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San Diego relentless in record-shattering series

Padres stun Rockies with 2nd comeback in wild weekend
@AJCassavell
June 16, 2019

DENVER -- In one of the wildest series in baseball history, one miracle Padres comeback wasn't enough. So on Sunday afternoon, they made it two. Trailing by three in the top of the ninth inning, the Padres stormed back for four runs and a 14-13 victory over the Rockies in

DENVER -- In one of the wildest series in baseball history, one miracle Padres comeback wasn't enough.

So on Sunday afternoon, they made it two.

Trailing by three in the top of the ninth inning, the Padres stormed back for four runs and a 14-13 victory over the Rockies in the highest scoring four-game series in Major League history.

Box score

Afterward, Manny Machado summed it up best.

“We scored a lot of freaking runs,” he said. “It was something crazy.”

It certainly was. The two teams combined to score 92 runs, to be exact.

With Wil Myers’ two-out RBI single in the ninth, the Padres and Rockies surpassed a Major League record for runs in a four-game series, set by the Phillies and Dodgers in 1929. The two clubs also combined for 131 hits, two shy of a 97-year-old Major League record.

Greg Garcia followed Myers by working a full count against Rockies closer Wade Davis. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Garcia shot an opposite-field triple into the gap, tying the game at 13.

“You can’t script this series,” Padres manager Andy Green said.

Davis’ day was done, and the Rockies called for right-hander Jon Gray, who, poetically, had thrown the first pitch of the series on Thursday night. With the bases loaded, Gray faced left-hander Matt Strahm. The Padres were out of pinch-hitters, and Strahm, strangely enough, had also started on Thursday, opposite Gray.

“That had the feel of a weird playoff game,” Green said. “All kinds of different things going on. It feels good to come out on this side of it. … Crazy series all the way around.”

Strahm worked the count full, and walked, sending the visiting dugout into a frenzy and the rest of Coors Field into a stunned silence. The Padres had taken the lead for the first time since a three-run first. Closer Kirby Yates slammed the door for his Major League leading 24th save.

“There's 27 outs they've got to get on us,” Machado said. “We're not going to give up until that last out is made.”

‘Just get it to me, and we’ll win’

Strahm swears he wasn’t being smug when he uttered those words in the Padres dugout in the top of the ninth. Green had just informed him that, without any bench options, Strahm would be called upon to pinch-hit as the ninth batter in the frame.

“I jokingly said at the start of the ninth, ‘Just get it to me, and we'll win,’” Strahm said afterward. “I was assuming if it got to me we'd already have the lead.”

That’s when bench coach Rod Barajas chimed in. He pointed out that there was still a chance Strahm could come to the plate with the bases loaded in a tie game.

That’s exactly how things unfolded.

Eric Hosmer and Machado worked walks, before Myers’ single and Garcia’s triple. With the go-ahead run on third base and the pitcher’s spot due up third, Rockies skipper Bud Black opted for a pair of intentional walks.

“They were out of position players and we felt our best matchup was getting their pitcher in the box,” Black said.

Strahm didn’t take the bat off his shoulder. He watched six pitches, the last of which was a 98 mph fastball below the knees on the outside corner. Ball four.

Tatis dazzles again

What can’t he do?

Fernando Tatis Jr. came a homer shy of the cycle on Sunday. He’d recorded hits in seven straight at-bats before grounding out in the fourth, and he became the only player in baseball to have done so this season.

Tatis went 3-for-6 to bring his average to .338 this season -- and that offense is only a piece of the puzzle. The rookie phenom dazzled defensively and on the bases, too.

He swiped a bag in the first, then advanced to third when the throw sailed into center. In the second, Tatis was on third when Hosmer grounded back to the mound. He paused for a moment, and when Rockies starter Peter Lambert turned to throw to first, he broke for home. Tatis dove in safely, just ahead of the tag.

The reaction of Hosmer, who earned himself an RBI for a routine grounder to the pitcher, said it all. He broke into an ear-to-ear grin and pointed toward Tatis as he jogged back to the dugout.

“I’ve never seen anything like that on the bases,” Hosmer said. “I’ve seen guys with speed. I’ve never seen guys with that speed and that awareness. … Everything he does on the baseball field with his instincts is just right.”

But wait! There’s more!

In the third, Tatis picked a one-hopper from Daniel Murphy and fired across the diamond to end the inning. His throw was clocked by Statcast at 93.4 mph. That’s the hardest throw from an infielder this season. The average big league fastball checks in at 93 mph.

Pitching woes persist

The numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. The series set all sorts of records, as the effects of hitter-friendly Coors Field were on full display. But forget the numbers. We already know they aren’t pretty. This much holds true, regardless: The San Diego pitching staff has major question marks.

With the Padres’ bullpen already worn down, they called on 22-year-old rookie Nick Margevicius Sunday. He was knocked around for nine runs and 11 hits in 1 1/3 innings, the latest San Diego starter to struggle.

“We gave him a little bit of latitude because of how desperately we needed some length out of him,” Green said. “We didn’t get that length.”

Padres pitchers combined to allow 48 runs this series, shattering the previous franchise record of 40. No doubt, those totals were aided by the ballpark. But they’re also indicative of a larger trend.

San Diego pitchers came out of the gate strong with a 3.53 ERA through April. They posted a 4.56 mark in May. In June? It’s 7.05.

Offense heats up

There’s another side to that coin: The Padres’ offense is heating up. Their 44 runs in the series set a franchise record, and their 62 hits tied their club mark.

Hunter Renfroe homered twice on Sunday, giving him 23 on the season. He’s tied with Pete Alonso and Cody Bellinger for second in the Majors, behind the 26 of Christian Yelich.

Tatis and Renfroe both had three hits. Garcia had four and drove in four runs. Every starter except Austin Hedges scored a run.

And most importantly: The Padres scored when it counted. In their two wins this series, they tallied 15 runs in the ninth inning or later.

“We feel like we can do it,” said Hosmer, when asked about the team’s mindset when trailing late in games. “We believe that we can do it.”

On Sunday afternoon, they did it. Again.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.