As the Padres looked to stay alive mathematically in the wild card race and catch the Giants at 78-80, they relied on Seth Lugo to come through. He took the mound making his 26th start of the year and made it his best. Lugo shredded through the San Francisco lineup and kept them off the board all night long. Meanwhile, the San Diego lineup was carried on the shoulders of Juan Soto, who used some key swings to bring home the majority of the run support on the night. In the end, the Padres locked up a 4-0 victory to force a rubber match on Wednesday.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
Lugo save his best start for last with a gem in the bay
Right-hander Seth Lugo left it all on the field as he made his final start of the 2023 season. From the jump, he was looking sharp, as the San Francisco lineup consistently struggled to generate any offense and get on the board. Lugo continued to carve through Giants hitters all night long as he came up just one out short of a complete game shutout. Through 8 and 2/3 innings, he was able to strike out 7 and allow a mere 3 hits.
It was his best start of the season, and he will be happy to finish the year with a winning record of 8-7. Lugo was a big part of the Padres’ rotation this year and did a great job providing consistency to a rotation that saw its fair share of injuries. He stands behind only Blake Snell (180 IP) for the most innings pitched this year by a San Diego starting pitcher with 146.1. The 33-year-old will have one more year under contract with the team before he hits free agency in 2025.
Hader comes in to shut the door, grabs another save
Starter Seth Lugo entered the ninth inning looking to go the distance and finish off a complete game shutout. However, he ran into some trouble as a walk from Luis Matos and a single from Thairo Estrada put runners on first and second and left the tying run on deck with 2 outs. After 123 pitches, manager Bob Melvin had to make the call to remove Lugo from the game, leaving the final out for Josh Hader. With a chance to grab save number 32 on the year, he came into the game and threw just 6 pitches before striking out Wilmer Flores to finish things off. The save tied him with Mariners reliever Paul Sewald for the 8th most saves in baseball this season. While Hader would have been happy to see Lugo finish the job himself, it’s always nice to know that the team has an extremely reliable insurance option to come into the game and get things done when necessary. Hader’s ERA on the year is down to 1.18 and he is yet another key pending free agent that the Padres will have to monitor this offseason.
Soto comes through with big game to reach personal milestone
In a game that the Padres needed to win to avoid a series loss, Juan Soto made sure that he was on his a-game. Soto would set the tone for the day as he blasted a solo home run in the top of the first inning to give San Diego the early 1-0 lead.
The Padres would score just once more before the 7th inning, as Ha-Seong Kim would score Xander Bogaerts on a groundout in the third. Clinging to a 2-0 lead, Juan Soto stepped up once again in the 7th and blasted his second homer of the game.
It was Soto’s 35th home run of the year, which represents a new single-season career-high for the star hitter. The new milestone came as part of a monster 3-4 day in which he reached base 4 times and tallied 3 RBIs. Soto has been one of the most impactful players in the lineup all season long and made a major difference when the Padres needed him to deliver.
The Padres and Giants will battle it out once more in the rubber match of the series on Wednesday in what should be an intense game. With both squads just 1 game from being eliminated from playoff contention, they will be firing on all cylinders with hopes of grabbing a big victory.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. PT.