The Padres, at least, have bullpen help on the way.
On the day they traded for one big-time bullpen arm and reinstated another from the injured list, the Friars got a reminder why they need both so badly. (And perhaps a reminder that they shouldn’t stop scouring the market ahead of Monday’s 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline.)
Daniel Murphy’s walk-off single in the ninth inning sent the Rockies to a 4-3 victory Saturday night at Coors Field, evening the series between these two National League postseason contenders at one game apiece.
Earlier in the day, the Padres traded for right-hander Trevor Rosenthal, who is expected to arrive for Sunday’s game. They also activated lefty Drew Pomeranz, who worked a crisp and scoreless eighth. But the Padres’ ‘pen is up against it -- especially considering scheduled starter Adrian Morejon was scratched and placed on the injured list Saturday.
“Not a secret right now that we’re a little short with some arms in the bullpen,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said.
Tingler turned to Craig Stammen in the ninth, despite the fact that the veteran right-hander had entered in a similar spot on Thursday and surrendered four runs without recording an out.
On Saturday, Stammen allowed the first two men to reach base. He actually executed his 1-1 sinker to Murphy -- at the knees, on the outside corner -- but Murphy went with the pitch for an opposite-field game-winner, as Stammen’s ERA ballooned to 8.36.
“We still have a lot of confidence in Craig,” Tingler said. “No doubt about it. He’s been having to do a lot of the heavy lifting down there in some of the hardest situations.”
Given the state of the Padres’ bullpen, Tingler didn’t have many options. But it’s worth pointing out that he did have options. In his first game back from a left shoulder strain, Pomeranz was always going to be limited to one inning. But that inning could’ve been the ninth.
With the Padres trailing by three runs in the seventh, Tingler called on Pierce Johnson for the final out. Johnson threw only four pitches. But he was lifted after the Padres rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth -- mostly because Tingler wanted Pomeranz for the heart of the Rockies’ order.
“Pom’s been our hot hand,” Tingler said. “So we thought we would take a shot with our best guy versus some of their best guys.
That decision left Tingler somewhat exposed in the ninth. With the bottom of the Rockies lineup due up, he opted for Stammen over right-hander Javy Guerra. (It’s unclear whether Tim Hill or Cal Quantrill were available, given their recent workload.) The decision backfired.
Of course, the Padres think they have a solution for their bare bullpen cupboard. Rosenthal is slated to arrive in Denver Sunday. Meanwhile, general manager A.J. Preller is still actively in search of pitching help, according to sources.
Preller’s search includes relievers -- to provide a few reliable options at the back end. And it includes starters -- to help alleviate that burden entirely.
Saturday offered a perfect example of why the Padres could use both.
But Patiño was an excitable rookie who hadn't seen true game action since last September. The club expected those early struggles. They figured he’d be pitching crucial innings soon enough.
Slowly, the Padres have begun to ask for more out of Patiño. For the most part, he's risen to the challenge. After allowing five runs in his first two outings, Patiño owns a 1.86 ERA in his past six.
“The more games I get into, the better it’s been, the more comfortable I’ve been,” Patiño said.
Patiño worked scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth on Saturday, though he allowed a leadoff single to Matt Kemp in the seventh before he was removed. That run would come around to score later in the frame.
Still, the rookie flashed his usual big-time stuff, striking out three Rockies. In Tingler’s eyes, Patiño is earning his way into a bigger role, and Patiño wouldn’t want it any other way.
“When you love this sport, you want to be in those moments,” Patiño said. “That’s something that I really embrace. It’s something I’ve always embraced and enjoyed in this game. I want to be in those difficult moments.”
Manny Machado hasn’t left much doubt during his current 11-game hitting streak. He racked up multiple hits in eight of the first 10 games during that run, and he hadn’t posted a game with fewer than two total bases.
Until Saturday. For the first time, Machado’s streak seemed like it might actually be in jeopardy -- before he swatted an opposite-field single off Carlos Estévez in the eighth, part of the Padres’ three-run game-tying rally.
During those 11 games, Machado hit an absurd .523/.551/1.068. He’s the first Padre since Reggie Sanders in 1999 to record a hit and a run in 11 straight.