San Diego Padres history: The 10 best games of Tony Gwynn's career

Sports Contributor Archive 2020
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Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

4., June 6, 1984, Padres 7, Giants 6. The Padres trailed Atlanta by half a game entering the second half of a Sunday doubleheader at Candlestick. San Diego won the first game 7-5, but trailed this one 6-4 entering the ninth inning.

Hitless to that point and due up seventh, Gwynn was unlikely to get a chance to influence the outcome. But Carmelo Martinez and Garry Templeton both singled off Giants reliever Gary Lavelle, and Bruce Bochy’s fly ball got one run home to make the score 6-5. Steve Garvey followed with a hit, but Templeton was thrown out at home attempting to score the tying run.

Alan Wiggins kept the inning alive with a hit and Bobby Brown worked a walk, giving Gwynn his chance. He lined a single off Lavelle that scored both Garvey and Wiggins with the tying and go-ahead runs. When Rich Gossage stopped the Giants in the bottom of the ninth, San Diego had a comeback 7-6 victory. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.636.

3. July 20, 1984, Padres 3, Pirates. Not surprisingly, 1984 – with three entries – is the most represented of Gwynn’s seasons on this list.  By mid-July, the Padres commanded the NL West race, holding a six and one-half game lead on the Braves. But they lost the first game of this Friday night doubleheader at Three Rivers, and were being shut out by John Tudor entering the eighth inning of the second game.

With first and sixth inning hits, Gwynn was the only Padre experiencing any success against Tudor. Down to their final five outs, Bruce Bochy beat out a base hit and, one out later, Alan Wiggins also singled, moving pinch runner Kurt Bevacqua to second.

Power was only an occasional aspect of Gwynn’s game but, against Tudor, he muscled up and rocketed a home run into the right field seats. It was all the offense San Diego would generate in the game, and it was enough to seal an eventual 3-2 victory. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.697.

2. June 11, 1993, Padres 5, Dodgers 4. The situation looked hopeless for the home team on this Friday evening at Jack Murphy Stadium. The Dodgers had steadily built a 4-0 lead which Kevin Gross protected, holding the Padres to just three hits over eight innings.

But when Gross was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth, the Padres got into the Dodger bullpen, and the gettings were good. After Gary Sheffield touched a young Pedro Martinez for a single, Fred McGriff homered to make the score 4-2. A walk, two singles, and two strikeouts later, Gwynn came up against left-handed Omar Daal, the third Dodger pitcher of the inning. 

Gwynn took a first pitch ball, then lined Daal’s second pitch into the gap in center. Derek Bell and Craig Shipley scored easily and, when Ricky Gutierrez beat the relay home, Gwynn’s hit had completed a stunning five-run rally good for a walkoff victory. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.749. 

1. June 21, 1986, Padres 8, Dodgers 7. From an impact standpoint, Gwynn’s greatest single regular-season game unfolded under the Dodger Stadium lights. His team was in a 5-0 hole when Gwynn went to work in the seventh inning with a ground single into left field that scored Garry Templeton and advanced two other runners.  Those runners both later scored on a Steve Garvey single.

The Padres still trailed 6-5 when Gwynn led off the ninth against Ken Howell. He singled, stole second, took third on an Alex Trevino throwing error, and scored the tying run on a Kevin McReynolds fly ball.

Fast-forward to the 11th for a repeat: A Gwynn single, a steal of second and a lead run scored on McReynolds’ double. The only problem was that the Dodgers tied the game in the bottom of the 11th.

And so things proceeded into the 14th inning. After Tim Flannery opened with a hit, Gwynn beat out an infield grounder, moving the lead run into scoring position. Two strikeouts later, John Kruk singled to score Flannery. This time the Padre pen held, producing an 8-7 victory. Gwynn Win Probability Added: 0.757.