Rookie Cronenworth shines as Padres defeat rival Dodgers 5-4 in opener

Credit: AP Photo

Petco Park- San Diego, California

The San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 in the first of a three-game series. Rookie Jake Cronenworth went 1-for-4 and had the game-winning RBI single late in the game. Cronenworth’s defense was also a significant factor saving multiple hits in the win.

San Diego started the season off hot, winning six of their first eight games before losing two-straight in Colorado to the first-place Rockies. With a record of 6-2, the Padres had the best record in the National League West division. They won their first two series of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants.

After losing the series against the Rockies, the Friars sit at 6-4 and are third in NL West going into Monday’s game against the rival Dodgers.

LA is 7-3 so far and look to win the NL West for the eighth year in a row. But this 60-game shortened season won’t have any guarantees as the division is highly competitive. Four and maybe even all five of the teams could finish within a few games of each other when the season ends in late September.

For Monday’s matchup, two of the top young right-handed pitchers in baseball faced-off for the first time this season. Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and Padres’ Chris Paddack are among the best at throwing inside the strike zone. They were the top-two starters in baseball last season, according to Padres radio broadcaster Jesse Agler.

Before the game, the Padres called up outfielder Abraham Almonte to the 30-man roster and optioned right-handed pitcher Jerad Eickhoff to the alternate training site. Almonte got the start at DH and batted 7th to start the game.

It was just a short trip to the main roster for Eickhoff as he was called up on Aug. 1st in replacement of Eric Hosmer entering the 10-day injured list.

Dodgers’ outfielder Joc Pederson led the game off for LA and immediately launched a home run on the first pitch against Paddack. It was 1-0 LA before Paddack had even thrown two pitches.

Not fazed at all, The Sheriff was able to strike out Max Muncy and Justin Turner on consecutive at-bats and 2019 MVP Cody Bellinger failed at a bunt attempt ending the inning.

Padres’ centerfielder Trent Grisham has been overly impressive in his short tenure with San Diego. The lefty came into Monday’s game leading the team in home runs with three and kept it going with a moonshot in the bottom half of the first inning.

Grisham now has four bombs on the season, and his offense is just a bonus compared to his athletic-defensive ability.

The Padres have been doing something this season they don’t usually do, and it has been a noticeable difference. The main focus on offense is to take more walks, and they have been doing that at a high rate so far this season. San Diego had been in the bottom-half in baseball the past few years in walks but now are among the top.

The Friars forced three walks in the first three innings but didn’t register another hit until outfielder Wil Myers took Buehler opposite field for a solo home run and his third of the season. The only two hits were solo shots through four innings for the Padres, and San Diego had their first lead 2-1 entering the fifth inning.

The first four innings were solid for Paddack. He wasn’t bothered by the early home run and shut down LA with four K’s, and only one hit to infielder Corey Seager. Seager kept it going with a double to lead off the top of the fifth inning for LA for his second hit of the game. After a Chris Taylor groundout, first-baseman Matt Beaty singled to center followed by a double by catcher Will Smith and the Dodgers had the lead back 3-2 with only one out in the fifth inning.

Padres’ catcher Austin Hedges saved the inning by throwing Smith out to end the inning as he was trying to get back to third base. Hedges may not have a hit yet this season, but his defense will always be top-notch.

Buehler struck out Hedges and infielder Jurickson Profar to start the bottom half of the fifth inning, and just when he thought it was going to be a quick inning, Padres’ star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. launched another opposite-field solo home run to tie the score at three.

Tatis Jr. has been nothing short of electric so far in his second season in the bigs. At the leadoff spot this season, he is batting .279 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, and his defensive ability has improved.

On the defensive side, first baseman Jake Cronenworth has been dominant, holding down the right side as a rookie. He fielded three tough balls hit down the line, which saved three hits for the Padres.

LA replaced Buehler in the sixth inning with reliever Brusdar Graterol. The Vanderbilt University product ended the night with just five innings pitched, three hits, three earned runs, three K’s, and three walks.

The Padres entered Monday’s game leading the MLB in runs per game with 5.90. It was only a matter of time until the runs came across.

The Padres got to Graterol right away as Machado singled to center to start the inning and moved to second following a Tommy Pham fielder’s choice. Cronenworth then singled to left, and Machado scored retaking the lead 4-3.

After a Myers strikeout, the Dodgers replaced Graterol with lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson, and he immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Almonte and Hedges. The score was 5-3 entering the top of the seventh inning.

Hedges’ first hit of the season came at a perfect time for San Diego as that was a big insurance run late in the game.

Credit: AP Photo

Paddack’s start was finished after six innings. He pitched well despite the early trouble and once again proved to be the Padres ace. The Sheriff struck out five batters, gave up five hits and three earned runs while issuing zero walks. Reliever Emilio Pagan came in and got through the seventh with no problems despite a rough start on the season for the new Padre.

The best man out of the bullpen for San Diego so far has been Drew Pomeranz. The left-hander has yet to give up a run and has eight strikeouts in just over five innings pitched this season. Pomeranz held it down in the eighth and set up a save opportunity for Padres Allstar closer Kirby Yates.

Cody Bellinger led off the top of the ninth for LA against Kirby Yates and launched a deep home run to right, and he definitely knew it. The lead was trimmed to one as there were still zero outs in the inning. Tough to tell if Pomeranz would have been the better call against the lefty Bellinger, but Yates is the closer and Manager Jayce Tingler stuck with his man, and it certainly paid off. Yates struck out Pollock and Seager and quickly had one final out remaining against Chris Taylor.

In a full count with two outs in the ninth, Yates got Taylor to chase on a breaking ball to strike out the side and end the ball game. The Padres won 5-4 against the rival Dodgers and look to win the series tomorrow. Kirby Yates earned his first save of 2020.

In the first game of 10 against LA, the Padres earned a crucial victory in a much needed bounce-back game. The Friars improve to 7-4 as LA falls to 7-4, and both are tied for 2nd in the NL West.

Tomorrow’s game starts at 6:10 p.m., and it’s another great pitching matchup, Dodgers’ Dustin May against Padres’ Dinelson Lamet.

May is 0-0 on the year with a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched. Lamet is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings.

Game notes: Grisham finished 2-3 with a home run, single, and a walk. Myers had two extra-base hits as he launched a homer and a double. The Padres’ bullpen looked strong for the first time this season. Paddack is 2-0 on the season with a 2.65 ERA.

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Chris Spiering
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.
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2 years ago

So happy to see in the morning time the PADRES on winning street. Great team this year with very good new players we hoped for (Pham, Grisham…) or totally surprised (Cronenworth…). GO PADRES – fan from Germany

2 years ago

I am so grateful that major league baseball is back, although with the virus still around, I hope the players can make it thru this shortened season. Any win against the Dodgers is extra sweet and Hedges actually contributed on the offense for once. If he can string a few good games together, maybe he just might have value before the trade deadline. Pham and Croney look like steals early on since both Margot and Renfroe are doing so poorly. Go for the series win tonight with Lamet. Get nasty Dinelson.

Mo Martinez
2 years ago

What an exciting game for both teams, I’m so happy to see the San Diego Padres play an excellent game against the Los Angeles Dodgers who are heavily favored to win World Series this year. Every time the Dodgers come to San Diego their fans take over our town, which is great for our local economy. I’m looking forward to another Padres win tonight. Go Padres!

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