SAN DIEGO -- Call them the Slam Diego Padres. There’s not a more exhilarating show in baseball these days.
Machado launched a no-doubt, walk-off grand slam off the facing of the upper deck in left field at Petco Park in the 10th inning as the Padres rallied for a 6-3 victory over the Rangers. It was their third win over Texas in as many nights -- and, remarkably, their third grand slam, too.
After Tatis’ audacious 3-0 salami on Monday and Wil Myers’ bases-loaded bomb in the first inning on Tuesday, the Padres have hit grand slams in three straight games for the first time in franchise history. They’re the first team to do so since the White Sox pulled off the feat from June 23-25, 2006, and the fifth in Major League history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last National League team to do so? The Cleveland Spiders, who did it against the Boston Beaneaters from June 15-17, 1895.
“We’re doing special things here,” Machado said. “We’re going to continue to do that, and at the same time, we’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
Machado became the 18th player to hit a walk-off grand slam in extras for a team that was trailing. Nick Swisher notched the last such slam for Cleveland in 2014, and San Diego had never had a player do it before.
It was the 11th grand slam of Machado’s career, and the second time he’s done it walk-off style. Machado also beat the Angels with a walk-off slam as a member of the Orioles on Aug. 18, 2017. He joins the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman and the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton as the only active players with more than one.
Machado’s approach in those situations?
“He’s the one in trouble,” the Padres' star third baseman said. “The pitcher on the mound is the one in trouble, and he has to come to you. You’re just waiting there, just trying to get a pitch you can handle.”
The Padres gave up the tying run in the ninth inning and the go-ahead run in the 10th -- the first courtesy of a Joey Gallo homer and the second courtesy of a Willie Calhoun bases-loaded tapper in front of the plate. It set the stage for a white-knuckled bottom of the 10th.
Greg Garcia opened the frame with a bunt, moving automatic runner Jurickson Profar to third. What followed was a testament to the way San Diego has overhauled its offense this season. It’s hard to envision prior Padres teams doing something like this:
Leadoff man Trent Grisham worked a count full, then walked. Tatis also worked a full count, and after a tense eight-pitch battle against Rangers right-hander Rafael Montero, he watched an ankle-high changeup for ball four.
“I call him Mr. Clutch,” said Padres starter Chris Paddack, who pitched six innings of one-run ball. “I’m sure he wanted to swing and get in the spotlight again. But, you know, why not give it to Manny?”
Machado’s at-bat was every bit as good as the two that preceded it. He fouled off four pitches, and with a 2-2 count, he laid off a slider off the outside corner.
“Three of the best at-bats I’ve seen on the year,” San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said
Montero, making his 42nd pitch of the night, finally made a mistake.
“I have to give them credit,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “They fought Montero pretty hard right there. Monte was making some pretty tough pitches. Tatis had some really good foul balls, the whole at-bat with Machado, the same thing. They kind of wore him down. Credit for Montero. … He challenged him, and Machado got him.”
Montero challenged Machado with a thigh-high fastball, and, yes, Machado got him. He launched a 112-mph laser a projected 436 feet. Machado walked three steps up the first-base line before thumping his chest as he broke into a jog. The Padres' dugout burst into a frenzy. Tatis went ballistic as he rounded second base.
It was Tatis’ third-inning blast that put the Padres on top in the third inning. He extended his Major League home run lead to 12 with a solo shot to straightaway center field. Despite the quasi-controversy that has engulfed him, Tatis is 6-for-14 with three home runs this week.
Paddack and the Padres' bullpen made that lead hold up until the ninth, when the game suddenly felt like it was slipping away. But left-handed reliever Tim Hill worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the 10th, allowing only one inherited runner to score. That was the opening San Diego needed.
“We knew one run wasn’t going to beat us,” Paddack said. “Especially with our big dogs coming up.”
The big dogs had yet another grand slam up their sleeve.
“We gave up the lead, then we came back and we fought,” Machado said. “It just makes it that much more special.”