If the Padres reach the playoffs in October, they’re going to look back on June 17 as a turning point.
Because it was.
“It felt like more than a win, to be honest,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after the Padres scored four times in the bottom of the ninth — on two-run homers by Eric Hosmer (to tie) and Victor Caratini (for the win) — to defeat the Reds 6-4.
Tingler then used the word “magical” to describe what happened before the first capacity house at Petco Park in more than two years.
He could have used the word miraculous. Because just 71 games into the season, the Padres appeared to be on the ropes — or at least at a crossroads.
Padres fans were dreaming of making the playoffs even before spring training. And a 16-3 run in late May boosted the Padres to the best record in the major leagues. Then came the collapse.
The Padres lost four straight games once, twice and almost a third time. They went 3-14 over a 17-game run that saw the offense struggle at the Mendoza line. They were coming off a 1-5 road trip Thursday to open a 10-game homestand that would take them almost to the midpoint of the season. And they were confident going into the ninth with a 2-0 lead and 19-save closer Mark Melancon heading to the mound.
Then the Reds scored four times. It appeared the Padres had found rock bottom. Then the Padres won. The bats came alive just when it seemed the Reds would win a seventh straight game and move past San Diego into the sixth-best record slot in the National League.
“This is one of those wins that can change a lot of things,” Tingler said.
And a tough loss for the Reds.
“Real tough,” Reds manager David Bell said.
Now comes the second game of a four-game series Friday. Can the Padres build some momentum? Can the Reds regain the mojo of what had been a 13-3 run?
Friday’s matchup of right-handers could hold a clue. The Reds will lead with rookie Tony Santillan (0-0, 1.93 ERA after one major league start). The Padres will counter with Chris Paddack (3-5, 4.14 ERA), who seems to have regained his edge.
The 24-year-old Santillan was the Reds’ second-round pick in 2015. He had a 2.51 ERA at Triple-A Louisville with 45 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings when he got the call from the Reds when Sonny Gray went on the injured list. In his major ;eague debut, Santillan held Colorado to a run on five hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings in Cincinnati’s 6-2 win.
“What was so fun to see and impressive from Tony was the look in the eye that he came in with,” Bell said. “He was not backing down and yeah, it wasn’t easy, but it was very impressive.”
“I mean, obviously it wasn’t a pretty pitching line,” Santillan said. “But I battled and got out of some very key jams in that game and kept the team in the ballgame. At the end of the day, I will take the positive out of that and build off of that and get ‘er going.”
Round two comes against the Padres Friday night.
Paddack, meanwhile, has a 3.31 ERA in his past seven starts after finishing the first month of the season with a 1-3 record, a 5.40 ERA and no start longer than 5 1/3 innings. Now he has gone at least six innings in four of his past five starts.
–Field Level Media