San Diego Padres First Half Superlatives
With every baseball season comes gut-punching losses. It’s bound to happen throughout a 162-game season. The Padres’ punch to the gut came on June 23rd in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. For one reason or another, the Pirates have the Padres’ number this season, winning five of the six contests. This looked to be a game where San Diego would finally be able to break free of their chains. It started innocently enough, with the Friars building a 7-4 lead heading into the ninth inning with their nearly automatic, All-Star closer Yates taking the hill to close it out. That’s when the wheels fell off the wagon. The Pirates peppered Yates in the ninth to tie the game at seven.
On to the 11th where the Padres once again jumped out to a three-run lead, making it 10-7 heading into the bottom of the 11th. Phil Maton came in to try and earn the save. After allowing a walk, two hits, and a run, Maton was removed in favor of Matt Wisler, who allowed a hit with runners on second and third, tying the game once again at 10. This time, the Pirates were able to finish the job as Wisler walked in the walk-off run with the bases loaded, completing the crushing loss.
The Padres won 45 games in the first half of the season. Thus there were many to choose from, which is a good problem to have. None stick out quite like the total insanity that was the series in Colorado in June and specifically on Friday, June 14. The Padres trailed in this game 10-4 and then 11-5 heading into the ninth inning. The Padres entered the ninth with a one percent chance of winning, down by six with three outs left. That dropped to below one percent when Josh Naylor struck out after a Fernando Tatis Jr. single. Then Manny Machado also singled and then both he and Tatis advanced one base on a wild pitch. Then a single by Eric Hosmer and a home run by Renfroe all of a sudden made it 11-7. After two singles and a walk, Tatis came back up again with the bases loaded and two outs, the Padres’ win probability still at just 16 percent. He lined a single up the middle off of Rockies closer Wade Davis to miraculously tie the game at 11, completing the six-run comeback, the Padres’ biggest ninth-inning comeback in team history.
Fernando Tatis Jr. ties it in the ninth.
Kid is clutch.pic.twitter.com/uVDgunMnDo
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) June 15, 2019
The drama did not end there, as the game was still tied going into extra innings. Both teams traded scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th before the Padres broke it open in the 12th. Back-to-back doubles by Austin Allen and Machado gave San Diego a 13-11 lead before yet another Renfroe homer (his third of the day) sealed the win, extending the lead to 15-11. The Padres were able to add one more, going into the bottom of the 12th with a 16-11 lead. They would go on to win 16-12 in one of the wildest games in franchise history. This gave the team a boost to go 8-4 over their next 12 games and maintain relevance in the Wild Card race.
Longest Home Run
Hunter Renfroe has the perfect swing to smack some majestic moonshots, and he currently owns the Padres’ longest home run so far this season. It was initially measured at 486 feet before a correction was made, making it 470 feet, still an impressive shot. This was his 10th homer of the year and helped the Padres win the game 4-3.
HUNTER RENFROE TEEEEEEEEEES OFF
Tale of the tape: 4️⃣8️⃣6️⃣ feet!!!#FriarFaithful | @Padres | @MLBONFOX pic.twitter.com/fEcPnredar
— FOX Sports San Diego (@FOXSportsSD) May 12, 2019
Best Non-Home Run Hit
During that exciting, wacky, wild series with the Rockies at Coors Field in June, the Padres’ bats just pulverized the Rockies pitching staff. Two games after the epic six-run comeback, the Padres were at it again in the ninth. They entered the top of the ninth down 13-10. Wil Myers singled home a run to cut it to two before Greg Garcia came up, now with Myers at first and Machado at second. He lined a ball into the left-center gap that rattled around, allowing the tying runs to score and he came into third for his second triple of the game and with the most clutch hit of his brief Padres career. He has come through on multiple occasions and has been a very underrated signing for this .500 club.
Best Individual Hitting Performance
This performance was teased earlier. A lot of the most memorable moments of the first half came in one single series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver. Hunter Renfroe led the charge in that epic six-run comeback with the ninth three-homer game in Padres history and his second. He smashed a solo home run in the second to break the scoreless tie, his second homer of the game cut the Rockies lead to 11-9 in the ninth inning and his third came in the 12th inning, which sealed the miraculous comeback. He became only the second Padre ever to have two three-homer games, Steve Finley being the other.
Best Individual Pitching Performance
There was a lot of buzz surrounding Chris Paddack’s start against the New York Mets on May 6th. Paddack was using the fact that Mets slugger Pete Alonso was named April’s Rookie of the Month instead of himself as motivation to get Alonso, and the rest of the Mets, out that evening at Petco Park. A war of words ensued from both sides before the first pitch was even thrown. When someone talks the talk and backs it up in dramatic fashion, it grabs everyone’s attention, and Paddack did just that.
Chris Paddack, Overpowering 97mph Fastball…pitching with emotion. ??? pic.twitter.com/jZZtYWulv8
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 7, 2019
Alonso came up in the first inning, and Paddack struck him out on four pitches. He did the same thing in Alonso’s second try. In the sixth inning, Paddack got Alonso to ground out, finishing his night 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against the Padres’ Texan rookie. But that is just part of the story. Paddack was on his A+ game the entire night, dueling against reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. Paddack beat deGrom that night as he finished with 7 2/3 innings and 11 strikeouts, both career highs. This pitching performance captured the attention of the entire baseball world.
Most Exciting Play
This player made a lot of headlines in the first half as this article is chock full of the name Hunter Renfroe. The Padres were staring down a sweep at the hands of the Dodgers at home. They entered the ninth inning down by one, facing All-Star closer Kenley Jansen. The Padres got three straight singles before two straight outs and Renfroe came up with the bases loaded and two outs, San Diego down to its last hope. Renfroe then sent a screaming line drive into the Western Metal Supply Co. building for a walk-off grand slam, one of the most exciting plays that can happen in baseball and it made it all the sweeter that it happened against the Dodgers.
Hunter Renfroe. Grand slam. Ballgame!
The Padres win 8-5 on the walk-off ? pic.twitter.com/7MBuBHLtwL
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 6, 2019
Biggest Question Moving Forward
Is this team really a contender or a mirage? We have seen multiple faces of this Padres team, one that can sweep the first place Brewers or take three of four from the Dodgers in LA and we have also seen this team get swept by the last place Giants at home and lose six in a row. Somehow, the Padres ended the first half at .500 and just two games back of a Wild Card spot. The Padres have not finished the first half at .500 or better since 2010 when they were leading the N.L. West until September. So which team shows up in the second half? The easy answer would be to say both since the Friars have not made any major improvements. With youth comes inconsistency and the Padres are one of the youngest teams in baseball. If the Padres do not make any additions, they will likely continue to hover around .500 and fade from Wild Card contention.
The Padres do not have the pitching depth to keep up in the Wild Card race with teams like the Phillies, Nationals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks. That’s what they are up against. Be that as it may, this team is better than any club this team has fielded in the last decade. They have been must-see TV, and that should continue. Whether they soar to new heights, plateau at .500 or gloriously go up in flames, whatever happens, it will certainly be interesting, the most interesting the Padres have been in nine years.
Native of Escondido, CA. Lived in San Diego area for 20 years. Padres fan since childhood (mid-90s). I have been writing since 2014. I currently live near Seattle, WA and am married to a Seattle sports girl. I wore #19 on my high school baseball team for Tony Gwynn. I am a stats and sports history nerd. I attended BYU on the Idaho campus. I also love Star Wars.
Wil Myers isn’t disappointing, this is the player he’s always been. I honestly don’t know why everything thinks he’s a perennial MVP candidate but he isn’t.