The Padres led the majors with 50 stolen bases, 15 more than any other team, entering play Tuesday.
They also were taking extra bases on singles more than any other team, advancing on bunts and fly balls and groundouts, creating runs with their feet even in the periods they were not producing much with their bats.
Manager Jayce Tingler talks frequently about wanting his team to be able to score every which way. It is possible nothing excites him more than a hustling, heads-up play on the base paths.
“I think it’s a difference maker for us offensively, and we’re able to do some things besides slug,” he said recently. “It’s a part of who we are, and I love the way guys are running the bases.”
Nothing the Padres had done this season was quite as daring as the double steal they perpetrated in the third inning Tuesday, which ended with Victor Caratini becoming the first catcher in team history to steal home.
It began a night of run manufacturing by the team with the best record in baseball.
Against Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes, who had walked two batters all season, the Padres walked three times and all three of those runners scored en route to a 7-1 victory at American Family Field. (box score.)
Caratini, not nearly the fleetest of men, was standing on third base with two outs in the third when Ha-seong Kim took off for second. As soon as catcher Omar Narvaez popped up to throw to try to get Kim, Caratini took off for home.
Shortstop Willy Adames ran up to catch Narvaez’s throw and returned the ball home. A good throw might have gotten Caratini, but Adames’ throw instead flew wide to the first base side of the plate and got away from Narvaez, allowing Kim to run to third.
After fouling off two pitches, Jurickson Profar followed with a single to right field that scored Kim.
“You know runs can potentially be tough to come by,” Tingler said before the game of facing a pitcher like Burnes, the right-hander who came into the game with a 1.79 ERA and had shut out the Padres on four hits over six inning April 20 in San Diego.
Profar’s single was the Padres’ first of two hits off Burnes on Tuesday. Caratini had reached on a walk, gone to second when Burnes hit Kim and to third on a fly ball to right field by Tommy Pham.
The Padres (31-18) scored another run before they got their next hit.
Pham walked to lead off the sixth inning and was standing on third, having stolen second and advanced on a wild pitch, before Profar walked and stole second during Jake Cronenworth’s strikeout. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s fly ball to center field scored Pham to make it 3-0. Eric Hosmer followed with a single that drove in Profar.
The sixth was the final inning for Burnes.
The Padres added two runs in the seventh. Kim singled with one out, pinch-hitter Brian O’Grady moved him to third with a double, Pham’s chopper over the mound brought in Kim and Profar’s double scored O’Grady.
The Padres did not stop running. Tatis walked, stole their sixth base of the night to get to second and went to third after Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw threw to first base to get Wil Myers on a grounder for the inning’s second out. That put Tatis in position to score on a wild pitch by Josh Lindblom.
As unusual as the night was for Burnes, it was arguably more so for Padres starter Joe Musgrove.
The right-hander allowed his first hit, a single up the middle by Lorenzo Cain, with one out in the fifth inning and then immediately seemed to lose all command. He hit a batter, got a fly ball out and walked Burnes on four pitches to load the bases.
Tim Hill came in and got Kolten Wong on a fielder’s choice grounder.
Hill pitched a perfect sixth. Craig Stammen yielded a two-out home run to Shaw in the seventh before retiring the Brewers in order in the eighth. Emilio Pagán did the same in the ninth.