A Pleasant Surprise: Padres only 5.5 games back of first place
For all the injuries and tribulations this Padres team has faced this season, the Friars find themselves only 5.5 games back in the NL West. Arizona sits in first place at 31-27. The Colorado Rockies are in second at 30-29, 1.5 games back. The Giants and Dodgers share an identical 29-30 record and are 2.5 games back.
The weakness of the NL West comes as a surprise to many people (including myself) who came into the season thinking the NL West was one of the best divisions in baseball. Last season, the West produced three playoff teams, the D-Backs, Rockies and Dodgers and many people expected the Giants to bounce back after adding stars such as Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
In order for the Padres to stay close with the other teams in the division, they had to take care of business versus the struggling Cincinnati Reds. The series began on Friday night with Walker Lockett making his MLB debut. Lockett struggled going just 3 ⅔ innings giving up 4 runs on 4 hits and walking 5. Following his departure, the bullpen struggled and the Padres fell behind 7-0.
A Freddy Galvis two run triple in the 9th inning kept the Friars from getting shut out but that was it of the Padres offense as they were defeated 7-2.
On Saturday Eric Lauer threw one of his best starts of the season, going 5 innings and giving up just 1 run on 5 hits. Lauer was aided by a 4 run bottom of the second with the scored tied at 1. The Padres loaded up the bases with nobody out vs Reds starter Matt Harvey when Manny Margot doubled to score two and gives the Padres a 3-1 lead.
Eric Lauer helped his cause with a sac fly to make it 4-1 and Travis Jankowski’s RBI single extended the lead to 5-1. In the bottom of the 7th Eric Hosmer singled to bring home Jankowski and Matt Szczur added an RBI single to give San Diego an 8-1 lead. The Reds scored a run in the top of the 9th but the Padres held on for a comfortable 8-2 win.
On Sunday, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 5th and the Padres trailing 2-0, Hunter Renfroe was called upon to pinch hit. Renfroe proceed to smoke a hanging slider into the Western Metal Building to put the Padres on top 4-2. Raffy Lopez extended the Padres lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the 6th.
After Scooter Gennett homered in the top of the 8th cut the lead to 5-3, Cory Spangenberg hit his 4th home run of the season to gives the Padres their three run cushion back. Things got a little sticky in the 9th when the Reds brought the tying run to the plate but Kirby Yates shut the door giving the Padres the 6-3 victory and the series win.
The Padres will now face a tough test as the 35-24 Atlanta Braves come to Petco Park. Clayton Richard (3-6, 4.74 ERA) will get the start on Monday and Jordan Lyles (2-1, 3.65 ERA) will get the start on Tuesday.
The Padres have the 7th pick in Monday night's MLB draft. The team is expected to go with a high school pitcher. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has them taking Matt Liberatore, a left handed pitcher from Glendale, Arizona. Liberatore is the 4th overall prospect according to MLB.com and is the highest ranked high school prospect.