Playoff surprises for the Padres

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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During the regular season, the San Diego Padres ranked well below average in most offensive categories.

Pitching and defense carried the team to the postseason. But their bats woke up at just the right time.

In Wild Card Game 1 against the New York Mets, Yu Darvish pitched seven innings, giving up just one earned run and six hits in a 7-1 victory. Darvish faced off against the formidable, three-time Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer, who has a record of 201/102 l and WHIP of 1.074 in his storied career.

Center fielder Trent Grisham (the guy who “couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat” and batted below the Mendoza line most of the season) blasted a homerun off Scherzer in Game 1. Over the course of the season, Grisham batted 192/.316/.271/.587. In New York, he hit .301/.384/.493/.877.

Against Scherzer, the power-challenged Padres hit four round-trippers in the first five innings. Not known for his power, left fielder Jurickson Profar blasted a three-run homer in the fifth. In fact, the Mets had never given up four home runs in a postseason game in their long history.

Jacob deGrom evened the series in the second game, pitching six innings and giving up just two runs. Grisham provided one of the only offensive bright spots with another home run. Game 2 starter Blake Snell lasted just 3.1 innings giving up four hits and two runs. Relievers Nick Martinez and Adrian Morejon allowed three hits worth five runs. Padres hitter managed six hits total, and Manny Machado (the batting leader in most categories during the regular season) went hitless.

Credit: MLB

Although the Padres lost game two, that win against Scherzer proved they could compete in the postseason. Manager Bob Melvin had saved Joe Musgrove for Game 3 if necessary, and he was ready.

Musgrove began the season with eight wins and an era of 1.90 but had a bit of a slump in midseason.  In the final game against the Mets, Musgrove, the owner of the first no-hitter in the history of the Padres, pitched seven shutout innings. In the sixth, old-school manager Buck Showalter tried to break up Musgrove’s momentum and insisted that umpires check the Padres’ pitcher for foreign substances. Exonerated, Musgrove got back on the mound and pitched as if nothing had happened.

Padres batters chased New York’s starter Chris Bassitt after four innings in which he gave up three hits and three runs.

Yet again, Grisham helped the cause with two hits and one RBI. Juan Soto and Josh Bell, acquired from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline, got their moribund bats working in the series.

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The Padres never expected Profar to be more than a role player when they acquired him in 2020. However, he’s taken over left field, helped the Padres reach the playoffs, and batted .476 in the series against the Mets

The series against the Mets gives the San Diego momentum of the best kind.

It proves to the baseball world that the Padres aren’t a fluke and that the team can count on unsung players and stars like Manny Machado.

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