San Diego fumbles series with Twins ahead of trip to Dodger Stadium

The San Diego Padres (19-19) fell back to .500 and spoiled their second consecutive series after losing two-of-three contests to Minnesota.

In what started as a positive series for San Diego wound up being not so. Despite playing and hitting well on Tuesday night, the Padres’ bats did not have much to offer for the remaining two games against the AL Central-leading Twins. As they leave Minnesota with a sour taste in their mouths, the Friars fall back to 19-19.

Game 1 at Target Field saw the Padres’ offense awaken after a three-game slumber against the Dodgers. It took until the fourth inning, but San Diego drew first blood in the “Twin Cities” after Matt Carpenter slapped a single the opposite way into left field–one that brought in Juan Soto to score. Speaking of Soto, the Padre left fielder went 4-4 on Tuesday, collecting four hits in a game for the first time since joining San Diego.

Overall, starting pitcher Michael Wacha was effective against a talented Twins lineup. After Wacha got his first run of support in the fourth, he also allowed one across in the bottom half. Self-inflicted, Wacha walked two hitters consecutively before surrendering a double to Jose Miranda (that brought in Byron Buxton from second base). Ultimately, Wacha’s final line in the winning effort was six innings pitched, one earned run, four strikeouts and three walks.

The contest would remain tied at one until the seventh frame. With Griffin Jax now on the hill for Minnesota, the first two hitters reached via error and walk. Ha-Seong Kim – the lead runner on second base – took the liberty of swiping third from there, earning his club-best sixth stolen bag of the season. Next, Austin Nola sacrificed to the pitcher, bringing in Kim to score and breaking the tie: 2-1 Padres.

San Diego scored another run in the seventh after Fernando Tatis Jr. started wreaking havoc on the basepaths. After drawing a walk and two separate throwing errors (by stealing bases) from Twins catcher Christian Vazquez, Tatis Jr. crossed home plate in a blur to make it 3-1.

On the other side of the seventh inning stretch, Minnesota had little-to-no success with the bats. Still, that did not stop the Padres from adding a few more insurance runs in the top half of the final frame. With two outs and two aboard, Manny Machado launched a first-pitch slider from Jorge Alcala nearly into the Mississippi River. The home run (Machado’s fifth of 2023: tied with Soto for second-most on the team) was measured at 405 feet, and gave San Diego a 6-1 lead that would hold to go final.

Tatis Jr. went without a hit on Tuesday, but he has hit safely in 16 of 20 games (heading into Wednesday) since returning to the Majors.

Game 1 line (Tue. May 9) – Padres 6 (nine hits, no errors), Twins 1 (six hits, three errors). W: Michael Wacha (3-1). L: Griffin Jax (1-4).

The second game between San Diego and Minnesota resulted in a stalemate for majority of the evening, but the Twins used extra frames to walk off on the Friars–they are now 0-4 in extra inning contests this season.

Starting pitcher Seth Lugo gave up a bases-empty home run to Max Kepler in the opening frame, but only allowed one additional run through six innings pitched with five strikeouts. Carlos Correa logged an RBI double off Lugo in the third to make it 2-0, Twins.

Minnesota had a chance to score more after Correa’s third inning double, but when another hit from the Twins rolled out to Fernando Tatis Jr. in right field, the shortstop-turned-outfielder delivered a perfect strike to Brett Sullivan at home plate to nail a sliding-Correa. Apparently, the laser-throw from Tatis Jr. to home was clocked at 100 mph–which is the fastest for any outfield assist this year.

The Padres did not get on the board until the top of the seventh when Juan Soto blasted his sixth homer of the season–a 417-foot gargantuan shot to center field. For Soto, that tied him with Xander Bogaerts (6) for the team lead in home runs. After seven full frames, it was 2-1: Twins. In the eighth, San Diego added one more to tie after Manny Machado’s clutch sacrifice fly to right field brought in Trent Grisham: 2-2.

Tied at two, the score would stay knotted up after nine regulation innings. In the top of the 10th, the Padres manufactured the incumbent run when Austin Nola’s finely executed sacrifice-bunt to third base allowed Rougned Odor to cross home plate: 3-2 San Diego. Unfortunately, that would be all for the Friars on offense for the remainder of the game.

