The Padres finished things up with game 162/162 on Sunday afternoon as they looked to sweep the White Sox and finish the season above .500. Pedro Avila got his 6th start of the year and did a great job to keep Chicago off the board early. Meanwhile, White Sox starter Jose Urena was also able to pitch effectively and keep San Diego off the board. Both bullpens followed suit as neither team was able to break the ice through the first 9 innings of the game. It took 11 innings for the Padres to sneak by with a 2-1 win and finish 2023 with a final record of 82-80.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Pedro Avila delivers excellent final start
In 14 total appearances and 6 starts this year, Pedro Avila performed very nicely for the Padres. As he made his final start on Sunday, he looked extremely sharp and made quick work of the White Sox lineup. Avila would pitch the first 5 innings of the game while allowing just 3 hits and 0 runs. His command was excellent, as he struck out 7 batters and did not walk anyone. The 26-year-old finished his season with a 2-2 record and an ERA of 3.22 in his limited appearances. Before the 2023 season, he had 4 total games with the Padres since 2019 and had only registered 2 starts. The team finally decided to increase his workload this year and Avila did a great job making the most of his opportunity. With a solid season now in the books, perhaps San Diego will lean on him even more next season, whether it comes out of the bullpen or in a bigger role as a starting pitcher.
Profar brings home the go-ahead run in the 11th
In a game that saw zero movement on the scoreboard through the first 9 innings, the Padres were forced to head into extra innings. Extra innings have been nothing short of a nightmare for the team this season, as their extra-innings record heading into Sunday stood at a horrendous 1-12. Despite the nasty-looking stat, the team was able to break through in the 11th to secure their 2nd extra-innings victory in a row and finish with a 2-12 record in the situation. This was widely thanks to Jurickson Profar, who had the big hit in the 11th to push the Padres back on top.
Profar’s clutch single came as part of a 2-5 day in which any offensive action was hard to come by. San Diego finished the season with a 20-7 record since they added Profar back into the organization. He will be slated to hit free agency this winter, and Padre fans across the league will be hopeful that the team makes a move to resign him and have him back for 2024. While his performance on the field has been nice, Profar’s energy and effort have made the biggest difference and seemingly brought a newfound energy to the clubhouse.
Padre bullpen dominates behind Avila
With starter Pedro Avila out of the game after 5 innings, the San Diego bullpen ended up having to work 6 long innings in the team’s winning effort. The first one out of the bullpen was Ray Kerr, who worked a scoreless 6th inning and struck out the side. Next up would be Scott Barlow, who finished off his season on a solid note with a scoreless inning of his own. The 8th inning would belong to Tom Cosgrove, who also pitched a scoreless frame and ended up finishing the season with an elite 1.75 ERA through 51.1 IP. In a 0-0 game, Josh Hader pitched the ninth to make sure that the White Sox would not have a walk-off chance. Hader was one of the most dominant bullpen pieces all year long for the Padres, as he finished with 33 total saves and an ERA of 1.28. He will be one of the biggest pieces on the roster to hit free agency this winter. As extra innings rolled around, it was Rich Hill who made his first appearance since September 24th against the Cardinals. Hill would allow the free runner to score for the White Sox in the bottom of the 10th to tie the game at 1 but stood his ground in the 11th to pitch a scoreless inning and send the Padres off with a 2-1 win. The 43-year-old lefty finished his year with an 8-14 record to go along with a 5.41 ERA. As a whole, the bullpen did an impressive job through the final 6 innings of the game. They did not allow an earned run to score and struck out 9 batters in the process. In a game that did not see very much offense at all, their clutch performance was a big part of the season finale victory.
The Padres season officially concluded with a record of 82-80 as they failed to qualify for postseason contention in disappointing fashion. With a big winter ahead, the team will look to rebound and prove that their extremely talented roster has what it takes to get back to the playoffs and show the baseball world what they are all about. In the meantime, the MLB postseason will begin on Tuesday, October 3 with the Wild Card round getting underway.
Next game for the Padres? An overseas battle in South Korea against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 20th to open up the 2024 MLB season.