’ve clinched by then. Darvish did manage to pick up his 23rd consecutive quality start in the effort.
The Padres had so many chances to level the score but just could not find a way. Bell and Ha-Seong Kim struck out with runners on the first and second in the fourth. Then, a wonderful relay throw from the White Sox nailed Jurickson Profar at the plate while the Curaçaoan attempted to score on Juan Soto’s double in the fifth. Soto nearly blasted a go-ahead three-run home run off Kendall Graveman in the seventh. His opposite-field fly ball curled just left of the Western Metal Supply Company Building. Two pitches later, Soto stared at a backdoor slider that proved to be strike three.
Bob Melvin turned to Luis Garcia and Robert Suarez to keep the deficit at two, and they were up to the task. Each sat down all three batters they faced, with the Padres fighting to scrape a pair of runs off a Chicago bullpen that had a 4.09 ERA, the 20th best in baseball. Jake Cronenworth’s one-out walk meant that the tying run came to the plate for the fourth time in five innings. Drury and Bell each struck out, sending the game to the ninth inning with San Diego needing two runs.
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Nick Martinez did his job, needing eight pitches to retire all three White Sox batters, but elite closer Liam Hendriks came into the game for Chicago. Hendriks lived up to his reputation, striking out a pair of Padres in a shutout ninth.
San Diego managed just one run off rookie Davis Martin and a struggling bullpen. They’ll take on AL Cy Young hopeful Dylan Cease tomorrow, and they’ll do it with just a two-game lead in the Wild Card Race over the Brewers. There are five to play.
Sam is a Senior in High School. He has been writing for three years, and started at EVT in June of 2021. He’s headed to Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications in the fall of 2023.