In the bottom half of the tenth inning, the host Twins evened the score almost immediately as Donovan Solano singled, bringing in Willi Castro: Tied 3-3. One inning later (after nothing from San Diego in the top half), Minnesota rallied again. With runners on first and second, Alex Kirilloff pulled a pitch from Domingo Tapia just past the reach of first baseman Jake Cronenworth, rolling the baseball down the right field line for a walk off hit: 4-3 Twins (F/11).

Tapia was the sixth pitcher used on Tuesday night. After Lugo’s start, we then saw Brett Honeywell, Tim Hill, Luis Garcia and Josh Hader. As aforementioned, the Padres are still winless in extra inning contests this year.

Game 2 line (Wed. May 10) – Twins 4 (nine hits, one error), Padres 3 (four hits, no errors). W: Griffin Jax (2-4). L: Domingo Tapia (0-1).

With the Padres in their third consecutive rubber match (also vs. Reds, Dodgers), the two sides took the field for a day game in Minneapolis. San Diego wasted no time getting out the Sombrero–Fernando Tatis Jr. whacked the first pitch of the game from Bailey Ober over the left field fence: 1-0 Friars. A few hitters later, Juan Soto was able to stretch a double with two outs, but San Diego stranded him at second.

Unlike his past two starts, Yu Darvish managed to produce a scoreless first frame. He cruised 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first, capping the inning with a highlight K of Carlos Correa. After surrendering a couple hits and a HBP, Darvish ran into trouble in the second inning. With bases loaded and one out, Darvish walked Joey Gallo to tie the game at one run each. Still, the 36-year-old pitcher from Japan buckled down and snapped off back-to-back strikeouts, getting Byron Buxton on an 0-2 sweeper to end the threat.

To leadoff the fourth, Manny Machado and Soto strung together consecutive doubles to break the 1-1 tie, the latter of which collected another RBI (19, which leads San Diego). From there, the 6’9 Ober did well to retire the next three Padre hitters in order.

San Diego did not stay ahead for long, though. In the bottom of the fourth, Kyle Farmer crushed a solo shot off Darvish to tie the game at two. To make matters worse for the Padres, Farmer’s blast came with two outs in the frame. Darvish eventually escaped with no further damage; After four innings, the game was knotted-up 2-2.

Moments later, the Padres snatched the lead right back. To leadoff the fifth, Rougned Odor (starting at second base for the second straight game) viciously turned on a pitch from Ober that narrowly cleared the right field fountains. That solo home run gave San Diego their third run of the day, and also served as Odor’s first long ball in a Padres uniform. The Friars may have been able to score more in the fifth frame if not for a fabulous diving grab in center field from Minnesota’s Nick Gordon (off the bat of Machado) to end the top half: 3-2 San Diego.

Eventually, Darvish would not come out to pitch the bottom of the seventh inning, closing the book on him at six innings pitched, two earned runs and seven punchouts. Unfortunately for San Diego, the wheels partially fell off after Darvish’s exit.

In relief, Brent Honeywell was the next pitcher for the Padres in the seventh. After allowing hit, walk and hitting batter, Honeywell loaded the bases with only one out. From there, Max Kepler grounded into a fielder’s choice RBI situation–giving Minnesota a 4-3 lead.

Skipper Bob Melvin pulled Honeywell there, electing instead to go with Steven Wilson. With Carlos Correa now hitting, Wilson gave up an RBI double on the second pitch of the at-bat: Make that 5-3 Twins. The seventh inning ended shortly after with no further damage.

San Diego was unable to muster any further threat on Thursday afternoon, going down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning. The Padres felt in control most of the game and were on the verge of taking the series in Minnesota. Still, after a bullpen collapse in the seventh, the Twins steal the rubber match, 5-3.

Game 3 line (Thu. May 11) – Twins 5 (six hits, no errors), Padres 3 (six hits, no errors). W: Emilio Pagan (3-0). L: Brent Honeywell (2-2). S: Jorge Lopez (3).

Of course, “there is no rest for the wicked.” Leaving the Twin Cities after dropping the last two games, the Padres (19-19) will head back to Southern California for their second clash of the 2023 season against the Los Angeles Dodgers (23-15).

With the series shifting to Los Angeles’ Chavez Ravine, Friday night’s (7:10 p.m. PST first pitch) probable pitchers are Blake Snell (1-5) and Dustin May (4-1).

Padres’ record against Minnesota
2023: 1-2
2022: 2-1
2017: 1-3
All-time: 8-18