'Makina' stars at plate, struggles on mound

August 24th, 2017

ST. LOUIS -- never quite found a rhythm on the mound like he did at the plate Wednesday. Indeed, it was that kind of a strange night for the Padres right-hander.
In San Diego's 6-2 loss to the Cardinals, Chacin -- who will go by the nickname "Makina" for Players Weekend from Friday-Sunday -- pounded out a pair of hits, as he continues his push for a Silver Slugger Award.
But it's not in Chacin's job description to hit. He's paid to pitch. And on that front, the veteran right-hander struggled with his command in a big way.
He tied a Major League record with four hit batters, and he lasted only 4 2/3 innings. Chacin allowed five runs (four earned), and he permitted seven Cardinals to reach base without needing a hit to do so (including three walks).
"That was really weird for me," Chacin said. "I've never hit that many batters. It's just that my ball was moving crazy, especially to righties. ... Just a bad day."

Chacin wasn't particularly sharp through the first four frames. But he came unraveled in the fifth -- in part because of his prior at-bat.
Chacin doubled to the left-center-field gap in the top of the frame. But before he did so, he was jammed on a foul ball for strike two. The sensation lingered in his right hand as he took the mound for the bottom of the frame.
"I couldn't grip my fastball the last inning," Chacin said. "I was trying to get out of that inning throwing a lot of breaking balls. I couldn't."
He walked two Cardinals and plunked two more. In the process, he uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop and appeared to injure his ankle on an attempt to cover home. Afterward, he said he felt fine.

In retrospect, Chacin's inability to grip his fastball should've raised a red flag. Manager Andy Green didn't learn of the ailment until after he had removed Chacin.
"He wanted to keep pitching, because that's the way he's wired," Green said. "It's what you find out after you take a guy out of the ballgame, how he's feeling."
As an all-around performance, Chacin's night was one for the record books.
Major League Baseball has existed for more than a century, and in that regard, there aren't many "firsts" these days.
Most firsts are historic -- as was the case with Dodgers starter Rich Hill in his ill-fated quest for a perfect game in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
But some firsts are merely strange and quirky. That was the case with Chacin, who became the first pitcher in history to notch two hits and plunk four batters in the same game.
As for his Silver Slugger pursuit, Chacin's 12 hits are one behind for tops among pitchers. The award, given to the best hitter at each position, is uncharted territory for him.
"I don't even know how that works," Chacin said. "I've never been in that conversation before."