Petco Park- San Diego, California
On Sunday, the Padres faced the Arizona Diamondbacks in the final game of their opening series.
It was a deflating loss, as Chris Paddack was not sharp and shortstop Fernando Tatís Jr. made two errors defensively.
This will not go down as a memorable game for the team, yet there were still some bright spots, such as Tatís’ moonshot homer in the ninth inning. Luis Campusano did not record any hits but hit two balls extremely hard (108.8, 106.3 mph), which was encouraging for the young backstop despite going 0-for-4 in the box score.
The lineup was held scoreless for the first eight and two-thirds innings, as Diamondbacks starter Taylor Widener threw six shutout innings while allowing just three hits and striking out five. Though Widener deserves some credit for his efforts, he was very lucky to have gotten through six innings without giving up any runs. The Padres hit nine balls over 95 mph versus Widener, and four of those batted balls were hit over 100 mph. Based on the Padres’ expected batting average of .339 on the contact they made versus Widener, it was largely a case of bad luck that kept the Padres from scoring against Arizona on Sunday.
It should be said that the team hit the ball hard many times, yet very few of their batted balls fell in for hits. On the pitching side, the team was unable to overcome a less-than-stellar outing from Chris Paddack on Sunday. This tweet from Dominic Stearn summed up the Padres’ batted ball luck:
The Padres have hit the ball 98+ MPH 6 times so far against Taylor Widener. Only 1 out of the 6 were hits. Baseball is a cruel game.
— Dominic Stearn (@dmstearn19) April 4, 2021
Paddack allowed three runs (two earned) across four innings of work in which he also walked three hitters. In the first inning, Paddack allowed a two-run triple on a low changeup thrown middle-down to David Peralta. It was truly not a bad pitch, and the Statcast expected batting average on identical batted balls was only .210. Paddack labored through four innings and stuck with his trusted fastball and changeup combination, opting not to use the curveball in his opening start for the Friars.
During the spring, he threw a cutter, which he did not throw in his outing versus the Diamondbacks on Sunday. His fastball command was not great on Sunday, and Arizona took advantage as he allowed three batted balls that were hit over 95 mph. Nonetheless, Paddack induced a significant amount of weak contact – He only allowed an average exit velocity of 81.4 mph despite the aforementioned hard contact he gave up.
It was not an outing in which Paddack was on his A-game, yet he showed signs of improvement in the third and fourth inning as he threw some well-placed changeups. He will need to improve his fastball command to be successful as the season moves forward. However, the excellence of his changeup is still evident and remains a dangerous weapon to keep in mind as he works towards getting back to what made him successful in 2019.
One positive to take away from this game was that the Padres bullpen did a phenomenal job making sure the Padres did not allow any more runs after Paddack left the game. Taylor Williams, Nabil Crismatt, Tim Hill, and Keone Kela combined for five strikeouts, two hits, and three walks across five shutout innings to close the game. It was notable that Colombian Crismatt threw two of those innings, using an impressive changeup that looks like a potentially dangerous weapon for the right-hander.
Overall, the Padres pitched pretty well and largely got unlucky on offense because so many of their batted balls just did not fall in for hits. As Dominic Stearn illustrated in his tweet, which was shown above, baseball can be unfair the same way life is. The bottom line is that there are 158 games left to play, and if the Padres hit the ball as hard as they did on Sunday, those same batted balls will drop in for hits more often than not. An unfortunate and partially unlucky 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks should not influence how anyone feels about the talent and potential of this Padres team.