Petco Park0- San Diego, California
In the first game without Fernando Tatis Jr., there was a sense of urgency to get a win. Losing the game would bring the Padres to an even record on the season. On top of that, the division-rival Giants would take the series.
Thankfully for Padre fans, their ace Yu Darvish was on the bump. After a rough first outing in which he gave up four runs in 4.2 innings, he was ready for a bounce-back performance.
Darvish looked like the dominant pitcher that finished second in Cy Young voting last year. He only allowed three hits all game, one of which was a Brandon Crawford home run, which was the lone run the Giants put up.
Yu Darvish was dicing up the Giants’ lineup and kept them off-balance all game. He induced a 31% whiff rate which led to seven strikeouts on the night. A key to the success was how much he was finding the zone–55 of his 89 total pitches landed as strikes. This allowed him to only walk one batter and pitch six innings this time around.
After Darvish was done for the night, the bullpen picked off right where he left off. The collection of Keona Kela, Emilio Pagán, and Mark Melancon did not allow a single hit in all their three innings of work. They also struck out four while not walking anyone.
All three of these relief pitchers were in the closer conversation coming into the season, and it appears that Jayce Tingler is going to use them in high-leverage situations. Pagan made his fourth appearance of the season, and he has a leverage indicator of 1.32. A LI of 1 means it’s an average pressure situation. Anything above one means it’s a higher-pressure situation. All in all, he has handled it with poise and hasn’t given up a run all season.
Melancon has started to step into the closer role for the Padres. Each of his three appearances has been in save situations, in which he has successfully converted them. His curveball looked sharp this outing. In fact, the seven times he threw it, three of the pitches produced a whiff. It should be expected for him to continue as the closer when his workload allows.
Amazingly, the Padres lineup is missing Tatis and still looks very deadly. In the second inning, the Padres had their first chance to strike when Wil Myers and Ha-Seong Kim beat out infield singles to get runners on the corners. Unfortunately, Victor Caratini would ground into a double play to end the threat.
In the 3rd inning, a trio of singles by Jake Cronenworth, Manny Machado, and Eric Hosmer brought in the first Padre run and made it a 1-1 game. The Padres wouldn’t threaten until the 7th inning. Kim walked to get on base. Caratini found a slider that he liked and sent the ball into the right-field stands.
— Bally Sports San Diego (@BallySportsSD) April 7, 2021
“I knew he was a good player. He is a lot better than what we even expected. How well he works with the staff, his game knowledge. He is in control. Calls a great game and receives, and he has a lot of confidence with a lot of those pitches. It’s early in the season, but he has come up with some really big hits this season”, coach Jayce Tingler said about Caratini after the game.
The second biggest hit in the 7th inning was by Tucupita Marcano. He drove a ball to left field to record his first big league hit. That hit had the second-highest expected batting average on balls in play all game. The number six prospect in the Padres organization, he was a surprise addition to the Opening Day roster. In spring training, he hit his way onto the team, and that is going to be what keeps him on the big league roster moving forward.
In the series finale, Blake Snell takes the mound to try and win the series.