Sanchez & Tatis homer, Padres win 6-3

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Credit: USA Today Sports

San Diego’s new formula got the job done again on Tuesday night as Gary Sanchez’s renaissance continued.

Sanchez hit a three-run home run in the first inning, helping the Padres to an early 4-0 advantage. Joe Musgrove did enough to pick up his fourth win of 2023, while San Diego’s bullpen rebounded from a frustrating performance on Sunday to secure a series-opening victory.

It didn’t take long for San Diego to create offense against Cleveland’s starter Tanner Bibee, as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto walked to start the game. Tatis scored on Xander Bogaerts’ sacrifice fly before Jake Cronenworth’s single set the table for Sanchez. Bibee hung a slider on the first pitch to Sanchez, and he smashed it into left-center field. “He’s {Sanchez} been kind of a guy who sets the tone for us,” said Bob Melvin after the win. It’s his sixth home run in just 13 games as a Padre, a stretch that has jump-started a stagnant Padres offense. 

Musgrove did give one of the four runs back in the second inning when Josh Bell sent a homer into the Petco Porch in right field. The 2022 Padre has struggled mightily in 2023, but he carved a slider over the right field wall. Tatis made sure San Diego’s four-run lead was restored in the bottom of the frame, though, as he hit his team-leading 13th homer of the season. His 107-mile-per-hour homer was followed by Juan Soto’s 115.3-mile-per-hour single as the Padres were hammering the ball. 

The game then settled down, with neither team threading to score again until the fifth inning. Steven Kwan drove home a run with a grounder, but Bogaerts doubled home Manny Machado in the bottom of the frame. Each time the Guardians scored, San Diego’s offense responded, keeping Cleveland at an arm’s length. 

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While Jose Ramirez did score in the sixth inning on Tyler Freeman’s sacrifice fly, the game never felt like it was going to change hands. Steven Wilson and Nick Martinez worked scoreless frames to give Josh Hader a chance to record his third save in four games, and he did just that, striking out the side in the ninth inning. After the game, Hader referred to his setup men as “a bunch of dogs,” thanking them for giving him plenty of chances to lock down games.

It wasn’t Joe Musgrove’s sharpest night, but he made it through six innings of three-run ball. He allowed seven hits, one of which was Bell’s homer, walked one, and struck out five Guardians. 

Cleveland’s bullpen, which is among the best in baseball, did not allow a run in four strong innings, but San Diego’s offense had already done plenty of damage against Bibee.

Michael Wacha, who has been the Padres’ best pitcher over the last month and a half, will take on Aaron Civale tomorrow as San Diego seeks to win the series.

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