San Diego, California
After a couple of forgettable nights to open a four-game series versus the Nationals, things again looked bleak in the top of the first Saturday night with Travis Wood on the mound for the Padres.
Wood got the initial two outs, but then Anthony Rendon worked a 13-pitch walk and Ryan Zimmerman followed with an eight-pitch free pass. Howie Kendrick, hotter than an enchilada fresh off the grill, stepped into the box. Padre skipper Andy Green got the soft tossing Kyle McGrath up in the bullpen. It was beginning to look like another long night for the good guys.
On the 36th pitch of the first frame, Wood induced Hendrick to harmlessly fly out to right field. It would take Wood only 65 more pitches to get through six more innings, giving up only a measly run because of an errant throw he himself had committed. Travis Wood was exceptional tonight, giving the Friars seven solid innings while giving zero earned. With Trevor Cahill already on the shelf in Kansas City, that part of the recent trade with the Royals is coming up sweet roses.
Stephen Strasburg started tonight for the Nationals. A noted Padre killer (6-0 all-time versus San Diego), he’d been on the disabled list since July 23 with nerve impingement in his right elbow. In his first start back, maybe he was a little rusty. In the bottom of the first, with two out, Jose Pirela laced a clean single to right. Next up, Yangervis Solarte, sensing opportunity, jumped on a grooved 95-mph fastball, launching it eight rows back in the right field stands. 2-0 after one.
After the first, Strasburg settled in as well, and a pitchers’ duel broke out. The Padres didn’t get to the Nationals’ staff again until Strasburg had been pulled after six. In the seventh, Sammy Solis went walk, single, walk to start the inning. The Pads would only manage a run out of the inning, but it padded their lead to 3-1.
Kirby Yates struck out the side in the 8th, setting the stage for Brad Hand in the 9th. Brad Hand did Brad Hand things, getting two Ks himself along with a harmless fly out, to record his 11th save (without a blown save). Between Wood, Yates, and Hand the Padres retired the last 13 National hitters they faced and the good guys held on for a smooth 3-1 victory.
There wasn’t too much to this one.
Catch a glimpse of this Solar-te eclipse 🌒 pic.twitter.com/CD9L9TDlAl
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) August 20, 2017
Wood escaped the first and put on a master class from then on out. Solarte went deep in the first before Strasburg could re-acclimate to the big leagues. The Padres’ bullpen was lights out. There were only eight hits combined between the two teams, but San Diego came out on top, halting a mini two-game losing streak and guaranteeing a winning home stand (currently standing at 4 and 2 with tomorrow’s game remaining).
A fine night for the Taco Train on just another beautiful night in America’s Finest City.