The San Diego Padres looked to be done for the evening as the team went up to bat for the top of the eighth inning on Tuesday night. 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner had been pitching a gem of a game. To that point Bumgarner had a shut out going with 13 strike outs. Yonder Alonso worked a full-count walk to lead off the eighth and Will Middlebrooks followed with an opposite field double to right field.
The Padres suddenly got into the game. After Clint Barmes was called out on a check swing, Padres manager Pat Murphy was ejected. Murphy demanding home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth ask for assistance on the check swing. The umpire refused and threw Murphy out of the game. Coach Murphy’s first ejection in his major league career. That did seem to motivate the Padres.
After the ejection, Will Venable stepped up and sent an opposite field double to left field off of Bumgarner. That double tied the game and knocked the San Francisco Giants ace out of the game. Success for the Padres, and it happened in the span of three batters. All put the ball in play, and presto…. good things happened.
The Padres went on to win the game in extra innings as Alexi Amarista hit a ground ball that just avoided being wrangled by the Giants infield. His base hit would drive in Derek Norris and that is all the Padres would need on the night. Craig Kimbrel came on to close out the bottom of the 11th inning, and the Padres took a very important first game from the defending Champions.
The win was of most importance as both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamond Backs lost. That means the three teams above the Padres in the standings in the National League West all lost and the Padres gained a game on all three. Currently standing only 4.5 games behind the Dodgers for first place, the Padres are most surely not out of the race.
Shamefully a lot of Padres fans have already thrown in the towel. As if they expected a World Series title and nothing less would be acceptable. This team needs time to connect and the firing of Bud Black has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the gelling process. Pat Murphy is a different type of motivator than Black and the team will need to adjust to that. These next few weeks are very pivotal for the Padres, they need to win now and not fall too far behind in the playoffs standings.
This Padres team seems to be on the verge of a long winning streak. The team has shown in recent weeks that the pitching has settled down. No longer is the team giving up home runs at a record pace and the bullpen has been solid of late. If the team can find consistency and play better baseball then the sky is truly the limit for this team. They have all the pieces, they just need to perform.