SD 'needed this one,' so Manny homered 2x

July 4th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- The Padres needed this one, and made darn sure they got it.

Before the Phillies stopped pitching to him, that is.

Machado and the Padres endured a brutal six-game road trip through Cincinnati and Philadelphia this week, featuring a total of six rain delays spanning nearly seven hours. But even after three straight losses, they had a chance to wrap up a .500 road trip on Sunday afternoon.

Cue Machado, who homered twice to account for the first five Padres runs in a necessary and welcome 11-1 blowout victory at Citizens Bank Park.

“We needed this one big time,” Machado said. “Now we get to go home and finish off the first half with a bang. So it was a huge win for us today.”

Machado’s big day sent the Padres on their way to a happy flight back across the country, where they’re slated for a seven-game homestand to wrap up the first half against the Nationals and Rockies. But he never got a chance for a third home run.

Machado was intentionally walked in each of his next two trips to the plate, then unintentionally walked in the ninth -- though it was clear the Phillies wanted nothing to do with him.

“He’s seeing the ball really well,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “I probably would’ve done the same thing.”

No, Machado was not selected to the National League All-Star team, which was unveiled on Sunday evening (though four of his teammates are headed to Colorado, the largest contingent in the National League). He certainly has the credentials, with 15 homers and an .828 OPS. Rosters were finalized prior to Sunday’s games, and perhaps with an extra day to make his case, he would have been chosen.

Ultimately, Machado’s slow start cost him. But right now, that slow start feels like ancient history. Since the beginning of June, he’s hitting .317 with nine home runs, and the Padres’ offense has come to life as a result.

When Machado gets hot at the plate, Tingler likes to say he gets “lava hot.” Machado, indeed, is lava hot once again. His two-run homer in the first was his second in as many nights into the batter’s eye in center field. That one went a Statcast-projected 428 feet. His next was a towering 388-foot blast to left-center on a fastball at his eyes -- prompting the Barry Bonds treatment for the rest of the game.

“They keep walking him, and when they don’t, it’s over the fence,” said Padres left-hander Blake Snell. “You can just see the comfort in the at-bat for him.”

Snell gutted his way through four innings, throwing more balls than strikes but somehow keeping the Phillies off the scoreboard. It’s been a particularly brutal road trip for Snell, who felt the effects of food poisoning in Cincinnati and had hardly returned to full strength when he took the mound on Sunday.

“That was all I had,” said Snell, who entered the game with a 10.36 road ERA and instead posted his first scoreless start away from home since last August in Boston.

It was enough. The Padres bullpen held the Phillies in check, before the skies broke loose again in the top of the ninth inning. There would be no delay this time. They played right on through, and the Padres made the most of it.

Eric Hosmer ripped an opposite-field three-run double, and Webster Rivas followed two batters later with a three-run homer. The Padres’ backup catcher returned to the dugout and was adorned with the swag chain, drenched.

“We’re ready to get back to San Diego, where we don’t have to worry about [the rain],” Tingler quipped.

Evidently, Machado had the foresight to avoid it.

Three years ago, during one of baseball’s most intriguing Hot Stove dramas, the Phillies courted Machado. He ended up in San Diego, while fellow prize free-agent Bryce Harper landed in Philadelphia. Machado heard a few boos this weekend, but enjoyed his stay nonetheless.

“Great ballpark to hit,” Machado said. “It was definitely fun going out there and just putting some good swings on it. But thinking about it, I’m blessed to be in San Diego, where there’s no more rain over there. There’s a lot of sunshine and great fans and great people.

“I’m grateful to be where I’m at right now and looking forward to what the future brings.”

Back in San Diego, that feeling is mutual.