Padres drop Game 4, fall to the brink of elimination in NLCS

Credit: MLB

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Credit: MLB

The San Diego Padres entered play on Saturday night with a familiar feeling. After falling to Philadelphia the day prior, a crushing 4-2 loss that felt winnable on San Diego’s end, the fourth game of this series felt like a must-win contest for Bob Melvin’s squad. Bailey Falter toed the rubber for Philadelphia, while the Padres opposed with Mike Clevinger.

It didn’t take long for San Diego’s all-or-nothing offense to rear its head.

Manny Machado obliterated a first-pitch fastball from Falter, launching it into the left-field bleachers for a solo shot. Amidst chants of “Manny Sucks,” the Friars’ superstar third baseman put his team up 1-0 early.

It didn’t stop there, however. Josh Bell roped a single down the right field line, and Jake Cronenworth spit on the pitch after pitch to draw a clutch two-out walk. That brought Brandon Drury and his .955 OPS against left-handed pitching to the plate. Like Machado, Drury pummeled a first-pitch fastball into right-center to plate a pair and chase Falter from the game.

Ha-Seong Kim welcomed reliever Connor Brogdon with a laser into the left-center gap, scoring Drury from second and capping off San Diego’s four-run first inning.

Credit: AP Photo

It didn’t take the Phillies long to answer, however, and decided to start Clevinger a bit more puzzling. Kyle Schwarber punched a two-strike single the opposite way, and Rhys Hoskins pummeled a hanging slider into a similar spot as Machado, cutting San Diego’s lead in half. After a walk to J.T Realmuto, Bryce Harper hammered a center-cut fastball to score him and chase Clevinger from the game. The Padres’ starter threw 15 pitches, faced four batters, and didn’t record an out.

In came Nick Martinez, and, in return, the Phillies’ offensive attack stalled. Nicholas Castellanos grounded out to Kim, and Martinez punched out both Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott to hold the lead. After a ridiculous first inning, the Friars clinged onto a 4-3 lead.

Martinez was key through three innings, essentially drawing the start and throwing more pitches than he has since he was once a member of San Diego’s rotation. He didn’t allow a baserunner and hurled three scoreless innings, holding the Phillies quiet after their explosive start.

Sean Manaea entered the fourth inning and was quickly greeted by the Phillies’ offense. Castellanos, who’s been quiet all playoffs but has always been known for his ability to mash left-handed pitching, belted a leadoff double into the left-center gap. After striking out Bohm, Stott flicked a heater to the opposite field, tying the game. After all of that and a promising start by the Friars, this game was tied at four apiece.

The fifth inning was an eventful one for the Padres. Jurickson Profar drew a one-out walk to start things off, and up came Juan Soto. Sitting on a slider from Brad Hand, Soto clobbered his seventh home run as a Friar deep into the right field bleachers, tilting this heavyweight bout back in the Padres’ favor.

Credit: MLB

No lead is safe with the everso dangerous Phillies’ lineup, however, and especially the top of their order. Manaea made quick work of Brandon Marsh but immediately put himself in a whole by walking Kyle Schwarber, giving the aforementioned Hoskins a baserunner to work with. And just like he did earlier in the game, Hoskins crushed a no-doubt home run to left field, tying the game. Manaea walked Realmuto and was left in to face Harper, which proved costly. As he’s done for his entire career, Harper ripped a double and scored his backstop, putting Philadelphia on top 7-6. A ground ball that bounced off the second base bag brought another run home, making it 8-6 through five.

The Phillies added to their lead in the sixth inning after Schwarber crushed a no-doubt home run to straightaways center field – his third of this series, all of which have traveled 400+ feet.

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San Diego threatened in the seventh after Soto and Machado each reached, but David Robertson killed the rally by striking out Bell to end the frame. As a result, Realmuto, who’s been relatively quiet this entire series, started the bottom of the seventh inning off with a solo shot to left and making it 10-6.

That was all, as the Padres dropped what certainly felt like a must-win contest in heartbreaking fashion. Philadelphia will look to clinch the pennant tomorrow with an 11:37 a.m. start.

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