Struggling Padres lose twice to Royals

Having lost their past three series, the San Diego Padres (20-24) dropped two of three games to the last-place Kansas City Royals (14-31) at Petco Park.

SAN DIEGO – On the heels of being swept at Dodger Stadium, the Padres entered a series with the Kansas City Royals looking to put a halt to their recent losing ways. Having lost five consecutive games, Michael Wacha played stopper on Monday evening for San Diego.

In Game 1 against the Royals, Wacha tossed a gem, going into the eighth frame before allowing his first (and only) hit. In the strikeout department, Wacha was also fabulous; He fanned 11 Kansas City hitters through seven innings pitched, earning his fourth win of the 2023 season.

For the Padres offense, they were finally able to score more than three runs in a game–that is something they had not done in their previous five contests (all losses for San Diego). The Friars plated a run immediately when Fernando Tatis Jr. scored on a wild pitch from Brad Keller to Xander Bogaerts. San Diego nearly got another run in that same fashion after a second wild pitch from Keller put Juan Soto on third base, but Matt Carpenter grounded out to end the first inning: 1-0 Padres.

The Padres got right back to scoring in the second frame. After the inning started with back-to-back walks issued to Trent Grisham and Austin Nola, Tatis singled to right field which brought in Grisham to take a 2-0 lead. Following “El Nino,” Jake Cronenworth drew a walk to load the bases. Next, Manny Machado took one for the team by wearing a pitch on his arm; That brought in Nola to make it 3-0 San Diego.

Game 1 against the Royals featured only one more scoring play for either side. Bogaerts and Carpenter both reached base to lead off the seventh inning before Ha-Seong Kim singled in the former. At 4-0, Wacha had more than enough support. As mentioned, Wacha did not allow a hit until the first batter of the eighth inning (which was a single to Michael Massey). Kansas City collected one more hit over the remainder of the game before going final (4-0), snapping the Padres’ five-game losing streak.

Game 1 line (Mon. May 15) – Padres 4 (five hits, no errors), Royals 0 (two hits, one error). W: Michael Wacha (4-1). L: Brad Keller (3-4).

On Tuesday night, San Diego was not operating with stellar starting pitching like they were on Monday. Seth Lugo lasted only two innings for the Friars, giving up four hits – including a costly two-RBI double to Salvador Perez –  and five earned runs in the process. Naturally, catcher Brett Sullivan’s passed ball in the middle of the top half certainly did not help Lugo’s cause. Lugo would not come back out for the third frame.

San Diego’s offense would get them back in the game, but not until it was too late. Cronenworth and Carpenter each provided extra base hits for RBIs in the later frames. Carpenter was then brought in to score after Kim’s sac fly to center field; That brought the score to 5-4 Royals headed to the seventh.

The Padres had a considerable threat in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a costly baserunning mistake from Rougned Odor thwarted the effort with Bogaerts on third base. In the ninth, San Diego was retired in order by K.C. closer Scott Barlow: 5-4 (F), Royals win.

Game 2 line (Tue. May 16) – Royals 5 (eight hits, two errors), Padres 4 (eight hits, no errors). W: Brady Singer (3-4). L: Seth Lugo (3-3). S: Scott Barlow (5).

Wednesday’s afternoon special (1:10 p.m. first pitch) between the Royals and Padres served as another rubber match for San Diego. Coming into this matchup having lost three consecutive series, Yu Darvish was looking to get the Friars back on a winning track. The 36 year-old right hander began strong, putting up three scoreless frames to start-off. Unfortunately for San Diego, the Padres would go scoreless through that span, themselves.

In the fourth inning, Kansas City managed to create a rally after Bobby Witt Jr. reached base on a leadoff infield single. Darvish retired the next two hitters in-a-row, but M.J. Melendez doubled to left to bring in Witt Jr. for the first run of the game: 1-0 Royals. Darvish escaped the inning after the next hitter with no further damage.

San Diego did well to tie things up in the fifth frame–Jake Cronenworth blasted an inside fastball for a solo home run down the right field line, which would wind up being San Diego’s only homer of the entire series. With the score 1-1, the Padres were unable to get anything else going in the inning. Additionally, Darvish would not come back out to begin the sixth, closing the book on him at 5.1 innings pitched, four earned runs (six hits with one home run), six strikeouts and two walks.

The ballgame would not remain tied very long. With Tim Hill now on the bump for S.D., Witt Jr. started the sixth frame with a walk before Vinnie Pasquantino smashed a home run of his own. With the score now 3-1 Kansas City, the Royals were not done there. Melendez and Makiel Garcia strung together consecutive doubles to make it 4-1–eventually, Hill made it out of the sixth with the score there.

The Friars were able to respond to K.C. in the bottom half of the inning. Matt Carpenter led off the side by drawing a walk, then Ha-Seong Kim slashed a single into left field. Rougned Odor followed Kim with an infield single, loading the bases for Trent Grisham. During Grisham’s at-bat, a balk was called on Royals third reliever of the game, Jose Cuas; The balk allowed Carpenter to score from third base, cutting the lead in half: 4-2 Royals.

With runners still on, Grisham and Brett Sullivan both struck out. Next, Xander Bogaerts provided a little magic after he reached on an infield single to second base, bringing Kim in to score: 4-3 Kansas City, now. After Tatis Jr. popped out two hitters later, the inning was over but the competitive fire inside Petco Park was relit–after all, it was a one-run ballgame headed into the final frames.

San Diego created another fantastic opportunity to score on the other side of the seventh inning stretch when they loaded the bases with only one out. Still, the Padres floundered after a strikeout and a fielder’s choice, leaving all three runners aboard.

Sadly, the Friars offense had nothing else to offer on Wednesday despite the bullpen holding the one-run deficit. From there, the Padres essentially went down in-order through the eighth and ninth innings–Scott Barlow came out to earn the save for the second consecutive game. Royals win: 4-3 (F).

… And in comes the loudest bellows of boos I’ve ever heard from Petco Park; This San Diego crowd has certainly begun to notice the team’s recent woes. But at only 44 games into the season, there is still plenty of time to right the ship.

Worth mentioning: San Diego left 12 runners on-base in Wednesday’s game.

Game 3 line (Wed. May 17) – Royals 4 (nine hits, no errors), Padres 3 (eight hits, no errors). W: Josh Taylor (1-1). L: Yu Darvish (2-3). S: Scott Barlow (6).

That marks the ninth loss for San Diego in the last 11 games. Additionally, the Padres have now dropped four straight series.

At the moment, neither the bats nor the bullpen have been dependable for the Friars. We are about a quarter of the way through the 2023 campaign, and San Diego is underperforming at 20-24 overall.

Padres’ record against Kansas City
2023: 1-2
2022: 2-1
2017: 1-2
All-time: 12-9

After a night off on Thursday, the Padres will next host the Boston Red Sox (24-20) on Friday, May 19 at 6:40 p.m. PT. The probable pitchers are James Paxton (0-0) and Blake Snell (1-5).