Tatis Shines in Return as Padres Drub Diamondbacks

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Padres 8, Diamondbacks 2

PHOENIX, Aug. 15 — Fernando Tatis, Jr. shone in his first day back from the injured list, leading the San Diego Padres to an 8–2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon. The favorite for National League MVP went 4-for-5 with a double, two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored in the rout. This avoided a four-game sweep.

Padres Take Narrow Lead, Diamondbacks Respond

Tatis — the right fielder — led off the game, drawing a roar from the Padres faithful among the 17,722 in attendance. His double to left off Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen gave the Padres a runner in scoring position, but it went for naught thanks to a groundout, a strikeout, and a fly to right.

Both teams notched a run in the third. The Padres got theirs thanks to a leadoff solo homer by Tatis, his 32nd of the season. This gave the visitors a one-run lead, their first since Thursday night. The Diamondbacks evened it up thanks to a leadoff single by second baseman Josh Rojas, who scored when center fielder Ketel Marte followed with a triple.

Taking Over the Game

The fifth saw the Padres take the lead for good. It started with a leadoff home run — his second of the game — by Tatis. Second baseman Adam Frazier followed with a single before third baseman Manny Machado flied to left. That brought up shortstop Jake Cronenworth, who showed why he was an All-Star with a two-run blast. Rojas hit a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the fifth to make it a 4–2 ballgame.

In the top of the eighth, the Padres batted around and blew the game open. A pair of one-out singles by catcher Victor Caratini and center fielder Trent Grisham off Miguel Aguilar got the ball rolling. Recent call-up Sean Poppen relieved Aguilar, and it was an outing Poppen would like to forget. Pinch-hitter Wil Myers walked, loading the bases for Tatis. He didn’t homer but still did plenty of damage with a two-run single. Frazier lined to left before Machado walked. This re-loaded the bases for Cronenworth, who got an easy RBI with a bases-loaded walk. A wild pitch brought Tatis across to finalize the score at 8–2.

A Bright Spot

Rojas went 3-for-4 Sunday with a double, a home run, and an RBI. He also scored both of his team’s runs. In his last 13 games, Rojas is slashing .489/.582/.778 (22-for-45) with eight doubles, a triple, a homer, six RBI, 10 walks, eight strikeouts, 10 runs scored, and a .565 wOBA. On balls in play that don’t leave the yard (BABIP), Rojas is batting .583. This is more impressive when considering that Rojas was on the injured list between July 22 and August 9 due to a dislocated pinky.

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said about Rojas’ play, “He’s an unbelievable talent (with) a very good mindset. He is being rewarded with some good outcomes from all the hard work that he’s put in. Those are the most gratifying times for all of us, but especially Josh. He was, I think, 10-for-17” — actually, 10-for-15 — “in this series. I know that he has been an offensive catalyst for us. There’s a home run that he had today that was a quality pitch. He dug it out and almost hit it in the pool, so I can’t say enough good things about him.

“But I want it to continue. I want him to stay on edge and continue proving himself. (Josh needs to) continue creating good opportunities for himself by being engaged in learning every single day. He has been, and that’s why it’s been a great year for him. There’s no need for that to change.”

Tatis and Gallen

Lovullo spoke highly of Tatis after the game. “He’s great for the game. He plays hard. He’s a tremendous talent. I’m not sure how many days he spent on the injured list. I don’t know if this was his 11th day — it could have been. But considering everything that he’s gone through, and the pain that I saw that he was in after the slide at third base (that caused the shoulder injury), and then the ability to recover, gain some strength, and on day one against big league pitching do what he did today…. It was very impressive.”

However, he also mentioned that the pitching performance was not typical for his ace. “There were eight hits and, I think, 13 total baserunners. That’s not who he is. I know that. He’s aware of that. And, I know he’s gonna come out pounding away at it for the next several days to make his next start as good it could possibly be. It’s an easy bet for him to say that he’s going to figure things out or attempt to figure some things out. There have been some tough outings, but when he does it, he carries us deep into the ballgame. (He) allows very few baserunners with very few run-scoring opportunities. When things hit a little speed bump, you can see what happens. Today was one of those days.”

Looking Ahead

The Padres had a “bullpen game.” The starter — Craig Stammen — and first reliever — Reiss Knehr — both pitched two innings. Following them, in order, Pierce Johnson, Tim Hill, Daniel Hudson, Emilio Pagan, and Austin Adams each pitched one. Knehr earned the awarded win (1–0). Gallen (1–7) took the loss. The Padres will head to Denver for a three-game Monday-Wednesday series with the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks will stay home. After an off-day on Monday, they will host the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies for a three-game Tuesday-Thursday series.

Quick Hits

First baseman Christian Walker was out of the lineup both Saturday and Sunday. Lovullo said that he’s “fine” and will be back in the lineup on Tuesday. Lovullo and the coaching staff wanted to give him some rest days in conjunction with Monday’s off-day.

The pitching rotation for the Phillies series is still in flux. It will all be based on how Taylor Widener, who has been out with a bad cold, feels.

Main Photo:

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Players Mentioned:

Fernando Tatis, Jr., Zac Gallen, Josh Rojas, Ketel Marte, Adam Frazier, Manny Machado, Jake Cronenworth, Victor Caratini, Trent Grisham, Miguel Aguilar, Sean Poppen, Wil Myers, Torey Lovullo, Craig Stammen, Reiss Knehr, Pierce Johnson, Tim Hill, Daniel Hudson, Emilio Pagan, Austin Adams, Christian Walker, Taylor Widener