MIAMI -- Padres manager Andy Green insists it's not worth reading too deeply into his team's splits with two outs and men in scoring position. The sample is small, and the parameters are undeniably cherry-picked.But the Padres are hitting .288 in those situations -- easily the best mark in the
MIAMI -- Padres manager Andy Green insists it's not worth reading too deeply into his team's splits with two outs and men in scoring position. The sample is small, and the parameters are undeniably cherry-picked.
But the Padres are hitting .288 in those situations -- easily the best mark in the Majors -- and Green is just fine with that production, however long it lasts.
In Saturday's 5-4 victory over Miami at Marlins Park, the Padres once again came up big with two outs. They took a 3-0 lead in the first, scoring all three runs with two down. Their go-ahead rally in the eighth began with a two-out Hunter Renfroe double, followed by a pair of walks and Travis Jankowski's RBI single.
Jankowski, who gave the Padres the lead by lining a fastball from Marlins reliever Drew Rucinski into right field, has an interesting theory for the Padres' success in those big spots.
"It's pregame study, watching the pitchers, knowing what they like to throw with guys in scoring position," Jankowski said. "All the credit goes to Hoz."
That would be first baseman Eric Hosmer, who spends serious time dissecting film every day. Hosmer has been happy to clue in some of the younger Padres as to what they should be looking for when they do the same.
"He does a ton of work that we buy into and use and look at," Jankowski said. "It's the homework side that he's done a lot of and is starting to pass down to the younger guys so that we can run with it."
How, exactly, does that explain the Padres' numbers in those spots?
"You can simplify a lot of things," Hosmer said. "Some pitchers have three or four pitches, but they like to eliminate pitches with guys on base because it might be their third or fourth pitch. It just helps as a hitter when you can simplify things. If a guy doesn't throw his slider with men in scoring position, and it's just fastball-change -- that's useful information."
Hard to argue with that logic. Hosmer's pregame film habits have been an undeniable boon to the Padres, especially their youngsters.
That said, it's completely fair to be skeptical of the team's ability to sustain their clutch numbers, especially with a .234 overall average.
"It's about having quality at-bats in all situations," Green said. "It's great that we're coming through. ... You win a lot of baseball games by getting two-out hits with runners in scoring position. But expecting it to continue on, with the variance being so wide from what we're doing in other situations, is probably a little bit naive."
For now, the Padres are happy to ride the clutch wave. They've won eight of 11 and are 20-16 since the start of May.
"That's what separates winning teams and losing teams," Hosmer said. "There always seem to be those two or three big situations in a baseball game. That's really what we've been doing lately, is getting that big hit."
Bullpen game? 'You like your chances'
Right-hander Tyson Ross was sharp for five innings, but he allowed three hits in the sixth and exited with just one out. His defense did him no favors after that. One run scored on a wild pitch, and another came home on a Jose Pirela error that tied the game at 4.
The Padres, however, are generally content with a tie game in the seventh -- especially with the trio of Craig Stammen, Brad Hand and Kirby Yates at the back end.
"You like bullpen games," Green said. "When it comes down to your bullpen versus their bullpen, you like your chances."
Stammen worked a perfect seventh. Hand, pitching an inning earlier than usual because the matchups favored him, mowed down the heart of the Marlins' order in the eighth. In the ninth, leadoff man Lewis Brinson reached on an error and advanced to second on a groundout. But he was stranded there, when Yates struck out pinch-hitter John Holaday and got Cameron Maybin to fly out to right.
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Galvis goes deep: The Marlins clawed a run back in the third on Derek Dietrich's RBI single. Freddy Galvis negated that almost instantly. He led off the fourth by cranking a leadoff homer into the right-center-field seats, his third of the season.
Renfroe in a pinch: Renfroe has seven pinch-hit plate appearances this season. He has walked once, singled twice, hit a grand slam last Sunday and scored the go-ahead run after his double on Saturday. Said Green of Renfroe's eighth-inning mettle: "That's a game-winning at-bat for us today."
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Maybin's game-ending flyout wasn't of the routine variety. He sent it into the right-center-field gap where Jankowski and Franmil Reyes converged.
Jankowski, playing center, attempted to call Reyes off. But the 6-foot-5, 275-pound right fielder never heard him. He barreled toward the baseball and corralled it with his glove, as Jankowski ducked out of the way just in time.
"We got the out," Jankowski said with a wry grin. "I'll take it. But it was a little scary, for sure."
Clayton Richard has worked at least six innings in six consecutive starts, and if he can go seven in Miami, he'd move into the National League innings lead. A year ago, Richard homered at Marlins Park. He'd be content with a solid pitching performance on Sunday, opposite Marlins right-hander Jose Urena. First pitch is slated for 10:10 a.m. PT.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.