Hot-hitting Padres cruise to win over Giants

Pirela, Villanueva lead offense in backing Lucchesi's strong start

April 15th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres played without the top three hitters in their Opening Day lineup this weekend against San Francisco. But the way and are swinging the bats, it didn't seem to matter.

and are on the disabled list, and was scratched with an ailing back. But the Padres rode another homer from Villanueva and three more hits from Pirela -- the Major League leader -- to a 10-1 victory over the Giants on Sunday afternoon.

"We knew we had depth," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's nice to see the depth play well; we've needed every last body we have."

Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi turned in his best performance yet, striking out nine and allowing one run over six innings as he lowered his ERA to 1.66 since his callup on the season's second day.

The Giants got on the board in the second when 's sacrifice fly plated Nick Hundley. But the Padres responded emphatically, scoring in each of the next five frames. Villanueva doubled home two in the third inning, and three players notched RBIs in a three-run fourth.

In the fifth, Giants manager Bruce Bochy made the curious decision to use lefty reliever Josh Osich against Villanueva, who has a history of demolishing left-handed pitching. Villanueva sent the first pitch he saw into the lowest level of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Following his three-homer performance on April 3, Villanueva had fallen into a bit of a funk. Green mulled that his third baseman "started swinging at absolutely everything," perhaps resulting from his historic day of swinging. Over the past few games, however, Green noticed a more selective Villanueva, who now has two homers in as many games and five on the season.

"It's nice to see him settled, trusting himself," Green said. "He can hit, he's just got to be patient."

Pirela, meanwhile, finished a homer shy of a cycle with three hits, three runs and three RBIs. He doubled in the fourth, singled in the sixth and put the game on ice with a two-run triple in the seventh.

"Think about it," Pirela said. "We're playing without Hosmer, one of the best hitters on our team. We're playing without Wil, who is unbelievable. We're playing without Margot, who's our leadoff hitter. It speaks a lot to the depth we have on this team."

On Monday, the Padres welcome the Dodgers to town for a three-game set. For the first time since 2013, they'll do so while sitting above their Southern California rivals in the standings at the start of a series between the two.


Galvanizing the offense: With two outs and nobody on base in the third, a familiar catalyst got things started for the Padres. -- who is reaching base at a .435 clip this season -- worked his way back from a 1-2 count for the first of his career-high three walks. Two pitches later, the Padres had a lead. singled, and Villanueva doubled them home -- both first-pitch hacks.

Trouble with the churve: Lucchesi throws an offspeed pitch that's a unique mix between a changeup and a curveball. He holds it like a changeup. But he spins it almost like a breaking ball. He calls it "the churve," and it's his most effective pitch. With two on and two outs in the fourth, Lucchesi froze Belt with a 3-2 offering, striking out the side and preserving a one-run lead.


Villanueva's home run left his bat with an exit velocity of 110 mph, the hardest-hit baseball Statcast™ has tracked in his brief big league career. The second hardest came Saturday, when Villanueva launched a 108 mph dinger. Only Cordero has a higher exit velocity on a home run by a Padres player this season.


"That's the making of a good team. It's such a long season, there are going to be times where guys are down, guys are nicked and banged up. It really does take that full 25-man roster with everyone doing their role to be successful." -- Hosmer


Left-hander Robbie Erlin will replace the suspended for Monday night's game against the Dodgers at 7:10 p.m. PT at Petco Park. It's the first meeting of the season between the two clubs. Fellow southpaw starts for Los Angeles, meaning and Villanueva -- who have crushed lefty pitching -- are expected in the starting lineup.