Padres rally in 8th to sweep Mexico City Series

Confidence soars as SD climbs above .500 with two wins over Giants

May 1st, 2023

MEXICO CITY -- Maybe the Padres just needed a weekend away in Mexico.

San Diego completed a sweep of the Mexico City Series by rallying for a 6-4 victory over the Giants on Sunday afternoon at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú. The Padres weren’t quite the unstoppable force they were Saturday during a 16-run outburst. But they hit when they needed to -- ensuring that they left Mexico with a pair of victories to push them a game above .500 at the end of April.

“We had this marked on the schedule as a series we were really looking forward to, one that we knew would be really exciting,” said Padres first baseman . “Mexico City didn't let us down. … I'm looking at this as potentially the series that jump-starts our club and gets us on a roll.”

It was Carpenter, whose two-out double put the Padres on top in the bottom of the eighth inning. He ended a fierce eight-pitch battle with Giants closer Camilo Doval by lofting a fly-ball double into shallow center that eluded the dive of Mike Yastrzemski (who strained his hamstring running for the baseball).

Two runs scored on the play, and the Padres were on their way to a two-game sweep of MLB’s first regular-season series in Mexico’s capital.

“Definitely, we [can] build from these W’s,” said Padres DH . “The confidence will be up.”

Cruz was perhaps the star of the weekend -- as much for his wheels as anything else. On Saturday he notched five hits and stole a base, while becoming the oldest player in franchise history to hit a home run. He finished a triple shy of the cycle -- but this is 42-year-old Nelson Cruz. Not exactly a threat to hit triples, right?

Wrong! On Sunday, Cruz got that triple, hustling around the bases after his second-inning drive to the top of the wall caromed away from Yastrzemski. Cruz became the oldest player in franchise history with a triple, as well. He’s also the oldest big leaguer to triple since his then-teammate Ichiro Suzuki did so for the Mariners in 2016.

“As soon as I hit it,” Cruz said when asked when he began to think triple. “I’m always thinking extra bases.”

Cruz wound up stranded there, as Giants starter Alex Cobb held San Diego scoreless through four innings. It was , the unlikeliest of Padres home-run hitters, who got them on the board with a long ball. Nola’s two-run homer in the fifth came a couple pitches after he realized he’d arrived at the plate with a crack in his bat. 

Nola had worked a 3-0 count before he saw the crack. He still isn’t sure how it got there. But the slumping Padres backstop returned to the dugout for a new piece of lumber, then launched his first home run of the season, a welcome sign, even if it came in a homer-friendly environment.

“I wanted to join the party,” Nola said. “I don’t care what it was.”

In the meantime, Nola backstopped an excellent effort from right-hander . The veteran right-hander allowed four runs, including his first three homers of the season. But he worked six innings at altitude, helping preserve a taxed Padres bullpen. He also struck out nine, one shy of Joey Hamilton’s record for strikeouts in a regular-season game in Mexico (set with the Padres in Monterrey in 1996).

Luis García followed Darvish with two scoreless relief innings, setting the stage for a dramatic eighth.  tied the game with an RBI single off Doval, and Carpenter followed with his double.

After the game, Carpenter was given the honors of smashing open a second-straight victory piñata, this one in the shape of a star, after Saturday’s Buzz Lightyear. Yep, the Padres truly enjoyed themselves this weekend in Mexico City.

And why not? In addition to their two victories, they played in front of two sellout crowds, buzzing from the first pitch to the last. Between innings they enjoyed mariachi music and fans singing along.

Technically, of course, these were Padres home games. And, no, it wasn’t ideal for a team with division-title aspirations to sacrifice a pair of games at Petco Park. But the experience was well worth it, and, in the end, the trip might’ve paid greater dividends than two home games ever could.

To say the least, the vibes feel awfully different than they did two days ago with the Padres sitting a game below .500 having dropped two of three at Wrigley Field.

“The atmosphere was incredible, and we came in here with an offense that was really trying to find its way,” Carpenter said. “To swing the bats like we did the last two days, really is a great thing for our confidence going forward.”