Entering play on Saturday morning, the struggling Padres found themselves needing a win to avoid dropping a three-game series to the recently emergent Reds. Cincinnati, who has recently exploded into second place in their division, looked to stay hot and avoid a potential rubber match on Sunday. However, it was the Padres whose bats came alive and propelled them forward. San Diego was able to put up 12 runs on the day, primarily thanks to their 3 arguably best players. Fernando Tatis Jr. used a double, single, and sacrifice fly to tally 3 RBIs, while Juan Soto and Manny Machado each hit home runs in the top of the sixth inning on their way to 4 and 3 RBI days respectively. On the mound San Diego received a solid start from Michael Wacha, who went 5 strong innings allowing only 1 run on 4 strikeouts. The rest of the bullpen was able to get to the finish line allowing only 3 more runs and securing a much-needed Padre victory.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
Big 3 comes through with the bats
In a San Diego lineup which has been constructed to ooze all-star talent and superstar ability, it is expected that their bats should be putting up large numbers every game. On Saturday, this was especially true. Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Manny Machado, who are worth a combined $713 million, put their power on display. The star-studded trio tallied 5/10 total hits for the team as well as 10/12 RBI’s. They used a collection of home runs and base hits in order to provide enough offense for their pitching staff to hold things down on defense. San Diego can only hope that the trio will continue to have games like this as they look to flip their momentum and climb out of fourth place in the NL West. The team is designed to put up big offensive numbers, and players such as Soto, Tatis Jr., Machado, and Xander Bogaerts will be expected to carry the load going forward if the Padres want to make some noise and play more October baseball.
Padres shut down De La Cruz
One man who has made himself known in the baseball world over the past couple of weeks is Reds rookie phenom Ellie De La Cruz. He has stormed onto the scene for Cincinnati, providing ridiculous power and electric speed on the basepaths. He recently led the charge in a double-digit win streak for the Reds that revived their season and left them in second place in the NL Central. They now sit tied for first, and De La Cruz has played a huge roll on the team since his call-up. Nonetheless, the Padres knew the importance of limiting someone like De La Cruz and making sure they do not give him an opportunity to reach the base paths. The pitching staff was able to get him to go 0-4 on the day and render him ineffective for Cincy. He’s been responsible for a large portion of their offense, so making sure to limit his production will be key for the Padres on Sunday if they look to take the series.
Wacha shoves, continues to stand out
Among a pitching rotation that consists of proven talents such as Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, Michael Wacha has consistently proven that he is capable of holding his own. Wacha, a 32-year-old righty from Iowa, went 5 impressive innings at Great American Ballpark on Saturday. He kept the home crowd silent by throwing 5 innings of 1-run baseball on 87 pitches.
Wacha, who brought his ERA to 2.84 on the season, holds a better ERA than both Darvish (4.84) and Snell (3.21). San Diego has certainly been pleasantly surprised by his impressive season thus far and will hope that they can keep leaning on him to deliver solid starts as the team enters crunch time in the later months of the season. With each day that goes by, the fourth-place Padres give themselves less and less breathing room. The good news: July has just begun, there are still 3 months of regular season baseball left, and the team has the talent to turn the ship around.
The Friars will play the rubber match against Cincinnati on Sunday morning as they look to take a big series against a hot team and gather some much-needed momentum.
First pitch is scheduled for 10:40 PST.