Jake Arrieta gave up five runs, four of which were earned while facing just six batters, and the San Diego Padres bats did not have the energy to get out of the hole.
After being swept, the collapsing Padres find themselves three and a half games back, a deficit that seems insurmountable with the way the Padres are playing. The Cardinals have fought for every game the entire year, constantly finding ways to win. The Padres seemed like they felt entitled to a postseason appearance.
The Cardinals took advantage of two Padres pitchers, Vince Velazquez on Friday and Arrieta on Sunday, who only found themselves in Padres uniforms thanks to numerous injuries to the Padres starting rotation. Emilio Pagan surrendered a back-breaking three runs in an inning of relief on Saturday, blowing a lead after the Padres offense failed to get out of park yet again.
The offense finally made some noise on Sunday, tagging Cardinals starter J.A. Happ for three runs in four innings, playing small ball to do so. Craig Stammen dropped a bunt down that allowed Fernando Tatis Jr. to score Adam Frazier in the third, before an infield single, a double, and a single that bounced off the mound scored a pair in the fourth. With the Padres down by two runs, the bullpen needed to be perfect, something it has not been for the past month.
After Arrieta’s god-awful outing, which officially ended with a right adductor strain, Jayce Tingler decided to go to Craig Stammen as his first man out of the bullpen. Stammen was splendid, allowing just two hits, and crucially no runs, in three and two-thirds innings. After Stammen, Pierce Johnson was the next Padre to come in, and Johnson struggled. He gave up four hits and two runs to the Cardinals, bringing their lead back to four and undoing most of the work the Padres had done off Happ.
Tommy Pham, facing his former team, got back one of the runs with a home run, taking a first-pitch sinker over the left-field wall. Nabil Crismatt put together another scoreless inning, extending his streak to 13.2 innings without a run. Dinelson Lamet allowed a run on a ground ball single that was just out Jake Cronenworth’s reach. This proved to be the winning run, as the Padres struck back in the ninth.
After the Padres started the eighth with back-to-back singles from Cronenworth and Manny Machado, Tommy Pham struck again, driving both of them in with a double. Pham advanced to third on a throwing error while attempting to nab Machado at the plate, allowing Pham to come in on Eric Hosmer’s second RBI groundout of the game. Wil Myers hit a two-out double, but Adam Frazier just missed what would have been a clutch, season-changing home run, instead the ball settled calmly into the glove of centerfielder Harrison Bader.
The Padres went down in order in the ninth, hardly troubling closer Giovanny Gallegos. The Padres beat themselves today, as Tatis Jr., playing in center field, dropped a routine fly ball, allowing a run that proved crucial to score. The Padres’ Gold Glove-winning centerfielder Trent Grisham was left on the bench for the game, a decision that proved frustrating. –With the Padres down to their final few games of the season, a 2-8 road trip that put the Padres three and a half games back feels like it’s the nail in the coffin. With Fernando Tatis Jr. on the Padres, there’s always a chance that he can pull the nail out, but it’ll take a dramatic shift of fortunes for the Padres.