There is no question that little is going the way of the San Diego Padres right now. Having lost four straight games heading into Sunday's action (as well as 11 of their past 13 contests), the Padres find themselves at 20-26 and 8.5 games behind the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in the division chase.
If there's a silver lining for the Padres as Sunday dawns, it's the fact that the Los Angeles lead could potentially have been 9.5 games had the Dodgers not been fleeced by a bad call to end the contest in St. Louis on Saturday night, eventually a 6-5 win by the Cardinals.
San Diego Padres fans can at least smile at bad ending for Los Angeles Dodgers
Let's set the scene in St. Louis as the Dodgers and Cardinals continued their series under the Gateway Arch. The Dodgers are trailing 6-3 as the top of the ninth inning begins. Against Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley, Miguel Vargas opens the inning with a double, then moves to third on a single by David Peralta. A Jason Heyward double plates Vargas and moves Peralta to third, inching the Dodgers closer at 6-4.
At this point, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol has seen enough and pulls Helsley for Giovanny Gallegos. The right-hander gets James Outman to line out to second, causing no damage and getting the first out of the frame. Will Smith pinch hits for Austin Barnes and records a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Peralta and moving the Dodgers within one run at 6-5.
Mookie Betts then steps to the plate and works a full count against Gallegos as Heyward stands on second, looking to score the tying run. That's when home plate umpire Paul Emmel gifted the Cardinals a victory and the Padres at least something good on Saturday.
Take a look at where this full count pitch hits in the glove of Willson Contreras, how he frames it, and the reaction from Betts and the Dodgers bench.
Where did that pitch land and what impact did it have? Take a look below.
Overall, Emmel had a solid game behind the plate. But the final call of the night was a big one, for both the Cardinals and Dodgers, as well as the Padres, who are searching for all positives in what has been a very tough start to the season.