It was a very rough day for the San Diego Padres as not only did they drop the first game of the series to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0, they did so by allowing Walker Buehler and three relievers to achieve a combined no-hitter.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the Padres played a regular season series at Estadio Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, but unfortunately, Mother Nature must have missed the memo. Throughout the first three innings of the game, a monsoon of rain poured down during game play but, despite numerous interruptions for the grounds crew to fix the mound for the pitchers, the umpires decided to keep the game going.
Joey Lucchesi struggled early on and didn’t get much help from his defense as a Matt Kemp fly ball fell in shallow right field with numerous Padres losing the ball in the lights, allowing Chris Taylor to score.
Lucchesi’s struggles continued into the second inning as two fastballs caught too much of the plate, leading to solo shots off the bats of Chris Taylor and Kike Hernandez. The conditions could have played a role in his struggles, but it appears more likely that he didn’t have a good feeling for his off-speed pitches, forcing him into hitter’s counts. Lucchesi was able to settle down, however, when conditions improved, and held the Dodgers to three runs through five innings of work. He was able to command his fastball and off-speed pitches down in the zone and started to get ahead in counts towards the end of his night. Despite lacking the stuff he has shown in previous starts, his stature on the mound continues to impress.
The Padres were gifted back-to-back walks to Lucchesi and Pirela in the bottom of the third, but Hosmer lined into a double play that killed any hopes of a potential rally. Through five innings, the Padres had already racked up seven strikeouts and zero hits, with the strikeouts in particular becoming an unsettling trend that has continued to hound this team.
In the top of the sixth, Chase Utley lined what should have been double down the right field line, but with said liner turning into a triple after it was poorly played by Matt Szczur. That was followed by a line drive single over the head of Freddy Galvis by Alex Verdugo, scoring Utley and extending the Dodgers lead to 4-0.
The Padres again were gifted two back-to-back walks to Franchy Cordero and Raffy Lopez in the bottom of the seventh. These walks were squandered by a strikeout from Szczur and a weak groundout up the middle from Freddy Galvis and, through seven innings, the Padres remained hitless.
Unfortunately, the Padres would go without a hit for the rest of the game in a 4-0 defeat and would fall victim to the Dodgers first no-hitter since 2014, in which they had two players accomplish the feat–Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett. One day, the Padres will be on the right side of history, but on this night in Monterrey, Mexico, the team found themselves once again on the wrong side and will continue to wait for their moment in history.
In this very long season, it will be imperative for the team to pull out the positives from each game to remain optimistic. While it may not seem like a positive when simply looking at the box score, Lucchesi’s performance was impressive once again. Yes, he really struggled early on, missing his spots and had little feel for his curveball early on, but he kept his composure and battled through some difficult conditions that could have rattled any rookie.
First of all, playing in a foreign country can get the blood pressure going right away. Furthermore, the game *probably* should have been put into a delay as the rain was pouring down for the first few innings. Anytime the grounds crew has to fix the mound between every half-inning, the game should be delayed. Despite all of the that, Lucchesi remained poised and battled through five tough innings, keeping his team in the game. To see that type of maturity from a young player early in his career is really impressive and should not be overlooked.
The bullpen also deserves an honorable mention. Adam Cimber, Kazuhisa Makita, and Phil Maton combined for four strikeouts while only surrendering a run through four innings of work. They have been incredibly taxed through the first month of the season and have continued to grind out innings to keep the Padres in games. If only the offense could produce for them.
Unfortunately, we cannot ignore the ugly side of this team. What has been a struggle for the last decade, offensive production, was yet again a problem for the Padres tonight. Walker Buehler no-hit the Padres through six innings before Tony Cingrani took over in the seventh. Despite walking two, Cingrani kept the no-hitter intact. Yimi Garcia continued the bid in the 8th, and Adam Liberatore finished the job in the 9th.
The Padres looked overmatched all night. Through the first six innings, Buehler attacked them with a fastball that they seemingly could not catch up to. After that, they looked defeated in what was supposed to be an exciting offensive show. But, as has been the trend all year, the Padres had a hard time putting the ball in play, striking out thirteen times. Even when given opportunities (five BB’s by Dodgers pitching) the Padres could not get anything going. If things don’t turn around soon, there may be a new hitting coach in the mix. At the end of the day, however, it is up to the players to make the adjustments.