What happened in the last two games is what seemed likely for so long — or in five days that felt like five weeks.
The Padres extended lineup finally did what it was designed to do. And did so in back-to-back games.
You can read about yesterday’s unique 13-7 win over the Giants in my game story (here).
Every player in the Padres lineup had at least one hit and scored at least one run.
They made big hits and timely hits. They got hits on hits on walks.
Austin Nola, who would later score the Padres’ final run after his two-run homer in the sixth, sparked the Padres’ six-run third inning with a 10-pitch walk.
“I was trying to do my job at the time, get on base leading off the inning,” Nola said. “The biggest thing here was just getting (pitcher Jakob Younis) to work, getting a good hit together because the guys behind me, those are the dudes.”
This is the real thing. The Padres have the dudes now.
Jurickson Profar and Juan Soto each had singles, Manny Machado doubled, Josh Bell walked, Brandon Drury and Jake Cronenworth singled. He was then struck out before Trent Grisham singled and Nola drove in a run on a fielder’s grounder.
“If we can just develop that mindset of just doing your job to get on base …,” Nola said.
In the sixth inning, the Padres scored seven runs on two outs. They got help from an error, but also got seven straight hits, including home runs by Drury and Nola.
Suddenly the clichés didn’t sound so silly. They made sense.
“That’s what we expect every (game),” Profar said. “Just put (together) good at-bats and good things will happen.”
Through five games, the Padres had fielded lineups that looked like they finally had that long-sought length.
Catchers who had a leadoff (Nola) and a cleanup (Jorge Alfaro) were ninth. Cronenworth, who had been second or third most of the season, was three to five places down. Will Myers hit eighth for the second time in his career. Soto batted second. (Juan Soto! Before Machado.) Bell, the cleanup hitter, was sitting on 14 home runs. Drury, the No. 5 hitter, had 21 home runs, more than any player who has been with the Padres all season.
It was far better than anything the Padres have done in decades. However, they lost all five of their games and went on their worst five-game stretch of the season offensively.
They almost certainly won’t routinely score six runs in one inning and seven in another in many games. But now, bigger innings is possible for the regulars.
In large part, that’s because the Padres don’t have to think about a bigger inning now.
“When you know you have a good lineup, you don’t have to worry about hitting the game-winning homer,” Soto said. “You can just pass the baton and let the other guys do their job — like we did yesterday, like we did today.”
What the Padres mostly meant when they said last week that it would take time for the lineup to “get happy” with the new additions was that everyone needs to figure out how to just let the lineup do what it’s meant to do created.
“When you see our best innings and our best games as an offense … it’s like every single guy that comes in that inning has a quality at-bat,” Cronenworth said. “Even if they get away, it will be difficult. It’s not easy for the pitcher. And you saw it in the third inning where there’s a base hit, a walk, a base hit, bases loaded, another base hit. And it keeps happening and you keep having the bases loaded and there’s no way out of it. (The pitcher) can’t walk the guy, can’t be too subtle. You’ll get a good punch for punch.
“I think with our lineup, knowing that and taking the pressure off yourself, knowing that the guy behind you is just as good a hitter as you are, I think it’s really good. The most important thing is that in this situation you get up there and the pressure drops because who else do we have in the lineup. You don’t have to feel pressure to hit that big hit or home run. Just go out there and execute your approach and plan and good things will happen.
This happened yesterday.
- The Padres’ four hits with the bases loaded in the third inning were the third most in franchise history. They had five in an inning on July 24, 2014 against the Cubs. They had six in one inning on August 23, 2002 against the Marlins.
- Yesterday was 28 for the Padresth comeback win, third most in the major leagues. But it was only 11th when they won a game in which they trailed after the fifth inning. It was just their second time coming back to win after trailing by more than three runs, and the first time they’ve come back twice in a game to win.
- Soto went 2-for-5 to extend his on-base streak to 16 games. He hit .357/.471/.607 in seven games (35 plate appearances) with the Padres.
- Machado was 3-for-5 with two doubles and batting .363 with a .990 OPS in the eight games (36 plate appearances) since Soto’s arrival. He hit .194 with a 677 OPS in the 29 games leading up to Soto’s arrival.
- Ha-Seong Kim doubled in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. His .299 batting average and .357 on-base percentage since June 28 lead the team (minimum 50 hits).
- Cronenworth recorded his eighth three-hit game of the season and first since July 11.
- Nola is hitting .292 with a .753 OPS over the past two months (36 games).
- You can read about Soto and Bell’s return to Washington in Jeff Sanders’ notebook (here). He also wrote about Brandon Drury hitting a home run that no one can take away from him and Nola catching a day game after a night game for the third time this season and second time in five days.
Capital makes sense
There was some uproar created last week when an anonymous baseball executive was quoted in an article by The Athletic’s Jason Stark as saying he wasn’t sure what the Padres’ business model was as a result of the trades for Soto, et al.
There has been some horror around baseball for several years now that Peter Seidler is a fraudulent owner who has upset the system somewhat by committing so much financially as a mid-market franchise.
The Padres sell more tickets and thus more concessions and parking passes. They are on pace to surpass 3 million fans for just the second time in Petco Park history. And it will take a lot of tickets and beers to pay off the roughly $70 million Soto will be owed over the next two seasons. And it would take exponentially more to sign him to a long-term contract.
But in recent days, some have said look no further than the $4.65 billion price Walmart heir Rob Walton paid for the Denver Broncos. The purchase, which was approved by NFL owners on Tuesday, was completed for nearly $1 billion more than the franchise’s latest valuation from Forbes.
The Padres, who were purchased in 2012 for $800 million, are valued at $1.6 billion by Forbes. This is not the same as their value. Teams almost always sell for much more than their ‘worth’.
Balancing the books on an annual basis is a legitimate challenge for MLB teams. That doesn’t mean they don’t have money to spend.
Okay, that’s it for me. Early flight this morning.
There’s no game today, so we’ll talk to you Saturday after the opener in Washington.