Despite how 2013 finished for the Padres – there was a moment that captured the exact high point of the season.
In 2013 – that moment came on June 24th. After the game, they would sit just 2 games back from first place and 1 game over .500. The game did not start well, as they fell behind 3-0 to the Phillies as Cliff Lee was showing why he has been one of the best pitchers in the game for a good while at this point. Lee was dealing and started the 9th inning looking for the 13th complete game shutout of his career. In other words, he had been here before.
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But Kyle Blanks and the Padres had other plans. Carlos Quentin started things off with a single before Chase Headley doubled to left Lee and bring in closer Jonathan Papelbon with runners on second and third. Blanks immediately singled in both runs to bring the Padres within one run and a dramatic comeback.
They had come into the game losing their last two and so were hoping to snap that skid. Pinch hitter Jesus Guzman was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Up came Yasmani Grandal in one his rare appearances of 2013. Double play.
At this point many of the 26,265 who hadn’t left before the 9th started cleaned up the areas around them getting ready to leave. Typical Padres, right? Maybe not.
On the double play, Blanks had scooted over to 3rd, leaving the winning run just 90 feet away. Up next for the Padres was pinch hitter Mark Kotsay, in the midst of his final season and having a tough time of it.
"“I saw the swing and I just saw the ball pop through. It wasn’t my best jump, but I got there.”."
He scored and the game was tied. Kotsay struck out to end the frame.
Into extra innings and time for some free baseball. Jimmy Rollins singled to start things off, then advanced to second after Chris Denorfia caught a deep fly in center but had trouble getting the ball out of his mitt. He dropped the ball and Rollins was able to get all the way to third. Not a good spot to be in.
Luke Gregerson though was having a terrific season, and was able to strike out Michael Young on three straight sliders before Joe Thatcher struck out Domonic Brown to end the threat. Onto the bottom half.
Deno started things off with a one out walk before Quentin got hit by another pitch to advance the runners. Unlike earlier in the season when he charged Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke he did not charge the mount and start a brawl. Headley drew a walk to load the bases for Blanks, who already had 3 hits in the game so far.
What happened next I caught on video:
Yup, Blanks pulled the ball just in the line on third and the game was over, just like that! Padres win! The crowd that was left went crazy, including my friend Henry in the video. A
fter this game they would go on to only win two of their next 17 and fade into oblivion.
What is also interesting to me is how many key Padres from this game are no longer with the club. Headley, Blanks, Gregorson, Grandal, and Guzman to start. At the rate Preller is going this off-season, there might be even less.