Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Padres News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Tatis' monumental bat flip fires up Friars

@AJCassavell
October 2, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- The high-flying, tater-mashing, bat-flipping Padres have finally arrived in the postseason. And not a moment too soon. Staring down elimination in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series, the Padres slugged their way back from a four-run deficit on Thursday to even the series with

SAN DIEGO -- The high-flying, tater-mashing, bat-flipping Padres have finally arrived in the postseason. And not a moment too soon.

Staring down elimination in Game 2 of the National League Wild Card Series, the Padres slugged their way back from a four-run deficit on Thursday to even the series with a bonkers 11-9 victory over the Cardinals. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s emphatic bat flip -- following his second home run of the game -- served as the perfect exclamation point.

Game Date Matchup TV
Gm 1 Sept. 30 STL 7, SD 4 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 1 SD 11, STL 9 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 2 SD 4, STL 0 Watch

Tatis sent an opposite-field blast soaring toward the right-field deck at Petco Park. The moment he hit it, the superstar shortstop turned toward the San Diego dugout, held the knob of the bat in his left hand, then he unleashed.

Five glorious revolutions before the bat hit the ground. Nine purposeful steps before Tatis burst into his home run trot.

The Padres were alive. Tatis had arrived.

Box score

“Since I was a kid,” Tatis said, “that’s what we play for.”

With five home runs, a franchise postseason record, the Padres earned their first playoff win at Petco Park. Now, they’ll need another on Friday in a winner-take-all Game 3. After using 17 pitchers through two games, it’s anyone’s guess how they’ll piece together nine innings.

“Everybody is going to have to step up,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler, who added that he had “no idea” who would take the ball first.

But that’s a problem for another day. After a memorable 20-run thriller, Tingler and the Padres deserved a moment to revel in the franchise’s largest postseason comeback. San Diego dug itself an early four-run deficit for the second consecutive night, as starter Zach Davies was chased after two innings.

“They’ve got big bats,” said Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, who took Davies deep. “They can put up runs in a hurry. We were doing our best to keep them down, but a team this good, they’re going to step up eventually.”

The Padres still trailed by four in the sixth when Cardinals manager Mike Shildt called for Giovanny Gallegos to face Tatis with two men aboard. Gallegos hung a slider, and Tatis sent it whistling into the left-field seats. A once-nervy Padres dugout erupted.

“That home run may have just lifted a little bit of weight off the shoulders,” Tingler said. “It was, ‘All right, there it is. That was our first blow. That was our first punch we landed. Now it’s time to get to work.’”

SD needs spark? Who else but Tatis, Manny? | Machado's promise to fans

Said Tatis: “I feel like we needed that big swing for the entire team, to get us going. Whoever did it first, we were going to feed off of that.”

They feasted on it. Manny Machado followed with a solo blast seven pitches later -- the Padres’ first back-to-back postseason home runs since Tony Gwynn and Greg Vaughn in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series. Tie game.

In the seventh, Wil Myers gave the Padres the lead with a missile that only barely stayed fair down the left-field line. Tatis added to that cushion with his two-run shot and his ensuing bat flip -- an instant challenger of Jose Bautista’s for the best in postseason history.

Thing is, it might not even be Tatis’ all-time best postseason bat flip. He referenced a bat flip from a walk-off blast he hit for Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League in January 2019 (a team managed by Fernando Tatis Sr.).

“I had one in winter ball around there, a little bit bigger,” Tatis Jr. said when asked about Thursday’s flip. “It was just the momentum of the game, and I'm just happy we won.”

The Padres weren’t done after Tatis’ second homer. Myers ensured a bit of history in the eighth with his second home run of the night, as well. Myers and Tatis join a rather illustrious pair of sluggers as the only teammates in postseason history with multiple homers in the same game. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig did so 88 years ago to the day -- Ruth’s fabled called-shot game.

Myers, told of this fact after the game, reacted in shock, stumbling before he could produce an answer.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said, laughing in disbelief. “Pretty cool to be in a category with those names, even Tatis. Those players are great players.”

Ruth and Gehrig. Tatis and Myers.

“If you’re in the record books with those guys, you’re doing something right,” Tatis said.

Two days into his first postseason, Tatis is already rewriting those record books.

And he’s doing it with his usual bat-flipping flair.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.