After a tough loss on Saturday night in extra innings, Michael Wacha took the mound looking to help the Padres get back on track and take the rubber match. He would end up delivering his second solid start in a row as he had the St. Louis lineup looking quiet for most of the day. Wacha’s strong start allowed San Diego to explode and get out to a huge lead, as the team found themselves up 12-0 after just 6 innings. The 12 runs would be more than enough to hold the lead as the Padres eventually finished off a 12-2 win and took their 4th consecutive series. It was a great day and a solid way to finish off the final home game of the year in 2023.
Here are three takeaways from the win:
Wacha delivers nice start, grabs 13th win
Michael Wacha came into Sunday’s game against the Cardinals looking to grab his second consecutive win after a solid start against the Rockies his last time out. He took advantage of a struggling Cardinals team that is 10-12 in September so far and kept them off the board for the majority of his start. Wacha would allow just 2 ER through 7 innings of work while striking out 6 and walking just 1. St. Louis managed 6 hits off of him but was unable to make anything of it. Their only runs on the day came with a 2-run home run from Luken Baker in the top of the 7th inning. It was the 13th win on the season for Wacha, bringing him to 13-4. He sits just one win behind Blake Snell for the most on the team and should get one more start to try and tie him before the season comes to an end. Wacha’s ERA on the year now stands at 3.39, and he has been one of the big bright spots on the pitching staff this year for San Diego.
Juan Soto lifts the offense, Fernando Tatis Jr. shines on defense
It was clear from the beginning that Sunday’s game was going to be an eventful one for the Padres. Juan Soto, who had a big day, got the party started for San Diego. He blasted a 3-run homer that went a whopping 461 feet.
The home run came as part of a 3-5 day for Soto in which he recorded 4 RBI and scored twice. He did a nice job leading the charge as San Diego made sure they would not even have to think about another extra-innings game. So far, he has made a complete turnaround in the month of September. After hitting a disappointing .219 in August, Soto has bounced back to hit .329 so far this month including 8 home runs and 25 RBI. On the defensive side of things, the flashiest play of the day came from Fernando Tatis Jr. in right field. He was able to rob a home run from Michael Siani in the top of the sixth inning to keep the Cardinals off the board and make the crowd erupt.
The impressive display of defense was certainly appreciated by Michael Wacha, who ended up delivering a quality start. Tatis Jr. finished the day 2-4 with an RBI of his own on a single in the fourth, proving his ability to get things done on both sides of the ball. It will be hard for opponents to see success against San Diego going forward if Soto and Tatis Jr. can keep making big impacts in the same game.
Espada pitches well in first big-league appearance
The story of Jose Espada and his journey to the pro level has been quite remarkable. Before this season began, Espada had never pitched above single-A. He was finally promoted to double-A in 2023 and held a 2.81 ERA in 26 appearances. The odds of him making a trip to the big leagues this year were quite low, but he finally got his shot after Nick Hernandez was optioned to triple-A and Tim Hill was moved to the 60-day injured list.
Espada made his debut in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game and pitched a scoreless frame while striking out 2 and getting the Padres to the finish line. It is certainly a day that Espada will never forget, as he finally cracked the MLB level after 8 long years in the minor leagues. Perhaps he will be able to remain with the club for a while longer, as the postseason is most likely not in the cards for San Diego despite the fact that they remain alive in the NL Wild Card race. No matter what happens, Espada’s story is one of true determination and he will be overjoyed to see his hard work finally pay off.
The Padres will now head to San Francisco to battle the division rival the Giants for 3 games, with Blake Snell scheduled to take the bump tomorrow in the series opener.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. PT.