In their second straight chance to win the series on Sunday, the Padres failed to capitalize versus the Nationals. A strong start to the game by San Diego’s bullpen was squandered in a disastrous eighth inning that saw Washington hit four home runs in a row. That deficit was too much to overcome in the end as the Padres lost 5-2.
Sunday’s contest between the Padres and Nationals was a planned bullpen game for San Diego, which started well for the team overall.
Although Ian Kinsler‘s dropped pop-up on the opening play of the game allowed the Nationals to go up 1-0, Luis Perdomo pitched 3.1 innings without giving up an earned run to move his ERA to 3.43 on the season. The team’s pitching staff only managed five strikeouts in the game, although they impressively only walked a single hitter. This was largely due to the plate umpire calling a very large strike zone, as the Nationals didn’t walk a single batter in the game.
On offense, the Padres had a rough game in facing Stephen Strasburg, who had good stuff and only allowed one run through seven innings. That single run was scored by Franmil Reyes, on a single by Ian Kinsler during the fourth inning. Reyes had one of the best performances among the Padres position players, with two sharply hit singles off Strasburg in consecutive at-bats. It was the first game since the return of Tatis Jr. in which he really disappointed, striking out twice versus Strasburg. Nonetheless, he still had a base hit and is leading the team in batting average at .315.
This game was ultimately decided by the rocky eighth inning thrown by Craig Stammen. A string of four straight Nationals hitters crushed home runs in consecutive at-bats, which did the Padres in on Sunday afternoon. Outside of Stammen faltering, the bullpen pitched a great game. Following Stammen was Miguel Diaz, who threw the final 1.1 innings without giving up a hit. We have to credit Perdomo, Erlin, Wingenter, and Diaz for their 8.1 frames without allowing a single earned run. That group of pitchers only gave up three combined hits, lead by Trey Wingenter‘s two innings in which he struck out four hitters.
It must also be noted that Manny Machado was given the day off by manager Andy Green. This moved Eric Hosmer into the three hole in the lineup, as well as Fernando Tatis Jr. back to second. Perhaps the day off will give Machado a chance to clear his head and get back on track. A huge key for the team has been the disappointing production by the superstar third baseman, which they clearly need. If Machado can get back to being some semblance of his usual self, this team would have a significantly better chance of competing for a Wild Card spot.
The most significant issue for the team recently, though, has been the bullpen. Perhaps after all of the innings thrown by Stammen over the last few years, it’s time for the team to ease his workload and allow some other pitchers to throw the later innings. He’s had a rough go of it lately but was arguably the most valuable Padres reliever in 2017 and 2018. Regardless of whether he gets back on track, the Padres will need to upgrade the bullpen if they are to compete in the NL West. Help is on the way in the high minor leagues, though. Michel Baez, Adrian Morejon, and Andres Muñoz are all rumored to be strongly considered bullpen options for the Padres this season. Now we just wait and see when the team decides the youngsters are ready to contribute at the big league level.
The Padres are off on Monday before starting a two-game set with the Giants in San Francisco. Chris Paddack is set to face Tyler Beede for the Giants at 6:45 PM PDT. They then play Colorado in a four-game set in Denver before heading back to San Diego to face the Brewers.