Courtesy of Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres finally had a sign of life. With one emphatic swing, the wunderkind got San Diego on the scoreboard in the seventh inning with an awe-inspiring, second-deck blast against the Mets at Citi Field on Saturday. The struggling offense finally had a run. Upon returning to the dugout, Tatis would don the team’s Swag Chain.
But this was not a moment for pomp and circumstance.
As Tatis watched his solo shot sail over the fence, he looked more frustrated than excited. Instead of flipping his bat, he discarded it, almost in disgust. When Tatis began to make his way down the line, he looked down at the dirt and shook his head.
It was a scene that summarized the Padres’ fourth straight loss, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Mets, one in which the offense was, again, silent.
“Right now, we’ve got to weather this storm offensively,” said manager Jayce Tingler. “It’s not easy. We got to keep battling. We got to weather this, and it’s gonna turn.”
The storm that is currently engulfing San Diego has been rocky. The Padres have lost 10 of their last 13 games and had a four-game losing streak from May 30-June 2. During its current four-game skid, San Diego has scored just five runs. In a season that has been filled with offensive lowlights, this current funk is the team’s nadir.
Tingler expressed confidence that San Diego will turn things around, citing the team’s talent, as well as its level of preparation. Among that talent is Trent Grisham, who caught a flight early Saturday morning to return to the lineup for the first time since May 21. Grisham flashed a bit of his two-way skill, drawing a walk and making a tough running catch look textbook.
With Grisham back in the fold and catcher Austin Nola inching towards his return, the Padres are close to once again boasting their full array of talent. Still, the Padres cannot afford to wait for everything to fall into place. Not when they play in a division that features the Dodgers and Giants. On paper, the Padres have plenty of time to get things right. Yet, they’re focused on the now.
“Mathematically, you’re right [that there is time to turn it around], but at the same time, there’s a sense of urgency,” Tingler said. “We want to be a group that continues to improve, and right now, we’re in a bit of a lull and we need to get it going where we’re clicking on all cylinders.”
While the offense has been a concern, Joe Musgrove has been a steadying presence. Musgrove provided San Diego with another quality start, allowing three runs across 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk, a statline that is all the more impressive given how his outing began.
Musgrove began his afternoon by losing Jonathan Villar on an 0-2 count, plunking the lefty in the elbow. On the next pitch, Musgrove left a fastball in Francisco Lindor’s wheelhouse, and the All-Star shortstop promptly sent it over the right-center-field fence. Two batters in and the Mets had two runs.
For some pitchers, that type of beginning might derail an entire outing. Instead, Musgrove found his footing, etching out a solid outing. At one point, Musgrove struck out five straight and retired 12 in a row. If the offense was clicking, a start like that would put San Diego in line for a win.
Unfortunately for the struggling bats, on the other side was Marcus Stroman. Like Jacob deGrom, Stroman shut down San Diego’s offense, allowing just the Tatis solo home run across 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts. The only Padres batter who could figure out Stroman, aside from Tatis, was Tommy Pham, who had three singles and a stolen base. Suffice it to say, San Diego will need more than just two bats to be clicking.
If San Diego wants to avoid its longest losing streak of the year, it’ll need the offense to emerge from its slumber. The talent is unquestioned. But right now, it’s just a matter of execution.
“Right now, just as a group and a whole, we’re scuffling a bit,” Tingler said. “These are the challenges in the season. Nothing’s gonna get easy. Nothing’s gonna be easy. And we’ve got to embrace those and find a way to fight through and grind through.
“We gotta get this thing turned.”