HOUSTON -- With two outs in the 10th and the winning run on second base Saturday night, Padres reliever Phil Maton got the routine popup he wanted.Somehow, some way, there would be no 11th inning.Astros third baseman Alex Bregman skyed Maton's full-count fastball to the right side of the infield,
HOUSTON -- With two outs in the 10th and the winning run on second base Saturday night, Padres reliever Phil Maton got the routine popup he wanted.
Somehow, some way, there would be no 11th inning.
Astros third baseman Alex Bregman skyed Maton's full-count fastball to the right side of the infield, about 35 feet up the first-base line. Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer -- playing deep to prevent a game-winning grounder from sneaking through -- broke toward home. Catcher A.J. Ellis, meanwhile, never left his position behind the plate.
About halfway into his route, Hosmer sensed trouble and looked homeward for help. Realizing he had none, he continued his full sprint toward the baseball. He pulled up, only to find that he had overrun the path of the ball by about five feet. It plopped tantalizingly beyond Hosmer's outstretched glove. The Astros, who had walked off with an improbable 1-0 victory, mobbed Derek Fisher around home plate. Hosmer could only sink his head.
"That's my ball all the way," Hosmer said. "I just overran it, put my head down, tried to run in and make up some ground. By the time I looked up, it was past me. It's on me. It's my ball. I'll be ready to go [Sunday]."
Elsewhere in the Padres clubhouse the burden was shared.
"No excuse, you go out there, you catch the ball," Ellis said. "… Looking back, I should've been out there in the mix, waiting for him to call me off."
Added Padres manager Andy Green: "It just looked like two guys that were looking for the other guy to catch it. It's a disappointing end to a heck of a fight."
The Padres kept the Astros scoreless for nine innings on Saturday night after limiting them to one run on Friday. This time, it was right-hander Bryan Mitchell who set aside his rough Padres debut for 5 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball.
Mitchell didn't have pinpoint command, but he forced the Astros hitters into some very weak contact. He allowed just three hits -- all of them singles.
"That's a really good lineup he kept off-balance all day," Green said.
The Padres had their share of chances. Three times they opened an inning with a double, and two more times the leadoff man reached base. But Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole made certain those runners never touched the plate. With his seven shutout innings, Cole became the first pitcher in franchise history to record 11 strikeouts in each of his first two starts for the club.
Mitchell turned the ball over to a dominant Padres bullpen, which wouldn't falter until the 10th when Evan Gattis snuck a slow chopper through the shift. Fisher pinch-ran for Gattis and swiped second base, but Robbie Erlin retired the next two hitters, setting the stage for Maton vs. Bregman.
Bregman worked the count full, laying off a 2-2 slider that might have caught the outside corner. When Bregman got underneath a 3-2 fastball, Maton appeared to have mitigated the call. Four seconds later, the ball touched the grass, and Fisher jubilantly scampered home.
"The way Mitchell threw the ball, the way our bullpen threw the ball … it's just tough to lose on that," Hosmer said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Leave 'em loaded: Mitchell cruised through four innings on 42 pitches, before running into trouble in the fifth. Nonetheless, he gutted his way through a 30-pitch frame, leaving the bases loaded when he got Bregman to fly to right field.
"A lot of encouraging things to build on for him," Ellis said. "Really proud of the way he battled."
Baserunning blunders: The Padres ran into outs on the bases after two of their leadoff doubles Saturday night. Cory Spangenberg was off on contact when Manuel Margot hit a fourth-inning chopper to third base, and Spangenberg was tagged out after being hung up between third and home. Then in the ninth, Christian Villanueva broke toward third base on a relatively routine grounder to Bregman. Instead of throwing to first, Bregman merely turned toward Villanueva and applied the tag, removing a runner from scoring position.
"It just needs to be caught. If somebody takes authority over there, it's probably the easier play coming in than it is backpedaling as a catcher." -- Green, when asked whose responsibility the 10th-inning popup was
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Freddy Galvis salvaged his season-opening on-base streak with an eighth-inning walk. He's reached in all nine games to start the year, the longest such streak by a Padre since Justin Upton's 10-gamer in 2015. Tony Gwynn owns the franchise record by reaching in 28 consecutive games to start the 1999 season (though technically he shares it with Bobby Brown's 1983 run, though Brown didn't appear that year until a midseason callup).
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Fisher was initially called out trying to steal second in the bottom of the 10th inning. But Astros manager AJ Hinch challenged the call, and replays showed that Fisher's foot hit the base just before Carlos Asuaje applied the tag.
Padres right-hander Kirby Yates exited the game in the ninth with a right ankle injury. He's been battling nagging ankle trouble since Spring Training, but it worsened on Saturday, and he was removed after one pitch. The club is hopeful that Yates will avoid a stint on the disabled list.
Tyson Ross gutted his way to six innings of three-run ball in his Padres return on Tuesday. He'll face the Astros at 11:10 a.m. PT on Sunday. There are still question marks surrounding Ross, however. The veteran right-hander will need to find a way to miss more bats. He recorded two strikeouts and only three swings and misses against Colorado.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.