The Padres own the sport’s best record and one of its most potent offenses, but for 10 innings on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, the Astros, for the most part, kept them in check.
But give this lineup too many chances, and eventually you’ll pay for it. The Astros learned the hard way.
The Padres broke out with their highest-scoring inning of the season at just the right time — in the 11th inning of a 10-3 victory over the Astros. Ha-Seong Kim put the Padres on top with an opposite-field single, and the floodgates opened from there. San Diego would score seven times in the frame.
“We only had a few hits through nine,” said Padres right fielder Wil Myers. “It was great to see that this team really has the ability to explode.”
Quite the workingman’s rally, too. To plate those seven runs, the Padres used five singles, Myers’ double, a Fernando Tatis Jr. sacrifice fly and a pair of hustle plays in which Manny Machado and Jorge Mateo beat throws at first base — Machado’s on the back end of a potential double play, Mateo’s to force a Jose Altuve throwing error.
“Even in the 11th inning, the way these guys are hustling and playing — that’s the way it’s supposed to be done,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler.
San Diego trailed for most of the night, but Myers hauled in what might have been a Chas McCormick grand slam at the wall in the seventh, and Tatis Jr. tied the game half an inning later with a majestic solo home run, his team-leading 14th blast of the season.
Until then, the Padres had done everything within their power just to hang on. Dinelson Lamet pitched into the fourth for the first time this year, as he builds up slowly from the UCL strain that shut him down late last season. That’s an obvious sign of progress — even if Lamet surrendered a two-run homer to McCormick in that fourth inning.
That home run prompted Tingler to emerge from the dugout and ask his bullpen to cover the rest of the night — eight innings, as it would turn out, on the back of two 10-inning games in Milwaukee. It marked the first time since 1995 that the Padres have played three extra-inning games in three days.
With a beleaguered relief corps, Nabil Crismatt and the newly recalled Nick Ramirez were thrust into high-leverage roles and pitched two scoreless frames apiece. Austin Adams, Tim Hill and Emilio Pagán all pitched scoreless innings, and closer Mark Melancon allowed only the automatic runner to score in the 10th.
“They were terrific, and it was from some guys that … got thrown into some roles tonight that they hadn’t [been used in] yet,” Tingler said.
Same goes for the Padres’ offense. Webster Rivas, a 30-year-old journeyman catcher making his big league debut in Austin Nola’s absence, was excellent behind the plate, and he threw out Myles Straw attempting to steal second in the sixth.
The Padres were also forced to replace Eric Hosmer, who left the game in the second inning after being plunked in the right arm. X-rays came back negative, and Hosmer is day to day, but the Padres would end the game with an empty bench.
Turns out, they still had just enough for the biggest inning of the season.
“The way we compete, playing for each other, pulling for each other — that’s the way it is,” Tingler said. “Once we got into extra innings, it’s just a bunch of guys grinding it out, and it’s on all sides.
“It’s everybody giving everything that they’ve got right now. It’s nice when it works out, and you get to celebrate with a ‘W,’ because it’s a big group of men pulling together and it’s a blast to be a part of.”