If Saturday's 9-4 loss to the D-backs was Ross' final start as a Padre, it was, perhaps, a fitting outing to end with. The veteran right-hander teetered during a four-run second inning. But he picked himself up, and San Diego rallied to tie the game two innings later.
Clearly, Ross isn't one to shy away from a challenge. After all, this is the same pitcher who battled back from a shoulder injury and thoracic outlet surgery to win a place in the rotation this spring. He's run with that opportunity and become one of the club's most reliable starters.
"I was on the couch last September, released [by Texas] and at home," Ross said. "I just worked my tail off all offseason and came into camp happy to have an opportunity. I've just tried to make the most of it."
Now, Ross is viewed as a serious trade candidate. He's due to become a free agent at the end of the season, and the Padres will almost certainly field calls from contenders over the next three days.
"Literally no one wanted me in September last year," Ross said. "To have San Diego interested early, and now other teams, that's a big improvement from where I was less than a year ago. To have people interested in me again -- I was kind of written off as 'unsuccessful surgery' last season. To be pitching in the big leagues again ... knowing there's a lot more baseball left in me, it's a good place to be."
On Saturday night, Ross' ERA jumped to 4.41, and he allowed four runs in the second inning. The first five hitters all reached base in the frame -- including the first three via walks. But he settled in and finished with five innings, three strikeouts and those four earned runs. At the plate, he tied the game in the fourth with an RBI single.
It stayed tied until the eighth, when the typically reliable Padres bullpen coughed up three runs. Right-hander Phil Maton put two men on base, before closer Kirby Yates surrendered a two-run double to Jon Jay. Paul Goldschmidt plated Jay with an RBI single one batter later, and the D-backs led, 7-4.
As for Ross, there are clearly question marks surrounding the 31-year-old right-hander as a trade candidate. But the starting-pitcher market is thin, and Ross could be packaged with one of the Padres' late-inning relievers to net a better haul in return.
"All that's out of my control," Ross said. "I love this team and these guys. I'd love to keep fighting here. If I get traded, hopefully it's a team that's contending. … But it's all out of my control. I love this team, and it's been good to see these guys grow."
He'll learn his fate by 1 p.m. PT Tuesday.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Mashin' Manny:Manuel Margot extended his career-high hitting streak to nine games with an RBI double in the third inning. He scored one batter later on Wil Myers' two-run double, which cut the Padres' deficit to 4-3. Margot's first two months at the plate were dreadful, forcing a complete overhaul of his swing mechanics. It's paid major dividends. Since the start of June, Margot is hitting .307/.383/.467.
New-look 'pen: Since last week's trade that sent Brad Hand and Adam Cimber to Cleveland, Maton has been rock-solid in several high-leverage spots. But he faltered on Saturday, allowing a leadoff single to Daniel Descalso and a one-out walk to Chris Owings. With the go-ahead run on third, manager Andy Green called for his new closer, Yates, with one out in the eighth.
"[Jay] is a contact-oriented hitter with the game-winning run on the line at third base," Green said. "You're going to go with your best strikeout guy, and that's Kirby Yates."
Yates surrendered his first two baserunners and his first run since the trade.
SOUND SMART Patrick Corbin helped his own cause in the second inning with an RBI single that put the D-backs up, 2-0. But Ross returned the favor in the fourth with an RBI knock, tying the game at 4.
Corbin and Ross finished with two hits apiece, marking the first time since 2016 that opposing starting pitchers both recorded two hits in the same game. Corbin was involved in that game as well, recording two hits, while the Pirates' Gerrit Cole did the same.
HE SAID IT "I love it here. I've had the same locker for [five] seasons here. They gave me a second chance. Then they gave me a third chance. The people in this building are special. I'd love to come back. It's a good place, it's a good environment, a good community. I'm a free agent at the end of this one. This is one of the 30 places that I'd love to be." -- Ross, on potentially re-signing with the Padres, even if he's traded next week
ROSTER MOVE The Padres are expected to activate right-hander Jordan Lyles (right-elbow inflammation) before Sunday's series finale, optioning outfielder Franmil Reyes to Triple-A El Paso. It's unclear what role Lyles will fill, but he could serve as temporary bullpen help before moving into a rotation spot.
Lyles, who struggled in two rehab starts, allowing 11 runs in 5 2/3 innings, is a candidate to fill the rotation spot vacated by the injured Luis Perdomo. Of course, the San Diego rotation could undergo further shuffling ahead of Tuesday's Trade Deadline, anyway.
Reyes' playing time had grown scarce in a crowded Padres outfield. He's hitting .221/.270/.423 this season, but the Padres want the 23-year-old slugger receiving everyday at-bats, prompting the move.
UP NEXT Rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi beat Jacob deGrom in his last outing. He hasn't completed six innings since his return from a right hip strain last month. But he owns a 2.75 ERA in his last four starts. Lucchesi will get the ball for the series finale on Sunday afternoon with first pitch slated for 1:10 p.m. PT. The D-backs counter with right-hander Clay Buchholz.