Padres Daily: Reasons for the season; sinking in the standings; hometown kid makes ‘opening day’ start – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Good morning,

We took a break yesterday morning from diving into how poorly the Padres are playing.

They just couldn’t give us a second straight day.

Yesterday afternoon’s 8-7 loss to the Rockies could in some ways be attributed to the vagaries of Coors Field — if not for the fact the Padres just keep finding ways to lose. Read about yesterday’s path to defeat in my game story (here).

Rockies starter Kyle Freeland had allowed runs in eight of the 10 innings he had pitched in his previous two starts. The Padres went two innings without scoring yesterday before running Freeland from the game in the fourth having scored five runs off the left-hander.

They would get two more hits and score one more run. Put another way, they got one hit in the final five innings. In baseball’s most generous ballpark. Against one of the major leagues’ most generous bullpens.

In the end, it was one of their relievers getting beat in large part because he gave 180 feet to Trevor Story. Austin Adams walked Story and then allowed him to steal second by being too slow to the plate to give catcher Victor Caratini a chance. Charlie Blackmon’s single won the game.

The Padres didn’t play anywhere close to perfect when they were winning 16 of 19 in May. But they did a lot of things right, got a little lucky and maybe caught teams by surprise with how aggressive they were.

The Padres are now in the kind of funk where it seems their mistakes compound.

“Sometimes a lot of the things are tough to cover up when you’re not playing well,” Jayce Tingler said. “When you’re not scoring runs, a lot of things can be isolated as really big. When we’re doing those little things and we’re scoring runs, that’s obviously the best version of our team. Right now, some of those blemishes we’re just not able to cover up.”

A number of things have conspired to lead to the Padres losing 13 of their past 17.

I came up with six pretty much off the top of my head.

  1. They are hitting .209 in the 17 games. And that number actually rose seven points with their 11 hits yesterday. They are hitting .182 with runners in scoring position in that stretch.
  2. Just six times in 17 games have the Padres scored more than one run while their starting pitcher has been in the game.
  3. The bullpen has a 4.21 ERA over the past 14 games. This is still the majors’ second-best bullpen in terms of ERA, but the relievers been used a lot and appear to have hit a lull.
  4. Things that were a significant part of them winning so much in May now contributing to them losing. Just in the past three days: Tommy Pham advancing on a fly ball to center field but having his hand come off the bag for an instant and being called out on replay; Ryan Weathers bunting with a runner at second and no outs; Pham trying to steal with one out and Fernando Tatis Jr. on deck. Manufacturing runs could have its limits.
  5. Manny Machado. He might be heating up. Finally. He was 2-for-4 with a walk yesterday and is 10-for-33 (.303) with two doubles and two homers in his past nine games. The .870 OPS in those nine games makes it his best such stretch this season, which is at least 150 points shy of what his best nine-game stretch should be by this point in the season.
  6. Blake Snell. He allowed seven runs in three innings on May 30, 17 games ago. He allowed seven runs in four innings yesterday. In between, he made two starts against the Mets, shutting them out over seven innings and allowing them three runs in four innings. The pitcher acquired to help secure the Padres’ spot as a championship contender is so far working counter to that aim.

We shouldn’t entirely overlook a brutal schedule that has had the Padres with the most games in the majors most of the season. They have played stretches of 17 and 20 games without a day off and are not quite halfway through a stretch of 13 straight.

The 10-game Milwaukee-Houston-Chicago trip was like a punishment for a past-life transgression. The Padres went to the Midwest to Texas and then back to the Midwest, played two straight five-hour games and two straight day games in two separate cities.

They’ve had injuries and illness to key players, to the point they have run out their projected primary lineup twice in 70 games.

But, in short, oh well.

They are supposedly good enough to be able to overcome a few setbacks and challenges.

“We can talk about being banged up,” Tingler said. “I can tell you all the other teams right now are in the same boat. We’ve done some travel. We’ve played a lot of games. We’ve played a lot of innings. We’ve gone from different coasts. We’ve played some teams that are really good and we’ve played some teams that have been hot. At the end of the day, we’re just not playing the way we’re capable of right now. We feel when we’re doing that, we’re able to match up with anyone.”

Time to get it together

It is June 17. The Padres are 38-32.

This still should be viewed with a degree of perspective. As I wrote earlier this week, all but one World Series champion over a 20-year span went through at least one extended period of losing far more than they won.

Heck, you must remember when the Dodgers lost 15 of 20 earlier this season.

But …

The first game of the Padres’ next road trip — 11 games from now — will be the midway point of the season.

“I think definitely there’s a sense of urgency,” Tingler said. “We’ve had a sense of urgency. We have to start playing better. We have to tighten up some of the things in all facets of the game. We’ve got to come together and play better because there is a sense of urgency. We’ve talked about our division being extremely tough. We’ve talked about the quality of the teams in the National League. You want to stay in the fight. You don’t’ want to dig too big of a hole where when you get it back and going, you’re too far behind. We have to stay in the fight, and we have to continue to throw punches.”

In 2½ weeks, the Padres have fallen from having the best record in MLB to the having the sixth-best record in the National League.

Should they lose to the Reds in today’s opener of a four-gamer series, the teams would flipflop in the standings.

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  • The Padres had 11 hits yesterday, just their second time in double digits since May 30. They are now 13-2 this season in games in which they have 10 or more hits.
  • Jake Cronenworth hit his second home run of the season coming off the bench. In his career, he is 5-for-11 with two homers and two doubles when entering the game as a substitute.
  • Ha-seong Kim started at second base and went 1-for-2. He is 6-for-18 (.333) in nine games since June 2.
  • Trent Grisham was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly. Two of his three hits (in 16 at-bats) since returning from the injured list have been home runs.
  • Since allowing eight runs over nine innings in a six-game stretch from May 25 to June 6, Craig Stammen has thrown three perfect innings.

  • Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 21st home run of the season was the longest of his career. Yes, it was aided by the mile-high air. But 477 feet is still an impressive distance. It was the second-longest homer at Coors Field this season, one foot shorter than one hit by Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon on May 15.

Welcome home

I wrote in my game story that it is a little deflating that the long-awaited first game in a full Petco Park in two seasons comes now that the team is struggling.

That doesn’t mean it’s not still a big deal.

“I’m so happy,” Jurickson Profar said. “Last year we had a great run, and the fans they couldn’t be there. I expect every night to be full. I promise. We will be putting on a show for you guys. I promise.”

It’s a nice coincidence that Joe Musgrove, the native San Diegan who threw the Padres’ first no-hitter in April, will be on the mound for what the team is calling San Diego’s Opening Night.

“It doesn’t necessarily feel like an opening day start after I’ve pitched a dozen games or whatever,” he said yesterday. “But it’s really cool … I expect (Petco Park) to be filled to the brim with people. It will be exciting. There will be a lot of adrenaline, emotion. That’s stuff I’m trying to be aware of and prepare myself for it.”

Musgrove was the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day starter last season.

“It was in a stadium with no people,” he said. “So it’s cool to get that honor to get to go home and get the start.”

All right, that’s it for me. And that’s it for the newsletter for a couple days.

I’m taking time to visit family. Talk to you Sunday.