The San Diego Padres end July by splitting the two-game series with the Baltimore Orioles. Here are three takeaways from the interleague match-up.
Despite holding a 4-0 lead going into the fourth inning, the San Diego Padres found a way to blow it against the Baltimore Orioles. They gave up five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to split the series against the league’s second-to-worst team.
The Padres will now have a day of rest that coincides with the MLB trade deadline. As they sit at 50-57 and 7.0 games out of the playoffs, Friar fans will wait in anticipation for any news to come. For now, it looks like Franmil Reyes and Logan Allen will be sent to the Cleveland Indians in a three-way trade with the Cincinnati Reds. More details to come.
Nevertheless, San Diego has a lot to think about going into the off day. Here are three takeaways from the series split against the O’s.
Early runs set the tone, but not enough
Before this series, the Padres had given up at least one first-inning run in seven of their last 14 games. It was good to see the Friars reverse that trend this time around.
Fernando Tatis Jr. started off the scoring with a home run in the first, making it two nights in a row with a lead-off homer. San Diego jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning of Game 1 and then a 3-0 lead in Game 2. The Padres followed up with a run in the third inning to carry a 4-0 lead into the fourth.
Since the All-Star break, the Friars had given up a first-inning lead to every opponent except for the San Francisco Giants. Scoring as many runs as possible is the name of the game, and they seemed on track to make the most of it on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, as the Padres have had their own spate of comebacks this season, the Orioles got the best of them this time around.
That said, this series showed how scoring first and scoring early can generate momentum and set the tone for the rest of the game — no surprise there. The Padres could use some more of that.
Dinelson Lamet faced familiar struggles; he looked good through three innings but crumbled in the fourth. He loaded the bases and let three runs score, finishing the game by allowing those three runs in five innings with five strikeouts and two walks.
After a few impressive relief appearances, the bullpen reared its ugly head once more. While Craig Stammen pitched a scoreless frame to relieve Lamet — an interesting decision to bring him out in the sixth inning — Matt Strahm struggled immediately and immensely.
Strahm hadn’t allowed a run to score in 6.1 innings of relief over five games. He undid all of that success in one go, surrendering five runs off five hits in only 1.2 innings on Tuesday.
The rotation continues to show its inexperience and youth, once again allowing its problems to leak into the bullpen. Aside from his no-hitter bid, Chris Paddack is the only Padres pitcher to go past six innings since July 7. Including that game, Padres starters have gone at least seven innings only eight times all season.
With such a shaky spate of relievers, the starting rotation’s inability to go deep is the single biggest obstacle to winning games this season. At this point in the year, it might’ve become too much to overcome.
Mismanaged and misguided
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Questions abound as to whether Andy Green is the right manager for the Padres.
He made some head-scratching decisions in tonight’s game, particularly with the bullpen — why did he bring Stammen out of the pen so early? Why did he leave Strahm in the game after he had blown the lead? Why was no one else warming up in relief with an off day to follow?
Hindsight is 20-20, but these aren’t uncommon mistakes that Green has made as manager.
One has to wonder if his seat is getting hot. He has a difficult job with such a thin starting rotation and subpar bullpen, but it feels like the mismanagement has seeped beyond the mound.
Next year is when the Padres truly plan to contend, ideally with a much better roster all-around. It’s unlikely that Green will be fired before the end of this season, as he’ll probably get at least a chance to lead the team into 2020. How much slack will he have though — will his leash be short? Or is he given a pass this season because of the lack of roster depth?
That’ll unravel as we reach the fall. Nevertheless, the Padres seem all but out of the 2019 playoff race; they haven’t won a series since the All-Star break, and even though they’re only 7.0 games out of the wild card, this team just can’t consistently compete. In such a crowded playoff race, that’s not going to fly.
If anything, San Diego’s primary goals should be developing their arms and, if possible, finishing the season above .500. Bring up some prospects when the roster expands in September and give them some big-league experience. Continue fighting to improve the culture and end the season on a high note by getting at least 81 wins.
It’s a tall task, but if they can achieve that then 2019 will be considered a success. While we were never expected to compete this season, we should still make the most of it.
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