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After historic slam, Padres walk off AGAIN

Grand slams in 4 consecutive games had never been done
@AJCassavell
August 21, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- It’s probably a good thing that Fernando Tatis Jr. swung in a 3-0 count. Monday’s now-infamous grand slam set the Padres on course for a bit of baseball history this week. Wil Myers followed with a slam on Tuesday. Manny Machado did it walk-off style on Wednesday.

SAN DIEGO -- It’s probably a good thing that Fernando Tatis Jr. swung in a 3-0 count.

Monday’s now-infamous grand slam set the Padres on course for a bit of baseball history this week.

Wil Myers followed with a slam on Tuesday. Manny Machado did it walk-off style on Wednesday. By Thursday night, it was Eric Hosmer’s turn to do the honors, as the Padres became the first team ever to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games.

“It’s fun to be a part of history,” said Hosmer following the Padres’ 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Rangers, completing a four-game, two-city sweep.

Box score

Slam Diego, indeed.

Entering Thursday, the Padres were already one of only five teams in Major League history to hit grand slams in three straight games, and the first since the 2006 White Sox. Then the fifth inning rolled around.

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Austin Hedges and Tatis singled before Machado walked, setting the stage for Hosmer, who turned around a 1-1 fastball from Kyle Gibson. It crept toward the right-field porch at Petco Park, barely clearing the fence, at a projected 366 feet, according to Statcast. Hosmer extended both arms as the ball caromed off the padding behind the wall. The home dugout erupted.

“It’s not really something I was thinking about during the game,” Hosmer said, breaking into a grin. “But as soon as I got back to the dugout, I certainly was.”

After a back-and-forth finish, the Padres would win the game on Jake Cronenworth's walk-off single and an ensuing error by Rangers center fielder Scott Heineman. It was their second straight walk-off victory to cap four nights of grand slams from four different players.

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“That’s the best part of it,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “It’s not one guy, it’s not two guys. It’s a group of men that are pulling for one another and delivering at different moments.”

Including Machado’s home run at Dodger Stadium last week, the Padres have now hit five grand slams in their first 27 games of the season -- joining the 1996 Expos and the 2018 Red Sox as the only teams to do so.

Grand slams, of course, aren’t solely a testament to a team’s power -- though San Diego clearly has plenty. (Ty France and Hedges went back-to-back in the eighth inning to give the Padres a late lead.) But the Padres have had power for a while. They set a franchise record for home runs last season, breaking their 2017 mark -- which broke their '16 mark. All too often, those were solo homers.

This season, however, the Padres have built an offense capable of reaching base consistently after finishing in the bottom five in the Majors in on-base percentage in six straight seasons.

“They’re doing a good job of loading the bases,” Tingler said. “And then, how do you explain it?

He paused.

“They’re all doing a good job of missing the take sign. I don’t know what to say.”

That quip was a reference to Tatis’ swing Monday, which caused quite the racket. Leading by seven runs, Tingler had given the sign for Tatis to take a 3-0 pitch. Tatis never saw the sign, and he bopped an opposite-field grand slam into the right-field seats at Globe Life Park.

The Rangers, of course, weren’t pleased, and the next pitch sailed behind Machado. Cameras caught Tingler addressing Tatis for having missed the sign. They also caught Hosmer speaking with the Texas dugout and later Tatis on the bench.

That led some to speculate that Hosmer was trying to subdue the Padres’ firebrand. Hosmer took Thursday night to set the record straight. That 3-0 swing?

“I’m perfectly fine with it,” Hosmer said. “At that point in time, their team is pretty upset, and my job as one of the leaders on this team is to protect him at all times. If I hear some chirping going on from their side, I’m certainly trying to tell those guys he’s not trying to disrespect the game, he’s not trying to disrespect anybody in their dugout. The game nowadays is a lot different than it was when I came up. That’s what people really need to understand.

“I have a 21-year-old superstar on the bench, and he’s feeling terrible because he feels like he got one of his teammates thrown at. I’m certainly not going to let him feel that way. I wanted him to enjoy that night and not be upset. We had a great talk about it. We all learned from that situation. And it motivated us. It really did.

“I don’t know if that’s the reason we got the sweep. But it certainly motivated us. You need sparks like that.”

It sparked a sweep, yes. It also sparked some extraordinary baseball history -- a grand slam of grand slams, if you will.

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