Padres Ride Big Inning to Victory over Diamondbacks

Padres Diamondbacks

Padres 12, Diamondbacks 3

The San Diego Padres notched seven consecutive hits in the fifth inning, scoring six runs en route to a 12-3 victory over the streaking Arizona Diamondbacks Wednesday night in Phoenix. Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Jorge Mateo, Jurickson Profar, and Ha-Seong Kim each had two hits for the Padres. The victory snapped an 11-game losing streak at Chase Field for the visitors.

A Good Start

Taylor Widener was originally supposed to start pitching for the Diamondbacks. However, he strained his groin muscle Tuesday while running down fly balls in the outfield during batting practice. “He lightly jogged after a ball in the outfield, went down to pick it up, and felt some discomfort,” manager Torey Lovullo said before the game. Widener “stood there for a few minutes, hoping it would be a cramp of some sort, but that wasn’t the case.” Because of this, Riley Smith came over from the alternate site to make an emergency start.

Smith started well, allowing three hits and facing two over the minimum in the first four innings. “Riley (executed) a game plan (and got) some quick, easy outs,” Lovullo said after the game. Meanwhile, a leadoff double in the second by second baseman Eduardo Escobar and a two-out double by shortstop Nick Ahmed gave the Diamondbacks an early lead. A solo home run in the fourth by first baseman Wyatt Mathisen made the score 2-0. “Things were moving in a very positive direction,” said Lovullo.

Padres Bats Wake Up, Diamondbacks Fall in Huge Hole

Then the fifth inning happened, and, according to Lovullo, “it happened fast. We were trying to bridge a gap to the back end of the bullpen…and we just got clipped.” Six consecutive singles — three off Smith and three off reliever J.B. Bukauskas — brought three runs across. That brought up Manny Machado with the bases loaded and nobody out. On 1-0, he hit a sinking liner that hooked toward the left-field line near the corner. David Peralta dove but came up inches short. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, clearing the bases as Machado reached third standing up.

Three-run triples are almost always a dagger, and this was no exception. After facing four batters without recording an out, Bukauskas left the game in favor of lefty Alex Young. Young cleaned up the mess by retiring two hitters on popups, walking Profar — who batted for the second time in the inning — and getting Victor Caratini to ground into a force play.

The Padres tacked one on, making the score 7-2, in the top of the sixth on a solo pinch-home run by Jake Cronenworth off Matt Peacock. In the bottom of the inning, a leadoff double by Asdrubal Cabrera and two-out RBI single by Ahmed made the score 7-3.

Robbery

The Padres added to their lead in the eighth after a disastrous outing by the struggling Yoan Lopez, but a highlight-reel catch by right fielder Josh Rojas saved two runs. With runners on the corners, no one out, and two runs already across, Tatis lifted a deep fly to right. Rojas gathered on the warning track, leaped, and made the catch above the fence, robbing Tatis of a homer.

Rojas knew Tatis hit it well but wasn’t sure it would be a home run. “Off the bat, I actually thought I had a chance the whole way,” he recalled after the game. “I hit the warning track and got my back to the wall.” He continued, “I knew I was close to the wall and knew I could jump and catch it from where I was, so I didn’t want to get too close to the wall and get hung up. (So) I jumped from where I was. When I hit the wall after I caught it, that’s when I realized it was going to be a homer.”

When he hit the wall, he closed his eyes for the impact. “It stinks that I closed my eyes,” Rojas said. “I swear that I saw it the whole way, but I guess I closed my eyes when I hit the wall.”

The Ninth

With the score 10-3, Kevin Ginkel took the mound for mop-up duty in the ninth. He only retired one of the four batters he faced, although the first hitter reached on an error. Ginkel sandwiched a strikeout between a home run by Jorge Mateo and a walk to Caratini. That brought Lovullo out of the dugout again, but no one trotted in from the bullpen. Instead, Andrew Young jogged from the dugout to third base as Cabrera took the hill. It was the first time in 2021 that a position-player pitched for the Diamondbacks and the first career pitching appearance for Cabrera. He retired Kim and pinch-hitter Austin Nola on balls in the air, mercifully ending the inning for the Diamondbacks.

Using Cabrera was an exception to the way Lovullo usually handles position-pitching. “I’m a big fan of a catcher pitching for the simple reason that they have that distance down. They’re going to be throwing the ball back at roughly the same pace, so you’re not adding any extra workload…. But I went to Asdrubal and said, ‘Look, here’s our scenario. Have you ever pitched before?’ He said no. I said, ‘Have you ever thought about it?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘You want to do it if we get to the point?’ He said, ‘Let’s do this!’”

Lovullo continued, “I made the decision prior to the inning that he’d be the guy. It was fun for him, it was fun for us, and he can check one more box off in the amazing career that he’s had to say that he’s finally taken the mound.”

Looking Ahead

Padres closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, facing the minimum three batters. The win brought the Padres to 14-12, while the Diamondbacks fell to 12-12. Riley Smith (0-1) took the loss for the Diamondbacks, while Aaron Northcraft (1-0) got the win in relief. The Padres had to use eight pitchers in the same, since left-handed starting pitcher Ryan Weathers left after only an inning. It was not planned but came due to discomfort in his pitching arm.

The Padres head home for a three-game series with the division-leading San Francisco Giants after having Thursday off. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks will continue their homestand, starting a four-game series with the last-place Colorado Rockies Thursday evening. Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.27 ERA) and Logan Webb (1-1, 4.03 ERA) are scheduled to start Friday for the Padres and Giants, respectively. For the Diamondbacks, Luke Weaver (1-2, 4.57 ERA) will face Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela (1-3, 5.76 ERA) Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players/managers Mentioned:
Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Jorge Mateo, Jurickson Profar, Ha-Seong Kim, Taylor Widener, Torey Lovullo, Riley Smith, Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed, Wyatt Mathisen, J.B. Bukauskas, David Peralta, Alex Young, Victor Caratini, Jake Cronenworth, Matt Peacock, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yoan Lopez, Josh Rojas, Kevin Ginkel, Andrew Young, Austin Nola, Mark Melancon, Aaron Northcraft, Ryan Weathers, Yu Darvish, Logan Webb, Luke Weaver, Antonio Senzatela


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