Manny: SD 'pressing,' but 'everybody in here knows what we've got'

May 15th, 2023

LOS ANGELES -- All things considered, it feels a bit early in the calendar for the 2023 Padres to be approaching an inflection point.

But that’s the nature of the hole they’re presently digging themselves.

The Padres dropped Sunday’s series finale at Dodger Stadium, 4-0 -- a game in which they again failed to convert with runners in scoring position, again couldn’t muster the offense they should from a lineup full of superstars, again saw an overburdened bullpen let things slip late.

San Diego has dropped five straight and seven of eight overall -- including five to the Dodgers in that span. With the season more than a quarter finished, the Padres sit 19-22, third place in the National League West and seven games behind Los Angeles in the standings.

This, needless to say, is not the way the Padres envisioned their 2023 season starting.

Nor is it the way they envision it carrying on.

“It’s baseball,” said third baseman , whose OPS dipped to .654 with an 0-for-3 showing on Sunday. “That’s just what it is. We’ll see where we’re at at the end of the year, and then we’ll talk again.”

For the Padres’ sake, it sure needs to look different. Because right now, they’re on pace for some historic futility at the plate with runners in scoring position. They went 0-for-9 on Sunday, dropping their RISP batting average below the Mendoza Line to .198.

That qualifies as the worst RISP batting average for any team in recorded history. (Some data in the 1940s and prior is incomplete, but it’s at least the worst mark in 80 years.)

“Yeah, we’re pressing, for sure,” said Machado, not one to acknowledge such things lightly. “We want to win the [freaking] game. That’s what it’s about. It’s about winning, and we’re not playing good baseball right now.”

Then Machado offered a bit of perspective.

“Keep fighting,” he added. “I think everybody in here knows what we’ve got. We have confidence in each other that when things turn, things are going to turn for the better. … Look at the numbers on our baseball cards at the end. Our baseball cards haven’t changed in 10 years.

“We’ve got All-Stars. We’ve got future Hall of Famers in here. We know that you’ve just got to trust the process.”

Still, right now, that process has left the Padres searching for answers. Manager Bob Melvin is almost always even-keeled and big-picture oriented. But on Thursday in Minnesota, after consecutive losses, Melvin called out his lineup’s underperformance.

That was before a three-game sweep in Los Angeles, in which the Padres mustered four total runs -- though Melvin was quick to note he was encouraged by some better at-bats this weekend.

“Look, we came out and we fought as hard as we could the last three games,” Melvin said. “It doesn’t look good when we don’t get any hits.”

And that’s the crux of the issue. Across the board, the Padres are underperforming offensively. There’s not a player on their roster outperforming preseason expectations. Most of them are well below their projected numbers.

Is it a preparation issue?

“Look, what the hitting coaches do, they prepare them well in our meetings, individually,” Melvin said. “We have basically four guys. They do a great job individually with each guy. Our preparation before games, breaking down the pitchers and so forth, I think is really good.”

But the Padres aren’t executing.

“We’ve got a lot of information, and we prepare pretty good,” DH said. “Bottom line: You just get it done.”

Left-hander was mostly excellent Sunday after he was recalled from Triple-A with the Padres reverting to a six-man rotation. He allowed Mookie Betts’ two-run homer in the third, but nothing else prior to his sixth-inning exit with two men aboard.

It took all of one pitch for the Dodgers to get the type of swing the Padres have had to fight for, tooth and nail. Miguel Vargas laced a two-run double into the left-field corner off reliever , and Los Angeles led 4-0. For all intents and purposes, that was that.

The Padres have dropped 11 consecutive regular-season series to the rival Dodgers. “Regular season” is obviously a critical part of that statement, as San Diego beat the Dodgers in the NLDS last October, and there’s still something to be taken from that.

“We know this team,” said right-hander after Saturday’s loss. “We feel like we have a better team than them. We’re just not playing to our capabilities right now.”