On Sunday, Fernando Tatis Jr. helped power the San Diego Padres to a 9-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners and keep their streak alive. Winners of nine games in a row, the team welcomed Wil Myers back from the IL. He and the rest of the team flew across the country to begin a swing that will take them to Milwaukee, Houston, and Chicago. No doubt, they’ve packed their confidence and swagger along with the gaudy gold “Swagg Chain” custom ordered by Manny Machado.
Starter Yu Darvish did his part as well, giving up just one run over seven innings and lowering his ERA 1.75. Nabil Crismatt finished for the Padres, pitching two innings and giving up two hits and one earned run. Like Darvish, the rest of the starting rotation, including Chris Paddack, has been eating up more innings and giving their overused relievers a much-needed break.
On Sunday, Tatis Jr., who launched Slam Diego in the midst of last year’s pennant race, smashed two home runs, including a grand slam no-doubter. His first homer left the yard in the bottom of the second inning against Justin Dunn and scored the game’s first run.
But, in the fifth, the Mariners tied the score after Sam Haggerty doubled on a fly ball to left, and Seattle pitcher Dunn followed with a run-scoring two-bagger. Myers, back in right field, misjudged Dunn’s wind-aided fly ball.
The score stayed at 1-1 into the bottom of the sixth inning. Jurickson Profar doubled to right, and Jake Cronenworth swatted a single. Tatis Jr.’s ensuing single scored Profar and sent Cronenworth to second base. Eric Hosmer then singled, moving the runners up a base, and Myers kept the line moving with a sacrifice fly to center field, which scored Cronenworth. Catcher Victor Caratini’s ground out to short plated Tatis Jr.
In the seventh inning with the Padres ahead 4-1, Tommy Pham helped set the table for Tatis Jr. with a triple. Profar walked, and catcher’s interference put Cronenworth at first. With the bases loaded, reliever Robert Dugger faced the surging shortstop and watched the ball soar out of Petco Park.
In the bottom of the eighth, with the score 8-1 in favor of the home team, Ha-Seong Kim (playing third in Machado’s absence) hit his first major league triple to score Caratini who had been hit by a pitch. The Mariners staged a slight rally in the top of the ninth inning as Kyle Seager started with a single and went to second when Kyle Lewis got plunked. Jose Godoy singled, driving in Seattle’s second and final run of the game.
Machado (shoulder tightness) and Trent Grisham (bruised heel) sat out again, but Kim and Jurickson Profar stepped in and stepped up, covering third and center. Manager Jayce Tingler praised the team for weathering adversity the first seven weeks of the season.
Indeed, of late, the Padres have been playing baseball “with joy and verve and poetry” (Bull Durham). Tatis’s resurgence undoubtedly plays a huge part in the team’s nine-game winning streak. What a difference a month makes. By April 21stTatis’ batting line had dipped to .154/.267/.333, and he’d struggled defensively. After Sunday’s game, Tatis had blotted out the memories of his confounding start to the season. As of Monday morning, he’s batting .309/.384/.727 with 13 home runs.
The Padres currently lead all of baseball with a +75 run differential and have crept back up the power rankings. San Diego will play four games against the Milwaukee Brewers and three each against the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs. Blake Snell will start for San Diego against Brandon Woodruff in Game 1. The Brewers, third place in the National League Central, have a 23-23 record and a -19 run differential. The Oakland A’s lead the American League West, and Houston sits in second (26-21), 1.5 games out. The Cubs have a 24-22 record, two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.