This was a pretty exciting baseball game, so rather than tell you the score up front, let’s take you through the game as we experienced it.
We’ve reached a point now where we’re very comfortable having Tyson Ross on the mound for the San Diego Padres. He’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League this season, and he continued that with six quality innings on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park.
The Padres offense had trouble plating the leadoff hitters early in the game. In the first inning, Everth Cabrera led off with a single and stole second and third base while the number two and three hitters failed to advance him. After cleanup hitter Tommy Medica walked, Cabrera was stranded at third when Yasmani Grandal grounded out to end the inning.
Will Venable, who had the game-winning hit in Saturday night’s game, continued his hot hitting with a leadoff knock in the second. Rene Rivera advanced him to second with a grounder to third, but with two outs and the pitcher coming to the plate, it appeared the Padres would waste another leadoff hit.
Enter Tyson Ross, baseball player.
Ross battled Braves’ starter Aaron Harang through a 7-pitch AB, and ultimately won the battle with a sharp grounder through the middle. RBI single for the pitcher. 1-0 lead, Padres.
Harang had an opportunity to return the favor in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third, Harang came up with two outs. It turned out that only one pitcher would deliver an RBI single in this game, and it was Ross. Harang struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
The Padres picked up their second run in a very unusual, exciting inning in the fourth. After a Venable leadoff walk, Alexi Amarista, known as the Little Ninja, singled to the right fielder Jason Heyward. Venable decided to test Heyward’s arm, and Heyward did not disappoint. He threw a rocket directly to the cutoff man, who cut off the throw and went to tag Amarista, who was attempting to advance on the throw. The ninja wiggled and contorted his body trying to avoid the tag, but was called out. With much of the crowd voicing their displeasure for the call, manager Buddy Black appealed, and the umpires reversed the call.
Harang then pitched around Ross. Well, he walked him anyway… And Cabrera followed with a sac fly to score the Padres second run.
Ross cruised through six shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk. But something changed in the top of the seventh, and he allowed a leadoff walk to Justin Upton. Heyward crushed a triple to center field, and Evan Gattis followed with hard-hit double to tie the game at 2-2. As effectively as Ross had pitched through six innings, his day was over. Black brought in Nick Vincent, who immediately gave up another double to Chris Johnson. But Gattis was holding up, ready to tag up at second if the ball was caught, and could only advance to third on the 2-base hit.
This proved costly, because after Ramiro Pena was walked to load the bases, Vincent struck out Emilio Bonifacio for the first out. Vincent then induced B.J. Upton to hit into a 5-2-3 double play to end the inning, keeping the score tied at two.
Tyson Ross has now gone nine consecutive games of 6.0+ IP and two or fewer runs allowed, the second-longest streak in Padres team history.
So at this point, both teams had failed to bring home runners from third base. Who would ultimately prevail?
It was Amarista’s turn to create some additional excitement in the top of the 8th. On consecutive potential-double-play grounders to short, the second baseman dropped the ball on the transfer from his glove hand to his throwing hand. The first time, the runner was called safe, but Black appealed, and the call was reversed for the first out. Two pitches later, it looked like Fox Sports was showing the same play again, but it really was Amarista dropping the ball again. This time, the runner was called out, and it was Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez‘s turn to appeal. But the call was upheld. The Padres won both appeals.
Andrew Cashner could be seen in the Padres dugout shaking and hitting Amarista’s glove, presumably to knock the evil spirits out of it.
Tommy Medica, who hit two homers in Friday night’s game against these same Braves in a 5-for-5 night, stepped up to lead off the 8th inning. On a full count, Medica blasted an absolute shot into the left field stands on a fastball. This ball was absolutely smoked. Medica’s 7th homer of the year put the Padres back on top 3-2.
The Padres traded Huston Street a week or two ago. So Joaquin Benoit came in to close the game in the ninth. Heyward, who had already hit a single and triple in the game, greeted Benoit with a double. When Gattis followed with a comebacker, Benoit whirled and threw to third to get the lead runner. It turned out to be a bad decision and a bad throw, which got by third baseman Yangervis Solarte, who had just come into the game, allowing Heyward to score the tying run.
Some excitement of the negative variety followed when catcher Rene Rivera was hit with a foul tip on his throwing arm, and took several minutes recovering. Rivera seemed to be in quite a bit of pain, and his first practice throw after being hit sailed over the head of Benoit. But Rivera is tough, and threw a few more times, and stayed in the game. Benoit then retired the side without further incident.
Yonder Alonso came in to pinch hit, and led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. Pinch runner Abraham Almonte took second on a sacrifice by Cabrera, and with two outs, Seth Smith walked on four pitches, bringing Medica to the plate again. Medica had already tied the Padres’ all-time record for most total bases in a three-game series with 18. The Braves wouldn’t allow Medica to play the hero, though, walking him on four straight pitches.
Jedd Gyorko, who had entered the game in the top of the inning, came to bat with the bases loaded. Braves reliever Juan Jaime started Gyorko with three straight balls, then finally got the ball over after 11 straight pitches out of the strike zone. On a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth innings, Gyorko grounded out to third.
Time for free baseball!
After Tim Stauffer retired the Braves 1-2-3 in the 10th, Venable stayed hot and led off the 10th with in infield hit. Amarista followed with a walk, and Rivera came up to sacrifice. He hit the ball in the air, and didn’t run immediately out of the box. The pitcher fielded the ball on a bounce, threw to third for the force, and the third baseman threw to first to double-up Rivera. Two down, man on second. Pinch hitter Chris Nelson followed with yet another walk, bringing up Cabrera. On a 1-2 count, Amarista and Nelson pulled off a double-steal to put men on second and third with two down.
As you may remember, the Padres started the day with a single by Cabrera. Well they ended the day the same way, as Cabrera drove the 2-2 pitch into center field for a game-winning single! Final score: 4-3 Padres. For the second straight night, the Padres won on a walk-off. They swept the Braves, and have won five of their last six games.
Tomorrow, they will have a well-deserved day off, and travel to Minnesota to face the Twins in a two-game set starting Tuesday at 5:10 PM PDT.