It was a good run, Padres

Throughout the 2022 MLB postseason, there were two types of teams.

There were the teams looking to extend their dominance to the very end and there were the teams looking to write one more chapter to their fairy tale story.

The San Diego Padres brought postseason baseball back to Petco Park for the first time since 2006 and in doing so, overcame a 101-win team in the New York Mets and a 110-win team in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Four straight exciting home games, more than anyone could really ask for.

“I wouldn’t ask for any better group to go to war with every single day,” Padres star third baseman Manny Machado said. “We did a hell of a job all year. We accomplished a lot of things. People didn’t expect us to be here, but here we were.

Unfortunately for the Padres, their matchup against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS was a battle between the teams of destiny and it came down to home field advantage. After being away from the big stage, the atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park was second to none in baseball and a big reason why the Phillies are 5-0 at home and on their way to the World Series.

“We fought our best fight, and it wasn’t enough,” Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove said. “It’s not so much the fact that we lost and we’re going home as much as it is that no one’s ready to go home.”

It was a tough way for the Padres to go. After losing a close 4-2 contest in Game 3 on Friday, the Padres led 4-0 in the first inning and 6-4 going into the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 4 on Saturday. And yet, San Diego went into Game 5 facing elimination.

The Padres had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning with their best reliever not named Josh Hader on the mound. The bullpen has been rock solid all postseason long but even they ran into the buzzsaw that is Bryce Harper.

The NLCS was originally billed as a series between two teams that signed the two biggest free agents of the 2018 offseason class in Harper and Machado. Both the Padres and Phillies visioned a pennant in their future with these signings and it just so happened that they stood in each others’ way.

Machado played well but Harper was out there as if he was swinging King Arthur’s sword. Harper had at least one hit in each of the five games and just as he started the NLCS with a home run, he ended it with the go-ahead two-run home run off Robert Suarez in the eighth inning.

And with that, the third best season in Padres history came to a close.

If there was ever a lesson to take from the Padres this year is that this was a team that was the only game in a town investing in a product that brought everyone together. It can happen anywhere within the big leagues with the right ambition.

The Padres were a team that seemed to be permanently destined to be under the Dodgers’ heel but made the moves in the trade deadline to bring in Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Josh Hader to turn their fortunes around. They may not be going to the World Series but upsetting the Dodgers in the NLDS will go down as one of the biggest victories in San Diego history.

And the memories of those games proved to be well worth the 16-year wait.

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