Every series against the Dodgers matters for the San Diego Padres.
At the beginning of the season, it was a battle for control over the NL West. That faded into the Padres battling to maintain their NL Wildcard spot. Now, it is all about pride as the Padres are eliminated from playoff contention.
This series matters for the simple purpose of making life difficult for a division rival. The Dodgers are in a tight battle for the NL West pennant. That means more than a banner. It’s the comfort of knowing one game won’t decide your fate in playoffs. Just as important, getting ahead of the Giants would mean a home-field advantage for the Dodgers.
Jayce Tingler has to battle the idea of beating the Dodgers while looking toward the future. He benched Fernando Tatis Jr. on Wednesday in order to preserve his health. Chris Paddack was shut down for the season to get an early start toward healing his arm. Wil Myers started the day on the bench.
Ryan Weathers took the bump for the Padres. The 22-year old is closing out his first full season in the MLB, and it has been a rocky one. He started very strong, then MLB hitters adjusted to him. That is normal for every rookie, but then he got hit with the injury bug and had an undefined role.
In his final appearance of the season, he got hit hard. In the first inning, Weathers allowed two singles, a double, and an AJ Pollock home run. That put him in a quick 4-0 deficit. The Dodgers kept the pressure up when they plated another run in the second inning.
Despite Weathers’ rough start, the offense had his back. This game was about battling and making the Dodgers earn it. Victor Caratini homered in the second inning. Then in the third inning, a villain to Dodger fans, Manny Machado, pulled the Padres back into the game. Max Scherzer left a slider in the middle of the zone, and Machado launched it to right-center.
With the Padres still down 3-5, a bit of luck struck. Adam Frazier doubled to score Caratini. This tied the game and put runners on second and third with two outs. Jake Cronenworth hit a routine grounder to Corey Seager. Seager fumbled the ball allowing Wil Myers (he pinch hit for Weathers and replaced an injured Jurickson Profar) to score.
Still, the Padres weren’t done. They were showing the same level of fight they had in the 2020 season. In the sixth inning, Myers tripled, allowing Caratini to score for the third time in the game. In the seventh, Machado and Eric Hosmer walked and later scored on a Tommy Pham double. Trent Grisham followed that up with a single to score Pham. The Padres were rolling and now had a 9-6 lead going into the eighth inning.
This is when disaster struck for the Padres. Emilio Pagan took over pitching duties in the eighth. Pagan has not been the pitcher that the Padres hoped for when they acquired him in 2020. What changed? Batters started to barrel up pitches at an incredibly high rate. In fact, he has a 12.6 barrel percentage (A barrel is a ball hit with the ideal launch angle and exit velocity to get an extra-base hit) which places him in the bottom 2% of the MLB.
On Wednesday, those struggles continued with the eyes of the baseball community watching. Max Muncy and AJ Pollock started the eighth inning with back-to-back home runs. After retiring Chris Taylor, Pagan was eligible to be pulled from the game. With Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner still due up, this was the perfect time to pull him with a one-run lead. Jayce Tingler opted to keep him in the game. Bellinger and Turner made him pay dearly.
Bellinger hit a game-tying home run to right field. Turner hit a double to left field. Finally, after four extra-base hits allowed over five batters, Tingler pulled the plug on Pagan. That decision came too late. Nabil Crismatt came into the game and gave up a two-run home run to Corey Seager. The Padres entered the eighth inning with a three-run lead and left with a two-run deficit.
“We were a little bit limited with where guys are at right now,” Tingler said after the game—referring to the lack of arms that were available to pitch. “He has been an absolute warrior for us all year, both on the mound and one of the leaders down in the bullpen. I have a ton of confidence in him.”
In September, Pagan has thrown eight innings and given up seven home runs in that time. That level of mismanagement has not gone unnoticed. After a very disappointing season, Tingler is in the hot seat. This game certainly stokes the flames.