Machado drama fizzles; Tatis juggles streaks

June 7th, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- The announcement hadn’t even been made, and Petco Park already had come to life. There was , presumed to be unavailable for the series opener against the Diamondbacks on Thursday night, striding from the on-deck circle to home plate.

The Padres trailed by a run with two outs in the eighth inning, they had the tying and go-ahead runs aboard, and Machado had recently informed manager Mike Shildt that he was good for an at-bat, despite a strained right hip flexor he sustained one night earlier.

Alas, there would be no storybook finish, no Gibsonian drama. Machado bounced harmlessly back to the mound. An inning later, when Jake Cronenworth struck out looking on a pitch that appeared well outside, the Padres had lost their fifth straight game, 4-3.

“We’ve got to keep grinding,” right fielder said. "We’re putting together good at-bats collectively. We didn’t have a few calls go our way for the guys behind me. It’s a hard one to swallow.”

With hits in his first three trips to the plate on Thursday, Tatis tied a franchise record by hitting in eight consecutive at-bats. He joined Dave Winfield, Tony Gwynn, Brian Giles and Kevin Kouzmanoff (twice) as the only Padres to ever do so.

Tatis also has a 12-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the Majors and two shy of his career best.

After the game, Tatis resolved that things would turn for the Padres. He cited their fight back from an early 3-0 deficit -- and, of course, that one of their best players seems unlikely to land on the injured list.

“Manny’s a unique player,” Tatis said. “Every time he’s on the field, he can do something special. Him coming through that way -- he didn’t get the result -- but it’s a good sign that he’s close to being back.”

Shildt noted that Machado is unlikely to start on Friday as he deals with the effects of the injury he suffered while running hard to beat out a double play on Wednesday in Anaheim.

“We’ve got to wait and see; it’s day to day,” Shildt said. “I wouldn’t expect him to be in there tomorrow. But it says a lot about him. That’s what fires me up about this club.”

Machado received treatment throughout the afternoon, and for most of the day it seemed unlikely he would be available. The more pressing question seemed to be whether Machado would require a stint on the IL.

Instead, Machado informed Shildt that he was ready to take an at-bat, if needed. Shildt checked with the training staff, who told him that was OK -- but that Machado couldn’t run. Shildt decided to roll the dice, planning to pinch-run for Machado with Luis Campusano, one of the team’s slowest runners, if need be.

“He was ready to take an at-bat, clearly compromised to run,” Shildt said. “... That just says a lot about his willingness to go up there.”

The Padres found themselves in that 3-0 hole after starter Randy Vásquez surrendered back-to-back home runs in the second inning. But Vásquez did not allow another run, as he settled in for 6 2/3 quality innings, the longest start of his career.

The Padres fought their way back in the fifth. Kyle Higashioka homered, before Tatis notched his eighth straight hit and eventually scored the tying run on Cronenworth’s bloop double and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s ensuing errant throw, which hit Tatis as he slid into third base and kicked away.

Ketel Marte’s go-ahead single in the seventh set the stage for the late drama. When Machado grounded out to end the eighth, the Padres still had the top of their order for the ninth.

Luis Arraez and Tatis flied to right -- Tatis sending Jake McCarthy all the way to the wall. But Jurickson Profar worked a walk against D-backs closer Paul Sewald, and Cronenworth battled for seven pitches, believing he’d worked the count from 0-2 to 3-2. That’s when home-plate ump Erich Bacchus rung him up.

“It was a ball,” Cronenworth said. “I don’t even know what to say, took the bat out of my hands at the end of the game.”

Added Shildt: “You’d like to have a chance to actually end the game on your own terms. I respect the umpiring profession highly, and I don’t complain a lot. But I’ve got guys busting their [butts] all night, got a guy with a mild strain in his hip flexor willing to take an at-bat. … Again, we lost, I’ll take ownership of that. I don’t want to blame anybody. But that’s a bad way to end a ballgame.”