'Quite a roll': Snell continues dominant run

August 14th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- On another gorgeous Sunday in the nation’s capital, left-hander  continued his lights-out pitching and  added three timely hits as the Padres rolled to a 6-0 victory over last-place Washington at Nationals Park.

San Diego extended its National League Wild Card lead over the Brewers in winning two out of three over the Nationals, capped by its first shutout since a 4-0 win over the D-backs on June 29.

The Nationals managed three baserunners -- all on singles -- against Snell. The southpaw is an all-in focused hurler, walking around the visitor’s clubhouse in full uniform 2 1/2 hours prior to first pitch.

Then Snell went out and pitched, cruising through six innings of scoreless ball, allowing three hits and no walks and striking out 10 -- his third double-digit strikeout performance in 15 starts. At one point, he retired 13 in a row, mixing the fastball, slider and curve.

"It was kind of hard,” Snell said. “I was trying to figure out their lineup, honestly. Once I had an understanding of what they could or couldn't do after facing them, I started to figure some things out. Still got a lot to learn with them. So excited I get to play them again. Get to learn from what I did right, wrong and how I'm going to attack them next time. Definitely looking forward to that."

Snell has allowed one or fewer earned runs in seven of his past eight starts. He has thrown 103 pitches in each of his past two and won five of his past six decisions.

"He is on quite a roll,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “Ever since he has gotten deep into the games, found the strike zone early in the count, no walks today, 10 strikeouts. Only [thing] that kept him from going out for the seventh was the pitch count because of the strikeouts. So he has been as effective a guy as we have had here, if not the best, in the last month, month and a half."

Snell’s splits of rough first half vs. great second have continued for a couple of seasons now. Last year, Snell went 3-3 with a 4.99 ERA prior to the All-Star break, then 4-3 with a 3.24 ERA for the rest of the season. This season, a similar pattern: 1-5 with a 5.22 ERA before the All-Star break, 4-1 with a 0.94 ERA since.

"I know who I am on this team,” Snell said. “I know what I need to do. I know what I need to not do. Just understand myself better. For me it is simple, because I know me really well. For you guys, it's probably going to be tough. I think the biggest thing is just [that] I am comfortable. I know who I am now on this team and what I need to do to be ready every fifth day. Just comforting."

Melvin believes this second-half surge can pay big dividends for Snell and the club as it fights for the top spot in the NL Wild Card race.

"It is similar to last year, if you look at the numbers,” Melvin said of Snell’s splits. “[He] had a tough first half, and second half, he was there. [If] he keeps pitching like this, he's going to gain more and more confidence as he goes along, and [he] should. Because really, all his pitches now are getting swings and misses, and all of them are looking like they are in the strike zone.”

The Padres’ offense taxed Nationals starter Paolo Espino into a season-high 109 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, netting at least one hit in five of the first six frames. Myers contributed two singles and a double with two RBIs. It was his first three-hit game since May 22 at San Francisco.

Myers and Manny Machado each contributed a pair of RBIs and combined for five hits.

"That was definitely nice,” Myers said. “Obviously to get out there and come through in some spots, which is nice. It was good to get the name called and come out there and produce. Good game."

Myers has reached base in 17 of his past 24 games, with at least one hit in 15 of those.

Former Nationals star Juan Soto reached base four times in his final game this season at Nationals Park, with a single and a run scored in the third and two walks.

The Padres now head to Miami for another series they will be favored to win, continuing their quest toward a postseason berth but without their All-Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who will not return this season. They know they must win the series they are supposed to win, including this weekend’s in D.C., which Melvin thought they could have swept.

"I think more than anything … losing [Saturday] night's game didn't sit very well,” Melvin said. “We had to deal with the day before, ended up playing a good game and getting a win. But I think more than anything, it was yesterday's game that we were a little upset that we didn't come away with the win. So it was nice to get a lead, add on some and have a little bit of less drama [in the] ninth inning than maybe we have been."