The battle for the NL West lead took place on Friday.
The San Diego Padres seem to be stuck in these constant battles. First, it was a pair of intense series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are now slumping and in third place. This time around, it is the San Francisco Giants.
After falling just shy of the extended playoffs last season, the Giants surprisingly didn’t sell off. They chose to keep their ace Kevin Gausman, bet that the return of Buster Posey would be a massive help, and even added Anthony DeSclafani. To their credit, this plan has worked beautifully. DeSclafani and Gausman have the #7 and #9 lowest ERA among qualified pitchers in the MLB.
DeSclafani’s counterpart on Friday was Blake Snell. As one of the big acquisitions in the offseason, Snell has been off to a slow start. By far, the biggest issue has been his command. His 5.26 BB/9 is the highest of his career. The walks aren’t the only problem. In the World Series start, Snell infamously was pulled while dealing against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had open comments about his frustrations with being pulled early from games. Well, this season, his command problems have not allowed him to pitch past the 6th inning.
His command was once again a problem in the game in San Francisco. Right out the gate, the first four batters he faced all had at least three balls in the count.
In total, eight batters would see a count with at least balls, and six of them would walk. He would be responsible for four earned runs but only gave up one hit. That one hit being a Buster Posey home run.
“When it comes to panic, there is zero,” Jayce Tingler said after the game. When it comes to Snell’s performance, Tingler did mention that he is very optimistic Snell will turn things around. In fact, in the fourth inning, Snell was aggressive and looked in control.
The Padres’ bats wouldn’t get going until after Snell left the game. Jorge Mateo set up Trent Grisham, who hit the first of a pair of two-run home runs in the inning for the Padres. Manny Machado got on base for Eric Hosmer, who tied the game with his home run to right-center.
That would be all the run production the Padres would get on the night. Last season, the offense was the bright spot of the team. This season, the team ranks in the bottom in most offensive categories. Ultimately that is the missing factor.
Keona Kela would give up the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning. In his appearance, he gave a leadoff home run to Austin Slater. Then two pitches into the next batter, he was pulled from the game. After the game, Jayce Tingler said it was due to forearm tightness. Kela will be re-evaluated.
The other injury of the game came when Austin Nola was hit by a pitch in the hand. That caused his hand to quickly swell, and he was pulled from his catching duties the following half-inning. The Padres hope that his injury is not serious.
Ultimately, the Padres couldn’t take the reigns of the NL West on Friday. The two teams will play again on Saturday.