Manny's 'game-saving' play, oppo HR steal show

April 11th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- turned the sort of double play that only the game’s top performers can execute.

San Diego’s $300 million man conquered right field at Oracle Park by clobbering an opposite-field home run that snapped a sixth-inning tie. Defensively, Machado converted third base into his personal playpen, slickly assisting on five putouts before snagging a tricky pop fly that ended the Padres’ 3-1 victory Wednesday over the San Francisco Giants.

The Padres sealed the two-out-of-three series victory behind rookie starter (1-1), who lasted six innings to claim his first Major League win. Relying on an assortment of offspeed pitches, Margevicius befuddled the Giants, particularly in his final inning. Nursing a 2-1 lead courtesy of Machado’s longball, all Margevicius wanted to do was hold the Giants scoreless. He exceeded his own expectations by striking out Tyler Austin, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford.

“Three outs would have been fine with me, any way I got them,” the left-hander said. “But the one thing on my mind was a shutdown inning."

Margevicius’ effort constituted a triumph of subtlety. However, there was nothing subtle about the savage swing Machado unleashed. Machado avoided guesswork and hesitation. He simply swung at the first pitch that Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez offered him in the sixth, a 90-mph fastball, and drove it across the top of the right-field wall, barely but clearly a home run.

Bear in mind that “going oppo” is an extreme accomplishment for right-handed batters here. Machado’s round-tripper marked the 50th time since Oracle Park opened as Pacific Bell Park in 2000 that a right-handed hitter has homered to right field.

“He (Rodriguez) made one mistake all day. I was able to take advantage of the situation,” said Machado, San Diego’s prized free-agent acquisition during this past offseason. “I’ve hit a few balls that hit the top of that wall. I’m happy I got one over this time."

Machado became the 22nd visiting right-handed hitter to clear the right-field barrier. The only other Padre to do so was Ramon Hernandez on April 26, 2005.

Machado didn’t just generate a critical run. He also prevented one by fielding Kevin Pillar’s grounder and throwing home to retire Erik Kratz in the fifth inning with runners on the corners and San Francisco leading, 1-0. Machado’s peg to catcher Francisco Mejia was high but accurate. Mejia applied the tag, a task made easier by Kratz neglecting to slide. Kratz initially was called safe, but a replay review overturned the ruling.

“I was just trying to get the lead runner,” Machado said. “We were trying to turn two there. I think how the ground ball was hit, we weren’t going to get Pillar going to first. We were just trying to get one out, and what was (left) was the guy on third base.”

Padres manager Andy Green expressed his appreciation for Machado’s “game-changing, game-saving” play, particularly since Kratz had received a gift double when left fielder Wil Myers lost his fly ball in the sun.

The glare threatened the Padres again in the ninth inning, when the Giants moved runners to second and third with two outs. Brandon Belt lifted a popup that none of the infielders seemed eager to pursue -- except for Machado, who ended the game by gloving the ball about a foot or two before it struck the ground.

“It was tough,” Machado said. “You have to stay with it and stay focused the whole way until you make the out."