Blake Snell continued his most dominant month as a San Diego Padre, hurling a gem on the last day of the month while leading the Padres to a much-needed 3-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Snell was literally un-hittable in his 25th start of the season, going seven innings without allowing a Diamondback hit.
The only reason Snell was held from going past seven innings to try and complete his no-hit bid was his high pitch count, which has been an issue for the lefty all season long. Snell, who had thrown over 100 pitches in four of his previous five starts, including a career-high 122 in his last start, reached 107 pitches by the end of the seventh.
“Do I think he could have finished it? Maybe. I don’t know. Did we want to get in the 135-140 range? No, that’s something we’re not interested in,” said manager Jayce Tingler regarding the decision to pull Snell after seven no-hit innings.
Regardless of the no-hit side story, Snell gave the Padres exactly what they needed as the calendar now turns to September. Snell finished his seven innings with 10 strikeouts and only two walks. He was dominant with all three of his pitches and is starting to look more and more like the pitcher he is certainly capable of being.
“I’m getting in my groove. It just took a while. I was never worried. All the stuff was there. But this is all new to me, leaving a place after 10 years, this is all difficult,” replied Snell when asked about his strong August after an up-and-down start to his Padres’ career.
Including Tuesday’s start, Snell finished the month with six starts that saw him throw 36.2 lights-out innings. He totaled 54 strikeouts (an average of nine per start) to only 12 walks, seven earned runs, and only 19 hits. His ERA for the month was 1.72, which dropped his season ERA from 5.24 at the beginning of the month to 4.31 as August comes to an end.
“He’s starting to gain a lot of confidence down in the zone, and he’s been outstanding. This is the type of momentum we need to build going into these last four-five weeks,” said Tingler regarding the strong starting pitching from Snell and others of late.
Snell was supported by a Padres’ offense that wasn’t necessarily dominant but was proficient enough to help their pitcher.
Manny Machado opened up the scoring for San Diego in the fifth inning with a two-out, two-strike home run with Jake Cronenworth on first base. The home run for Machado was his 23rd of the season, also giving him his 85th and 86th RBIs for the year. The home run was a laser to left field on a breaking ball left over the plate by Diamondbacks’ starter Zac Gallen.
The no-hit bid for the Padres as a team was lost after Snell was pulled from the game, as Pierce Johnson replaced Snell and allowed a single to David Peralta. Peralta’s single would be one of three hits the Diamondbacks finished with. Padres’ closer Mark Melancon completed the shutout for the Padres while allowing a pair of hits and earned his 36th save of the season.
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Big picture, the win was crucial for San Diego as they head into September for multiple reasons. First, the Padres have back-to-back wins for the first time since August 9th and 10th, when they defeated Miami in consecutive days. More importantly, however, the victory puts the Padres in a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for the second Wild Card spot as the Reds were idle on Tuesday due to a postponed game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Padres will go for a series sweep against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon, as Yu Darvish leads the way before the team heads home for a weekend series against the Houston Astros at Petco Park. A victory on Wednesday would go a long way toward building the team’s confidence heading into an off day Thursday before taking on a really good Astros team.
Kevin is a San Diego Native covering the San Diego Padres and their affiliates