Machado's clutch HR 'absolutely annihilated'

April 6th, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Six weeks ago, the Padres paid a franchise-record sum, because he’s capable of doing things that most other baseball players can’t do.

Take Saturday for example. He turned around an ankle-high slider from Andrew Miller and sent a 110-mph rocket over the left-field fence, breaking open a one-run game at Busch Stadium.

Machado’s two-run blast proved decisive, as the Padres came from behind in a 6-4 victory in St. Louis. It capped a late rally that also featured pivotal home runs from and before Machado went deep for the second time in three games.

“Everyone here was already here, and I'm just enjoying the ride to be here and be a part of it,” Machado said. “I know it's still early, but if we keep this going, keep having fun, a lot of great things could happen with this team.”

Since the start of his Padres tenure, Machado’s elite glove has been on full display. It took some time for his bat to heat up. But the superstar third baseman now has hits in his last five games, and he’s reached base in 13 of 24 plate appearances in that stretch.

Opposing pitchers have done their best to work around Machado, who has taken seven walks in those five games. He’s been more than happy to pass the baton, particularly with the rest of the Padres' offense coming to life.

“It's going to take all 25 of us to win,” said Machado. “I'm not going to carry the team by myself, or Hoz, or [Ian Kinsler]. It's going to take all of us.”

For all the patience he’s shown, Machado has still made opposing pitchers pay for two pitches that weren’t eminently hittable. Machado’s first homer came on Wednesday when Matt Andriese threw a fastball four inches off the inside corner. Then he got to Miller on Saturday.

“I tried to throw one below the zone,” Miller said. “He went down and got it. Great hitter.”

In the early innings, the Padres couldn’t break through against St. Louis starter , who surrendered a career-high eight walks. They missed a number of opportunities before falling behind 3-1 in the sixth on 's second-deck, two-run homer.

But when the Cardinals went to their bullpen, the San Diego bats came to life. Hosmer cut the deficit in half in the seventh with a solo shot to left, his first of the season. Then Hedges sent a 3-2 fastball from Miller into the San Diego bullpen for a two-run shot to put the Padres in front.

“What makes the lineup so good is any guy can beat you on any day,” Hosmer said.

Hedges’ homer came after had worked a leadoff walk to open the frame. Machado’s blast followed a walk to Kinsler. It came off his bat as a low line drive, barely clearing the left-field wall. Busch Stadium went quiet, as the Padres’ dugout erupted.

“He's a stud,” Hedges said of Machado. “It doesn't surprise me. I expect him to hit a barrel every at-bat. I can't imagine how hard it is when teams are just constantly pitching around you. The second you get that mistake, he just doesn't miss it.”

“He's had good at-bats the whole time he's been here,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “This series has been really good. He got the Miller slider coming in to him, and he absolutely annihilated it. It's a pretty swing.”

The Padres can pencil that pretty swing into the heart of their lineup for a long time.

Cards make Paddack work

Not that it ever was, but Chris Paddack sure made it look easy during his brilliant Minor League career. His strikeout numbers were absurd, and his walk rate was even more impressive. Paddack, in no uncertain terms, owned the strike zone.

But big league hitters have posed a big league challenge to the 23-year-old right-hander who made the jump from Double-A into the rotation this season. Paddack lasted only 3 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon, and he needed 89 pitches to get there. He walked four hitters -- half as many as he walked in 17 Minor League starts combined in 2018.

“It wasn’t my A-plus game today,” Paddack said. “But I did learn a lot.”

It may not have been his "A-plus" game, but Paddack still allowed only one run, and it was unearned. The Cardinals had serious trouble squaring him up, but they still made him work, fouling off 29 of his 89 pitches. Paddack’s changeup, one of the best putaway pitches in the Minor Leagues over the past few seasons, induced only three swinging strikes and 11 fouls.

“It was a battle for Paddack today,” Green said. “We have tons of confidence in him, I think everyone in the organization does. It was just one of those days where they fouled off a lot of his pitches, and there was probably a little less attack early on than he could have had with his fastball.”


San Diego’s 6-3 start is its best since 2009. Hedges, who was drafted in ‘11, has been in the organization longer than any other player, and he summed up the first nine games of the season rather succinctly:

“It’s incredible,” he said. “Everything about this club is something that I’m not used to, but I could definitely get used to.”

Surely, Padres fans everywhere are nodding in agreement.


 opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning -- a 110-mph rocket, according to Statcast, into the left-field corner. Like his go-ahead pinch-hit homer on Friday, it also came on the first pitch. Renfroe, who went 2-for-3 with two walks, has now authored three of the Padres’ four hardest-hit baseballs this season.

 was removed from the game in the fifth inning with a sore right elbow. Last season, Cordero was shut down in May because of bone spurs in that same elbow. He would later undergo season-ending surgery. The Padres called Saturday’s removal “precautionary.”

, who was drafted by San Diego in 2011 then traded to Atlanta in the Craig Kimbrel deal, picked up the win in his first game with the Padres. He pitched scoreless ball in the sixth and seventh, keeping the game within reach before the offense broke out.