Framing the Friars: Villanueva Goes Deep Three Times to Power Padres to First Win

Credit: AP Photo

Credit: USA Today Sports

Petco Park, San Diego

Tyson Ross made his most recent start for the San Diego Padres exactly two years after making an Opening Day start at Petco Park in 2016.

Ross, who was called up by the Padres on April 3, started on the mound against the Colorado Rockies.

He went six innings, and it was very different from when he pitched against the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago.

The 30-year-old right-hander threw six innings against Colorado, allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked three. San Diego won the game 8-4, giving them their first win in 2018.

It was nothing like that abysmal start against the Dodgers in 2016, where he gave up eight runs over 5.1 innings in a 15-0 loss. Adding injury to insult, literally, he was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation after the game. He missed the rest of the 2016 season.

After spending 2017 with the Texas Rangers, the Padres signed Ross to a minor league contract this past winter.

The biggest story of the night, however, was Christian Villanueva. The young third baseman went deep three times in a win. It was the Padres’ first win of the season.

 

April 3 was the first time Villanueva hit three home runs in a game. He is the second Padres rookie to accomplish the feat. Hunter Renfroe hit three dingers last season in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Villanueva had four home runs in 36 at-bats for the Padres last season. Early in 2018, he has been at the plate eight times. He has three hits so far this season. All three ended up in the left field seats.

Villanueva’s first home run came in the bottom of the second inning. Facing Colorado starter Kyle Freeland, Villanueva worked the count full. The sixth pitch of the at-bat was a slider that was down in the strike zone, but over the middle of the plate.

Villanueva made contact and hit a moon shot. The ball traveled 403 feet, bouncing off the “N” on the Western Metal Supply building. His first home run gave the Padres a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Rockies up 3-1, Villanueva hit another solo shot off Freeland. This time, the pitch was an 88 mph changeup over the inner-half. Villanueva turned that 88 mph changeup into a 105 mph line drive that found its way into the seats in left.

In Villanueva’s third plate appearance, he was hit by the first pitch from Scott Oberg. He took his free pass to first base. Later in the inning, Villanueva scored on a fielder’s choice by Carlos Asuaje to make the score 5-3 in the sixth inning.

The Padres took the lead in the sixth inning thanks to an RBI-single by Freddy Galvis with the bases loaded. Jose Pirela and Hunter Renfroe both scored on Galvis’ single.

Villanueva delivered a huge blow to the Rockies with his third home run of the game. It came in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With two men on, Villanueva hit a 91 mph fastball from Antonio Senzatella. It was down in the zone and over the middle of the plate, like his first home run. The blast had a 107 mph exit velocity and traveled 391 feet.

The San Diego bullpen was able to preserve the lead for Ross, giving him his first win as a Padre since 2015. Brad Hand earned his first save of the season.

The Padres and Rockies play the third game in a four-game series on April 4 at Petco Park. Clayton Richard is projected to take the bump in his second start of the season. On the other side, Jon Gray will start on the mound for Colorado.

The game begins at 7:10 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

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Mike Ursery
Mike is the sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser, and has been with East Village Times since 2015. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report. He is an avid Padres fan who is keeping the faith and trusting the process.

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