Another day, another frustrating loss for the Padres, who seem to be locked in a death spiral with the faltering Reds.
A three-run home run from Mookie Betts broke open a tied game in the fifth inning, and the Padres eighth-inning rally fell short, leading to a 5-4 loss. The Dodgers picked up just four hits and had just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position, which was Betts’ home run.
Fernando Tatis Jr. made his first start at shortstop in a month and a half, and he continued his case for an MVP campaign with his NL leading 38th home run on the year.
His fourth-inning home run tied the game, taking Cy Young hopeful Walker Buehler out of the yard after the right-hander hung a cut fastball. The Padres had eight hits but went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, in a frustrating display. Of the Padres’ eight hits, six came from their 300 million dollar men, Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, but the supporting cast was unable to either set the table for them or drive them in.
After facing the minimum six batters through the first two innings, the trouble began for Chris Paddack in the third. After a leadoff walk to Cody Bellinger, in which the decisive fourth ball caught the top of the strike zone, Gavin Lux doubled him home. Lux’s double appeared to die after it bounced in front of left fielder Tommy Pham, and the Padres relay attempt came up just short of nabbing Bellinger at the plate. After back-to-back sacrifices, Lux doubled the Dodgers advantage, despite Paddack surrendering just one hit.
The decisive fifth inning was extremely avoidable, as after Paddack set down the first two batters, a two-out ground ball single squeezed its way up the middle. The ball had just a 30% chance of resulting in a hit, but the favorable odds went against the Padres. With opposing starter Walker Buehler up, it looked like Paddack had a great opportunity to make the single null and void, but he walked Buehler on four pitches. Jayce Tingler decided to lift Paddack after Buehler’s at-bat, which brought Craig Stammen into the game to try and end the threat. He instead gave up the home run to Mookie Betts, which was just out of Trent Grisham’s reach.
With the Padres down three, Manny Machado picked up a leadoff double, and after being originally called out at second, the review revealed he snuck in just before Corey Seager’s tag. The double was one of three times Machado hit a ball over 100 miles per hour on the day, as the Padres had six of the seven hardest-hit balls of the night. While the Padres left Machado at second, the crucial at-bats came in the eighth.
After Adam Frazier was hit by a pitch, he stole second before coming around to score on a Machado single. Machado then stole second, and a weak Fernando Tatis Jr. line drive scored Machado. Tatis moved to third on Eric Hosmer’s groundout, putting the tying run on base with just one out. The Dodgers lifted the struggling Blake Treinen for Joe Kelly, who struck out Wil Myers and Tommy Pham on just seven pitches to end the inning.
While the game was not officially over until the final three outs in the ninth inning, the bottom of the Padres order went down quickly and quietly, making the Padres missed opportunities in the eighth even more glaring. 8
As mentioned, the Reds lost to the Cardinals, so the Padres still find themselves tied with them for the final wild-card spot. The Cardinals and Phillies are both within three games, and it seems almost certain that the Padres will need to find a way to get hot, or else someone else will. The Padres have not won three straight games since early August, and if they continue to lie there, they will not back their way into the playoffs.