Reyes, Renfroe power up to back Lucchesi
Left-handed starter allows 1 run, strikes out 5 in 6 1/3 innings
SAN DIEGO -- In the first five decades of the franchise’s existence, only four Padres hitters ever went deep at least 40 times in a season.
In 2019 alone, San Diego has two corner outfielders on precisely that pace.
Franmil Reyes and Hunter Renfroe both homered on Friday night, providing the early offense as the Padres beat the Marlins 5-2. Reyes’ homer was a first-inning missile into the second row, his 16th of the year. Renfroe’s was a towering fourth-inning moonshot, his 15th.
The contrasting nature of the two home runs underscores the ridiculous power between Reyes and Renfroe as Marlins starter Caleb Smith had both hitters off-balance. It didn’t matter in the slightest.
“Both of those guys can miss pitches and hit 'em out of the yard,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “In both of their cases, just getting the barrel to the baseball turns into really, really good things. They don't have to try to hit home runs. They're going to hit them all the time if they just get the barrel to the ball.”
The scariest part? Renfroe and Reyes are under team control for the next four and five seasons, respectively. In theory, they could bring the thump in San Diego for a long, long time. No Padres hitter has recorded 40 homers since Adrian Gonzalez in 2009, with Phil Nevin, Greg Vaughn and Ken Caminiti being the other members of that club.
Reyes and Renfroe come from decidedly different backgrounds. Renfroe is from Mississippi, a former first-round Draft pick and once a highly touted prospect. Reyes grew up in the Dominican Republic and never cracked the team's top 30 prospects list.
They're both strong though, and they both destroy baseballs on a regular basis. It’s also clear that they love watching each other rake.
“His power’s freaking huge,” Renfroe said of Reyes. “It’s a lot of fun to watch him.”
“It makes me even more happy seeing him do what he did, too,” Reyes said of Renfroe.
A season ago, with Wil Myers injured, Renfroe and Reyes began getting regular at-bats together in the Padres' lineup for the first time. They quickly became the team's two most reliable offensive weapons.
That didn't guarantee them anything entering 2019. Renfroe and Reyes would have to prove their chops for a bit longer if they were to become the team's anchors in the outfield corners.
Well, they're proving it. Renfroe leads the team with his .898 OPS. Reyes, at .861, is on his heels in second. The team has since reshuffled its outfield to allow for those two to play everyday. Myers regularly starts in center, before one of the three gives way to Manuel Margot as a late-inning replacement.
That's precisely how Friday night unfolded. First, Smith left a slider over the middle of the plate, and Reyes hit it into the left-field seats at 111-mph. Three innings later, he threw a changeup that got Renfroe on his front foot. It still landed in the second level of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building.
“They've got a lot of power that you have to respect, and you have to pay attention to,” Green said. “Those guys have hit a lot of baseballs really hard for us. That's about as much power as any corner-outfield combo has right now.”
Left-hander Joey Lucchesi shouldered most of the burden from there. He was excellent over 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, allowing just two hits while striking out five. When Lucchesi’s night was done, Green double-switched Margot into the game in place of Renfroe.
On his way to the dugout, Renfroe found Reyes in short right field. The two hulking corner outfielders high-fived their way into a bear hug.
Another night. Another pair of dingers. Another Padres victory.
Renfroe and Reyes are becoming quite the power couple.