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Renfroe's pinch-hit grand slam powers Padres

June 3, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Hunter Renfroe only got one at-bat on Sunday afternoon. Boy, did he make it count.Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Renfroe demolished a 1-2 slider from Reds starter Luis Castillo. He sent it off the second level of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building

SAN DIEGO -- Hunter Renfroe only got one at-bat on Sunday afternoon. Boy, did he make it count.
Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Renfroe demolished a 1-2 slider from Reds starter Luis Castillo. He sent it off the second level of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in left field, turning a two-run Padres deficit into a two-run lead. Cory Spangenberg tacked on an eighth-inning solo shot, en route to a 6-3 San Diego victory at Petco Park.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza

Renfroe's towering blast marked the first go-ahead pinch-hit grand slam in the Majors this season -- and the first since September 2015, when Milwaukee's Jason Rogers took the Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal deep. Only seven Padres have done so, and none since Archi Cianfrocco in 1995.
"I knew it was gone as soon as I hit it," Renfroe said. "... I'm swinging the bat well right now, just got to keep it going."

After four scoreless frames, Castillo found himself on the ropes in the bottom of the fifth. Franmil Reyes worked a gritty 10-pitch at-bat, swatting a leadoff single up the middle. Freddy Galvis followed with a perfect bunt hit up the third-base line. Manuel Margot's ensuing nine-pitch walk loaded the bases.
"He handled us for the first four innings," Padres manager Andy Green said. "That at-bat by Franmil locked us in a little bit there. It got us going."
With the bases loaded, Raffy Lopez bounced into a forceout at the plate, setting the stage for Renfroe, who has been excellent since returning from right elbow inflammation.

Renfroe has been particularly effective against right-handed pitching -- in stark contrast to his past performance. Since he was activated from the DL on Monday, Renfroe has 12 plate appearances against righties. He has seven hits -- including two doubles and a homer -- and two walks.
"He's made an adjustment," Green said. "Especially against righties, he's opened up a little bit. He clearly sees the ball better right now, is a little more comfortable in that setting. That's good to see. That adjustment seems to be paying dividends right now."
Renfroe's grand slam made a winner out of Tyson Ross, who worked five innings of two-run ball before his spot in the batting order came up in the fifth. Ross allowed seven hits and struck out three.

With the heart of the Reds order due up in the eighth, Green called on closer Brad Hand one inning early. He figured the lefty Hand was the best matchup for lefties Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett. Setup man Kirby Yates handled the ninth.
"We pay attention to the lineup," Yates said, "and we expect anything."

The strategy worked, but not without a few hiccups. Hand surrendered a solo homer to Gennett, and Yates ran into some trouble of his own. Jesse Winker and Tucker Barnhart each hit two-out singles, bringing Votto to the plate as the tying run. But Yates got him to bounce to second on a check swing, ending the game.
"It made sense today with those two guys coming up," Green said. "They swung the lineup on us and got back to Votto, but Kirby did a nice job retiring him to end it." 

Tacking on: An inning after Renfroe's heroics, Reyes started yet another rally with a base hit. He advanced to second on Galvis' groundout, and Reds manager Jim Riggleman opted to walk Margot in favor of the lefty-hitting Lopez. The logic seemed sound enough: Lopez was in a 2-for-24 rut, and the Reds had left-hander Wandy Peralta on the mound. But Lopez snuck an RBI single up the middle, giving the Padres a 5-2 lead.

Golden glove:Eric Hosmer went 3-for-4 on Sunday, but his biggest contribution came in the ninth. After Scott Schebler led off the frame with a single, Billy Hamilton hit a slow chopper to first base. Hosmer quickly assessed the situation and realized there would be no chance to double up the speedy Hamilton on a return throw from second. Instead, he had the presence of mind to step on first and deliver a perfect strike to Galvis, who applied the tag for a double play.
"That's a huge play," Yates said. "He's an above-average baseball player for a reason, and it doesn't have to do with catching the ball, throwing the ball. He's baseball savvy. There's some bearings spinning in that brain where he's ahead of the game a little bit."
Added Green: "I wouldn't think another first baseman in the game makes that play."

Hand's slider is one of the sport's premier pitches -- especially against left-handers. Somehow, Gennett has managed to solve it -- twice. Over the past two seasons, lefty batters have hit just two home runs against Hand's slider, according to Statcast™. Gennett has both of them -- including a grand slam last Aug. 10 in Cincinnati.

"Anybody that's ever doubted him has probably learned not to doubt him. Those kinds of challenges, he's risen up and met. We're thrilled with his response to how the season started." -- Green on Renfroe

Clayton Richard has struggled against NL West opposition this year, but he's been excellent against everyone else. There's little explanation for those splits, but Richard wouldn't mind for that trend to continue Monday. The Padres open a three-game home series with the Braves, and Richard gets the ball at 7:10 p.m. PT. Atlanta counters with Julio Teheran.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.