Good morning from New York,
The smile was back, almost as big as ever.
So that was a bright spot on a night in which the Padres could have once again used a few more productive at-bats.
Speaking after the Padres’ 8-5 loss to the Mets, Fernando Tatis Jr. grinned as he talked about having taken on-field batting practice at Citi Field over the weekend and the tentative plan going forward.
“Couple lives and then head out to San Antonio for a rehab,” he said.
Those “live” sessions facing pitchers on the field are not expected to take place until the team returns to San Diego following its upcoming three-game series in Detroit. That means Tatis probably won’t begin his rehab assignment until early next week.
The Padres could slow down his progression at any point. But provided there continue to be no setbacks with his surgically repaired left wrist, it at least seems possible Tatis could make his season debut when the Padres are in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers Aug. 5-7.
Tatis expects to hit on the field and in the batting cage at Comerica Park in the coming days.
“It’s a big step,” he said. “I feel pretty good.”
You can read about the Padres’ return to their pre-All-Star break futility in my game story (here).
If you missed the game, don’t worry. You’ve seen it before.
All Sunday did was provide more confirmation the Padres need Tatis and whatever other offensive help they can acquire before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
Victories on Friday and Saturday against the Mets were impressive in that the Padres found a way to beat two good pitchers. That way was by hitting home runs.
Other than those three homers, however, their offense was no better all weekend than it was for a month leading up to last week’s All-Star break. And what it has been in 32 games since June 17 is the fourth-lowest scoring offense in the major leagues.
Here’s the biggest reason why (other than that they hit so few home runs): The Padres were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position last night and 3-for-26 in the series. Since June 17, they rank 25th in the majors with a .215 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Too much, too nice
It happened again. A speedy Padres rookie got a little excited and slid past the bag on what would otherwise have been a successful steal attempt.
This time, Esteury Ruiz might have maintained contact with the bag. But he was called out, and a challenge by the Padres was unsuccessful.
“I think there’s a lot of exuberance as far as he goes,” manager Bob Melvin said. “There’s so much torque and so much speed going in there. … He just kept going. But I don’t think that he came off the bag.”
While Ruiz immediately protested that Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor had pushed his leg off the bag with a strong tag and Melvin later agreed, that is not reviewable by replay. That is a judgment call by the umpire.
Ruiz acknowledged that the smoother infield dirt and smaller bases than what he played with the majority of this season in Double-A could have been factors in his sliding past the bag.
Blake Snell was removed Saturday after five scoreless innings partially to ensure he had a good feeling about his performance. Joe Musgrove was lifted with one out in what was on its way to being a five-run sixth inning last night.
So those were somewhat stand-alone situations.
However, with the Padres going to a five-man rotation for the time being — and probably for most of the rest of the season — it likely won’t be unique to see Melvin pulling starting pitchers earlier than he generally has to this point.
Padres starters entered yesterday’s game tied for the major league lead with an average of 5.7 innings per start. They led the league with an average of 93 pitches per start.
Their performance has certainly dictated their staying in games longer. But a significant portion of Melvin’s comfort with having his starters frequently go so deep was that the team was using a six-man rotation.
Nick Martinez and MacKenzie Gore have moved to the bullpen — Martinez seemingly for the duration and Gore likely for all but some possible spot starts.
“We’ve gone from what at times was a six-man bullpen now to one that can be up to nine at times,” Melvin said. “… So the way we looked earlier potentially is not the way we look going forward. Could be more enhanced in the bullpen and lesser in the rotation, and maybe cut the starters off a little bit earlier and go a little bit against what it looked like in the first half.”
Good memories live on
Eric Hosmer likes Citi Field.
“Still smells like champagne,” he said in the visitors’ clubhouse Friday night, feigning a sniff as he turned his nose upward and smiled.
The ballpark is where he and his Kansas City Royals teammates clinched the 2015 World Series.
In a series of less import, but still crucial for the Padres, Hosmer had his most productive three-game stretch in some time.
He was 5-for-12 with a walk, two doubles and a homer over the past three days.
Hosmer was 2-for-4 last night, driving in the Padres’ first run with a double and their final run with a groundout. On Friday, his two-run homer provided the difference in a 4-1 victory.
He has reached base safely in his past 12 games and is batting .271 with a .750 OPS over his past 23 games.
The best matchup is not always simply righty vs. lefty or vice versa.
Left-handed hitting CJ Abrams was originally starting at shortstop Saturday before biceps soreness sidelined him. That was because Mets right-hander Chris Bassitt is far better against right-handed batters. Right-handed hitter Ha-Seong Kim was always going to start yesterday, even if Abrams was healthy, because Mets righty Carlos Carrasco has reverse splits, meaning he is better against left-handed batters.
“If you look at their numbers,” Melvin said of Abrams and Kim, “yeah, it’s getting into a place where one guy is hitting righties a little better and one guy is hitting lefties a little better. So coming into the second half here, we’re going to try to play the matchups best we can. But it is not a strict platoon.”
Since Abrams was recalled June 20, he has started 14 of 17 games against right-handers and three times against lefties. Kim has started all but one game started by a left-hander. (Both have been in the starting lineup for three games against lefties.)
- Manny Machado had his first three-hit game since June 16. It was just his third multi-hit game since returning from his ankle injury on June 30. Machado was tied for second in the major leagues with nine games with three or more hits at the time of his injury. He now has 27 multi-hit games. Machado has been playing through the lingering effects of his injury but said Saturday he is feeling better.
- Jorge Alfaro got his team-leading fifth pinch-hit RBI last night. His ninth-inning single tied him with Trent Grisham for the team lead with three hits as a pinch-hitter.
- Austin Nola was 2-for-5 and is batting .370 (10-for-27) during an eight-game hitting streak.
- Luke Voit walked three times last night and has a .360 on-base percentage over a six-game on-base streak.
- If it seemed like the Mets hit a lot of foul balls, it’s because they do. Their 2,625 fouls entering last night’s game led the major leagues.
- Right fielder Wil Myers’ rehab assignment will continue for at least a couple more days, as he and the Padres felt he would benefit by getting more at-bats in Triple-A. He is 4-for-14 in three games with El Paso and went 6-for-18 in five games with low-A Lake Elsinore. He has at least one hit in every game he has played during the rehab assignment. A knee injury forced him to the IL on June 2. Said Melvin: “I don’t think he feels comfortable enough with the time off yet to where he’s ready to face major league pitching.”
- Grisham was held out of yesterday’s game due to lingering back stiffness after his spill in a collision with Bassitt in the seventh inning Saturday. Ruiz started in center field. Melvin indicated Grisham was available off the bench, but he did not play.
- Abrams took ground balls at second base yesterday afternoon but had someone else throw the ball. The rookie was available to hit but was still experiencing some soreness when throwing.
- Pomeranz could begin a rehab assignment this week, though Melvin said it wasn’t certain whether the left-hander would instead throw another simulated inning. Pomeranz is recovering from August flexor tendon surgery and “still feels it some” when he throws, according to Melvin.
Their first, my last
The Padres have never won in Detroit.
They have played just six games there — a three-game series in June 2005 and three games in the 1984 World Series. But the fact remains the Padres are winless in The D.
The Tigers have the second-worst record (38-58) in the American League this season.
All right, that’s it for me. Early flight to Detroit. Yes, I’m still in Queens as I write this. (Thanks, ESPN.)
After today, I will be able to say I have been to every MLB ballpark. Tiger Stadium was actually my favorite ballpark because it was so old and cramped. It was just charming. But I have never been to Comerica Park.
Talk to you tomorrow.