SAN DIEGO -- On Monday night, during a wild 11-9 victory over the Rockies, the Padres eclipsed 3 million in attendance at Petco Park this season, only the second time in franchise history they’ve hit that mark. Fourteen thousand fans or so later, they broke the single-season attendance record in San Diego.
With an announced crowd of 42,062, the Padres have now welcomed 3,029,009 fans to Petco Park this year, breaking the previous record set in the ballpark’s inaugural season in 2004. They reached that mark even with five home games left on the calendar -- even with two home dates played in Mexico City.
Those fans have turned up in droves, hoping to see nights like this one. The Padres haven’t always delivered. But on Monday night -- to kick off the season’s final homestand -- they sure did.
A jam-packed Petco Park was treated to a show.
“You walk out on a Monday night, you look up in that far corner in left field, and that kind of tells you what the attendance is going to be,” said manager Bob Melvin. “There’s people there early, and you know it’s going to be another sellout. We broke an attendance record today. That’s been the most consistent part of this season -- the fans showing up.”
The sad part is: Melvin isn’t wrong. The fan base has delivered all season. The Padres have not. They sit five games below .500, 5 1/2 games out of the NL Wild Card race with 11 to play. They can be eliminated as soon as Friday.
“To me, that's what hurts the most is: We've let some of these fans down,” said third baseman Manny Machado, who earlier Monday acknowledged he’s almost certainly heading for elbow surgery. “... They've supported us all year. They've supported us through the thick and thin, and I know that they're going to keep supporting us no matter what. And that's why we have one of the best fan bases in baseball.”
Despite their underperformance, the Padres sold out a franchise-record 58 games in 2023. Their overall home attendance average of 40,371 is third in the Majors, behind only the Dodgers and Yankees.
“Every night, you felt like it was packed,” Bogaerts said. “You look up on a Monday against the Royals or a Wednesday against Washington, and it’s still packed. … Some places during the week, it can be a little tough. Everyone’s working, and stuff like that. Here, the people show out. They come out and support us.”
On Monday, at least, the Padres rewarded those fans in a big way. Cooper mashed a two-run homer in the second, putting San Diego on top. Colorado responded with two in the top of the third, before Campusano came to the plate with two on and two outs in the bottom of the frame.
Rockies starter Ty Blach threw a changeup that darted below the strike zone. Campusano committed to it, and he got his barrel to it, even if he needed to drop to a knee to do so. It made for quite a visual -- Campusano’s drive sailing toward the left-field seats as he picked himself up in the batter’s box.
From there, the Padres had a lead they did not relinquish. Colorado mounted a late charge, before Josh Hader slammed the door on his 30th save, a milestone he has reached four times.
The Padres had secured their first five-game winning streak since last September. Suddenly they’re playing perhaps their best baseball of the season.
“We’re just in a better place,” Melvin said. “We’re on one of those things we haven’t been able to get to all year where it just feels good. You feel like you’re going to score. You feel like you can add on. There’s a looseness to how we’re playing right now. That’s why we’ve played our best baseball here.”
Now that they’re all but eliminated from playoff contention, they’ve finally found it?
“You know what?” Melvin said. “We’ve got to not think about that right now. We’ll add them all up later. Right now, we just have to continue to try to play well and, regardless, finish out the season strong.”