Padres keep fighting, tally 1st win in extras this season

September 28th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- Credit the 2023 Padres with this much at least: They’re determined to fight until the bitter end.

Again, the Padres staved off elimination on Wednesday, beating the Giants, 5-2, in 10 innings at Oracle Park. In doing so, they picked up their first extra-innings win of the season, avoiding making history as the first team to go 0-13 in extras.

“Feels good to get one out of the way,” said , whose two-out, two-run single in the 10th broke the game open. “Couldn’t let the season finish without getting one. There it is.”

The reality, of course, is that while the Padres remain alive, their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. They need to sweep the White Sox, while the Marlins and Cubs lose each of their last four games and the Reds lose their series against the Pirates.

Or, as Machado put it: “Still not out; still got hope.”

Of course, there’s a decent chance that by the time the Padres take the field for Game 1 in Chicago this weekend, that hope will have been extinguished. Both the Marlins and Cubs play Thursday night, and either could eliminate the Padres with a victory.

Which brings the Padres back to their extra-innings woes and their utter inability to win games like this one for most of the season. The 1969 Expos were the only other team to begin a season 0-12 in extra innings.

“Now, it hurts more, being able to see what we can do,” said . “... It really hurts, because we’re playing our best game.”

Indeed, the Padres are 17-7 in September, the best record in the Majors. They entered the month 11 games below .500 and 8 1/2 games out of the playoff picture.

“All year we’ve been trying to figure it out, trying to find it,” Machado said. “Obviously it took a little bit longer than we expected. But at the end of the day, we knew what team we had. We knew the group of guys in here, the capability, how good we can play. We just wanted to go out there and leave it all on the field the last couple weeks.”

They’ve done exactly that. Wednesday’s win brought the Padres within a game of .500, while leaving open the possibility they might finish the season with a winning record.

They got six innings of two-run ball from , who lately has been making a strong case for a roster spot in 2024 -- whether as a back-end starter or a long man. Offensively, went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double and Machado pounded out three hits.

“We’ve finished the year strong,” Cooper said. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’re going to need some help over the next four days, where hopefully a miracle comes. … You’re wishing on a prayer. But you’ve got to take care of business here first.”

So often this season, the Padres have reached extras and their bats have gone silent. But on Wednesday, they put on a clinic in how to win an extra-innings game in the era of the automatic runner. 

Brett Sullivan moved that runner to third with a grounder to the right side. Bogaerts followed with a sacrifice fly. The Giants proceeded to leave the door open by committing a pair of errors, and the Padres capitalized. Machado’s single plated a pair of unearned runs, and the bottom of the 10th was relatively drama-free.

“We had a couple sac flies, we had some big hits, Sully pulls the ball in extra innings, gets the guy over,” said manager Bob Melvin. “That’s how you win extra-inning games.”


As for Thursday’s off-day, Melvin has tried to avoid keeping too close an eye on the standings and the results elsewhere. Machado, meanwhile, said that, yes, he will be watching the Marlins and Cubs games. 

More than anything, he added, because “I love baseball; I watch games.”

In fact, as the DH while he plays through an elbow injury that will require offseason surgery, Machado stole away into the batting cage to catch the finish of the Cubs-Braves game. He and Friday’s starter Nick Martinez watched as Ozzie Albies delivered a walk-off win.

Giddy, Martinez and Machado returned to the dugout, informing anyone who would listen that the Padres had a pulse. Only then did Melvin learn the Cubs had lost, keeping the Padres mathematically alive.

“Until you’re out of it, you’re still in it,” Melvin would later say. “I think that’s kind of what’s inspiring us at this point.”