The wild ride began moments before first pitch and didn’t relent until the Padres put a 12-spot on the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday night. Indeed, San Diego’s 12-3 victory in Arizona featured all manner of highs and lows:
• Right fielder Wil Myers was scratched mere moments before the game because of COVID-19 contact-tracing protocols, only to be cleared and pinch-hit in the eighth inning, driving in a run.
• Fernando Tatis Jr. committed yet another error at shortstop, but he pounded out two more hits and was robbed of an eighth home run that would’ve taken him to the top of the Major League leaderboard.
• The Padres’ offense was held scoreless through four innings, only to break out with 12 runs over the final five frames -- including a fifth-inning rally that featured seven consecutive hits, capped by Manny Machado’s bases-clearing triple.
What to make of it all? Well, perhaps most notably, the Padres earned a much-needed split against the D-backs, capping a 4-2 trek through Los Angeles and Arizona.
“Good way to finish up this road trip,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler.
Here’s a quick rundown of the all the noteworthy developments from Wednesday night -- and there were quite a few:
1. Dead arm for Weathers
This image is one the Padres would like to avoid: a highly regarded pitching prospect retreating to the clubhouse after just one inning because of a sore left arm. But Padres trainers were optimistic that Weathers avoided any major injury or ligament damage, Tingler said afterward.
Tingler used the words “dead armed” and “fatigued” to describe Weathers’ ailment -- perhaps not all that surprising for a 21-year-old rookie who has been called upon to fill a major role on the Padres’ pitching staff.
If the Padres’ medical staff can get a bit of inflammation on the back of Weathers’ forearm to recede, Tingler said it’s possible Weathers could make his next start.
2. Myers’ eventful night
Minutes before first pitch, Tingler was informed that Myers had entered the league’s contact-tracing protocol for COVID-19. Myers was scratched from the starting lineup and replaced in right field by Jorge Mateo.
Then, sometime around the fifth inning, word came down that Myers had been cleared to play. Tingler called for Myers as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, and he plated a run with a single. An inning later, Mateo launched his first career big league home run.
3. Up-and-down Tatis
Offensively, Tatis is on an absolute tear. He has recorded extra-base hits in five consecutive games and was denied a home run on a brilliant leaping play by Josh Rojas in right field in the eighth inning. (Tatis would settle for a sacrifice fly instead.)
Defensively, it’s a different story these days. Tatis committed his Major League-leading 10th error on Wednesday night, as he’s struggled to complete throws to first base. The Padres remain confident that Tatis will break out of his defensive slump. Why, exactly?
“The same thing that gave me confidence that his bat was going to come around when there were all types of questions,” Tingler said.
4. Nola is back
The Padres have spent four weeks waiting for starting catcher Austin Nola to return. And then, just like that, he was back. The Padres activated Nola after he caught a couple bullpen sessions and took batting practice Wednesday, reporting no lingering effects from his fractured left middle finger.
“I look forward to getting him behind the plate and getting his game going again,” Tingler said. “But overall, [Nola] is a leader in the room, a guy a lot of the players and staff believe in. It’s going to be really nice having him a part of it going forward.”
Victor Caratini received the start behind the plate Wednesday, but Nola made his season debut as a pinch-hitter, flying out to right field in the ninth. He was then asked to play second base in the bottom of the frame -- because Tingler wanted to make sure he had insurance behind the plate in the event something happened to Caratini.
The ball finds you, and sure enough Nola turned a double play.
Kim’s fifth-inning single tied the game when Rojas’ error allowed a second run to score. He helped spark a three-run eighth, too, with an RBI double. As for Cronenworth, he was called upon to pinch-hit in the sixth and launched a solo blast into the right-field seats.
It was that kind of night for the Padres’ offense.
“We’ve known we’re capable of doing that,” Tingler said. “To finally see those guys, the way they squared the ball up, it was like: ‘There it is!’ We’ve known it’s in there. … To finally get some consecutive hits and to string some really good at-bats together, it was exciting to see.”