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Padres Daily: Not a playoff game; DH day for Manny; Latte launch

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Hello from Los Angeles,

Its good.

Yes, the Padres are 1-2 with the trio of new bats in their lineup. They were beaten by the Dodgers last night.

It would be easy to look at the 8-1 result and say nothing has changed.

The optics weren’t great.

It wasn’t very pleasant, manager Bob Melvin said in my game story (here).

But any expectation that it would be a statement game was misguided not because the Padres couldn’t win last night, but simply because they didn’t put themselves in the best position to do so.

Simply put, the Padres aren’t treating this as a playoff series. (Neither did the Dodgers.)

If this was a playoff, Manny Machado would have been on third base and Sean Manaea would not have started Game 1.

Unless he pitches much more consistently over the next two months than he has over the past two, Manaea likely won’t start in the playoffs at all.

Melvin was asked before last night’s game about the significance of what the series would reveal given that neither team was fielding their best starters to pitch.

As for our rotation, Melvin said in his response, we feel good with all five guys.

It was the manager’s speech. Melvin wasn’t lying by any means, but he certainly wasn’t telling the whole story. And given that it’s early August, there’s no reason to push him on the subject yet.

But Manaea has work to do if he is to be part of a playoff rotation.

And that was really the only takeaway from a bad game for the Padres.

The Dodgers just might turn out to be even better than the Padres when it really matters. But last night provided little information on whether that will be the case.

The Padres could certainly have done more offensively, and their third base backup didn’t do Manaea any favors in the first inning.

But this one escaped early, as Manaea allowed four runs in the first inning and four more in the third. The eight points tied a career high, setting his 2016 rookie season.

And as good as Manaea was at times, last night wasn’t so shocking because of how bad Manaea was at times.

First, let’s remember that the left-hander acquired by trade four days before the season opener was a crucial part of the rotation. He has 14 quality starts. The innings he provided (114 of them, more than all but 23 pitchers in the National League) were invaluable in saving the bullpen from extra work.

But last night was the fifth time Manaea allowed at least four runs in under five innings.

Of the 16 other pitchers with 14 quality starts, only Philadelphia’s Zach Wheeler (with two) has more than one such short and generous start.

Manaea has gone at least six innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs in five of his last nine starts. But the other departures in this streak are troubling.

Sean Manaea's last nine starts

What last night did was clarify that the next eight or nine starts for each of the Padres’ rotation pitchers will be to see who the team will field to be part of the rotation at the start of the playoffs.

The Padres, 13 games out of first place, look destined to play a wild card streak. In their current position, they would face the Braves in a best-of-three series played entirely in Atlanta.

The winner of this series would face the Dodgers.

And Manaea, who allowed 15 runs (14 earned) in 8 1/3 innings in two starts against the Dodgers, almost certainly wouldn’t be on the mound to start one of those games.

Fill for a reason

Machado is the designated hitter on some nights now, so he can be third baseman every night in October.

Machado has started at third base in seven of eight games leading up to yesterday, including four of five against the Rockies Monday-Thursday.

We played five games in four days, Melvin said. He got a DH (game) in the doubleheader. He still takes care of the ankle a bit. So we have guys we can get into the game now and give him a day off.

As Machado took time off serving as DH last night, Brandon Drury started in his place at third base. And in the first inning he made a pitching error that gave Will Smith extra base on his infield single and then didn’t make a play that Machado could (probably) have made on what’s became the two-point double of Hanser Albertos.

Drury, who started at second base Thursday and designated hitter in his debut for the Padres on Wednesday, has started more games at third base in his career than any other position.

Some help

The Padres felt they were on the verge of another big first inning. And they felt that plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt had taken that chance away from them.

This is explained in my game history (here), with quotes about it from Machado and Melvin.

They didn’t blame Wendelstedt for the loss. But he was practically the extra Dodger last night.

Machados’ two strikeouts ended on grounds outside the zone called strikes, as did Ha-Seong Kims’ two strikeouts, including one that ended the third inning with Drury at second base.

In all, Wendelstedt missed 16 calls, either balls called strikes or strikes called balls. Of those, 12 went against the Padres.

So, you know, MLB will disagree that Wendelstedt missed that many calls. At least six of his misses were on 50/50 balls, and he will be classified as having gotten the correct ones.

It’s hard to believe that the statement in this tweet is entirely true. But the photos provide insight into Wendelstedt’s challenges in interpreting the area.

Pitcher versus pitcher

Rookie Matthew Batten pitched the eighth inning, throwing six of his first 12 pitches under 50 mph before stepping it up a bit to get his first career strikeout against Dodgers pitcher Tyler Anderson.

After Cody Bellinger flew out, Joey Gallo fielded a single and Trea Turner flew out, Anderson hit for first baseman Freddie Freeman. After watching a ball and a called strike, Anderson took good cuts, ending up hitting a pitch of 53.6 mph.

I didn’t want to put one of our positional players there against a softball player, basically, throw that ball eephus, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. I was hoping Tyler wouldn’t swing the bat, but I guess competitive juices (got it).

It was the second time Batten had pitched this season. Wil Myers also pitched once.

Small bites

  • Juan Soto was 1 for 3 last night and hit safely in all three games he played for the Padres. He’s 4 for 11 with two walks. He has reached base at least once via hit, walk or pitch in 11 consecutive games and has a .500 on-base percentage during that span. (That’s just 90 points higher than his OBP season.)
  • Josh Bell went 1 for 3 with a walk last night and is 3 for 8 with four walks in three games for the Padres.
  • Drury was 0-for-2 with a walk and reached base in all three games for the Padres.
  • Trent Grisham went 0 for 3 with a walk to extend his scoring streak to 12 games.
  • Jurickson Profar had two 10-pitch at bats last night, both of which resulted in lineouts against Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin. Profar is tied with four others for the major league lead with six plate appearances that lasted at least 10 pitches.
  • Nomar Mazara hit .292 with a .740 OPS in his first 41 games with the Padres. He’s batting .160 (4-for-25) with a .392 OPS in his last nine games.
  • Soto was cheered on at All-Star festivities at Dodger Stadium last month. And when he played here with the Nationals a few weeks ago, many in the crowd chanted Future Dodger. But he was booed loudly every time his name was announced last night, though not as loudly as the usual welcome for Machado.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr. hit against the live pitch here yesterday afternoon, then headed to the airport for a flight to San Antonio. Jeff Sanders’ notebook (here) explains Tatis’ plan in his rehab mission. There are also other injury updates, including good news on Robert Suarez and bad news expected on Austin Adams.
  • Soto and Turner, former Nationals teammates, spent time talking during the game. Said Turner: I told him he looked terrible in brown.

Alright, that’s it for me. Speak to you tomorrow.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/padres/newsletter/2022-08-06/padres-daily-sean-manaea-dodgers-playoffs-manny-machado-fernando-tatis-juan-soto-brandon-drury-padres-daily

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