The San Diego Padres defeated the Oakland A’s by the score of 9-6 in the team’s first home game of the year.
Joey Lucchesi and Matt Strahm were solid for the Padres in their Tuesday afternoon Cactus League offering, setting the stage for a back-and-forth affair between San Diego and Oakland that ended in a 9-6 Padres win.
Lucchesi, who led San Diego with ten wins and 158 strikeouts last season, settled in for a 1-2-3 frame in the second inning after surrendering an earned run on a double and a wild pitch to open the game.
The 26-year-old gave way to fellow left-hander Matt Strahm, who turned in a scoreless bottom of the third with one strikeout. Strahm’s outing would be the last of the Padres’ pitching regulars from last season on the day.
“Both Lucchesi and Strahm kind of set the tone for us, and I really like where both those two were at,” first-year Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after the game. “Strahm was really aggressive in the zone, and he worked on a couple two-seamers into lefties, and I thought that was good.”
Tingler added that for Lucchesi, the outing was as much about getting back into real game action as it was anything else.
“Just kinda getting out there and getting all his pitches working,” Tingler said. “I thought he thew the ball really well.”
On the other side of the ball, San Diego was unable to get much going early. Hard-throwing lefty Jesus Luzardo, the A’s top-ranked prospect, kept the Padres quiet through his two shutout innings of work, allowing just one hit alongside his two strikeouts.
After Luzardo left the game, the Padres were able to get on the board, doing so in unremarkable fashion. Oakland lefty Donnie Hart hit catcher Luis Torrens in his protective elbow guard with the bases loaded for the Padres’ first run of the game, then Hart’s replacement, right-hander Brian Schlitter, walked Juan Lagares in the following at-bat for their second, knotting the score at 2-2.
Yacabonis, a non-roster invitee (NRI) who pitched with Baltimore last season, surrendered one earned run on one hit, recording one strikeout. Valdez, a 6-foot-8, 221-pound NRI from the Padres organization, was touched up for two earned runs on four hits, also with one strikeout, moving the score to 4-2 in favor of the A’s.
Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, San Diego tied the game again, this time with hits, not free passes. Lagares got things going with an RBI single to shallow right field, plating outfielder Hudson Potts, then shortstop Gabriel Arias poked an opposite-field line drive through the same gap. Up next was second baseman Esteban Quiroz, who’s game-tying single to right was a nearly carbon copy of Arias’ hit before him.
Well into a flurry of routine spring training substitutions across the diamond, though, the Padres fell behind once more in the seventh when minor-league right-hander Emmanuel Ramirez gave up an RBI single up the middle to A’s centerfielder Luis Barrera.
But in the bottom of the frame, the Friars re-captured the lead for good, doing so behind a single from outfielder Edward Olivares and doubles from third basemen Hudson Potts and Jason Vosler, bringing the score to 7-6 San Diego. San Diego expanded their lead to 9-6 later in the inning with a single from shortstop Owen Miller and a sacrifice fly from Quiroz.
They would go on to win by the same score, 9-6, as Chih-Wei Hu tossed a scoreless ninth for the Padres that was punctuated by a spectacular diving catch by Olivares in right field for the final out.
On a day in which many of the Padres’ minor leaguers contributed to the team’s victory in the game’s later innings, Tingler mentioned that he was pleased with Arias’ performance both at shortstop and at the plate.
“To come over at 19 years old and play with a slow heartbeat is pretty impressive,” Tingler said. “Probably equally impressive is — after rolling over those first two at-bats — he comes up in a big moment in the game, gets to two strikes, chokes up off the knob, and shoots the ball the other way for a hit. So just seeing the adjustments in the game has been impressive.”
Wil Myers – 0-2, K, HBP
Trent Grisham – 0-3, K
Greg Garcia – 1-3, 1B
Ty France – 1-3, 2B