Tatis' slam caps SD's 9-0 homestand

May 24th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- took two steps and watched for a moment as his second career grand slam carried toward the shrubs adjacent to the Petco Park batter’s eye -- 447 feet from home plate.

When it became clear the baseball was leaving the yard -- and clear the Padres were about to complete the second 9-0 homestand in franchise history -- Tatis unleashed a pinwheel-style bat flip, while the ballpark whipped into a frenzy around him. Moments later, after he’d stutter-stepped around third base and stomped on home plate, Tatis reached the top step of his dugout and was adorned with a golden chain, emblazoned with an interlocking S.D.

Been that kind of week for Tatis.

Been that kind of homestand for the Padres -- the first team to 30 wins, owners of the best record in baseball.

After sweeping the Rockies and Cardinals, San Diego capped its perfect homestand with a 9-2 victory over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon. They’re the first team with a perfect homestand of at least nine games since the Mets went 10-0 in April 2015. The Padres themselves haven’t done so since '09.

“The big thing is, it’s not one guy,” Tatis said. “The entire team is putting the small pieces together, and we’re playing great baseball.”

OK, sure, it isn’t just one guy. The Padres have gotten contributions from up and down their lineup during this nine-game winning streak, and Tatis’ humility is surely appreciated by his teammates. But, uh, there’s definitely one guy doing the heavy lifting.

Tatis’ grand slam on Sunday was his second home run of the game. In the second inning, he launched a 441-foot moonshot off the facing of the second deck in left field for his 200th career hit. In just 173 games, he’s the fastest Padre ever to achieve that milestone. Tatis finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk.

Since he returned from the injured list on Wednesday, Tatis has been perhaps as hot as he’s ever been -- and that’s saying something. He’s 11-for-14 with four homers, three walks and three steals. Remember that slow start? It feels like ancient history.

“He looks so under control,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “He’s on fastballs. He’s on breaking balls. He’s not trying to do too much, and he’s finishing with balance.”

It was Tatis, of course, who famously gave birth to “Slam Diego” last August with his grand slam in Texas on a 3-0 pitch. The Padres launched grand slams in four straight games, becoming the first team in Major League history to do so. Sunday afternoon marked Tatis’ first grand slam since -- and the Padres’ second this season.

"Slam Diego" is alive and well.

After Tommy Pham tripled with one out in the seventh, Jurickson Profar walked and Jake Cronenworth reached on a catcher’s interference. That left Mariners reliever Robert Dugger with nowhere to put Tatis. When he fell behind, 1-0, he grooved a middle-middle fastball. Tatis made no mistake.

“Got a good pitch, and I just put the barrel on it,” Tatis said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Ten days ago, the Padres returned home ahead of an important road trip with serious question marks about how they’d handle the absences of five key offensive contributors -- Tatis included -- who had landed on the IL for COVID-19-related reasons.

They handled it just fine. They didn’t lose a game.

Now, with Wil Myers back in the fold, all five of those players have returned. Who knows what the Padres are capable of at full strength? It might look an awful lot like it did on Sunday.

On the mound, Yu Darvish was his usual dominant self. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball, lowering his ERA to 1.75. The Padres have won nine of his 10 starts this season. Meanwhile, the top of San Diego's lineup continues to set the table for Tatis, who has thrived since he was moved into the cleanup spot upon his return.

“He can hit anywhere in the lineup,” Tingler said. “I just like the idea of -- when everybody’s going -- just the full extension of the lineup, and how it flows.”

As for the chain, it was a concoction of Manny Machado, who ordered it custom-made two months ago. It arrived this weekend, and the Padres are already putting it to good use.

“Oh man, it’s amazing, we’re so showy,” Tatis told Bally Sports San Diego after the game. “We play good, and we deserve to look good.”

Play good, look good -- these days, Tatis and the Padres are doing both.