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Kinsler's emphatic 3-run shot helps SD snap skid

Infielder is unusually animated after HR ends weeks of frustration
@AJCassavell
May 17, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Ian Kinsler took out seven weeks’ worth of frustration on a hanging slider from Richard Rodriguez. The baseball soared toward the Western Metal Supply Building. Kinsler watched it. He took three strides up the first-base line. Then, the veteran second baseman did something he doesn’t do often.

SAN DIEGO -- Ian Kinsler took out seven weeks’ worth of frustration on a hanging slider from Richard Rodriguez.

The baseball soared toward the Western Metal Supply Building. Kinsler watched it. He took three strides up the first-base line. Then, the veteran second baseman did something he doesn’t do often.

Box score

He flipped his bat. Subtle, end-over-end, one flick of the wrist. After two perfect rotations, the bat hit the ground, and Kinsler rounded the bases. His three-run homer in the sixth inning gave the Padres a two-run lead in their eventual 4-3 victory over the Pirates on Thursday night.

“I'm telling you, I've been frustrated,” Kinsler said. “I've been frustrated with the way I've been playing, and I want to contribute. That one felt good.”

It was quite the moment. Kinsler strode to the plate with two on and two out in the sixth, the Padres in the midst of one of their sloppiest games this season. They’d committed three errors -- and at least as many defensive miscues that weren’t even ruled errors.

Kinsler himself had misplayed a tricky fly ball behind second base, and he was 0-for-2 on the night, dropping his season average to .169. The Padres signed the 36-year-old infielder to a two-year deal in December. He’d done little to justify that contract since.

“I've been struggling,” Kinsler said. “To finally come up with a big hit like that, I was fired up.”

Perhaps a little too fired up. Cameras caught Kinsler gesturing toward the crowd and yelling expletives as he returned to the dugout. But he said those weren’t intended for the fans in the area.

"No, [it wasn't directed at the fans]," Kinsler said. "I'm trying to get my guys fired up. ... I'm a passionate player, it's a big moment, I'm trying to get my guys going. We have all kinds of inside jokes and stuff that we have. We're together every day, and we've been together for three months. I'm trying to get my guys going."

Kinsler added that he’s been deaf to the criticism from the fan base, noting: “We need the fans. That's important in the ballpark, you need the fans behind you, and you need the fans to bring energy every day.”

Of course, one at-bat won’t change everything. But Kinsler proved immensely valuable on Thursday night. His homer gave the Padres a jolt after their shaky start.

“He's not afraid of the big moment, not afraid of the opportunity,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “He wants it. He seized it today. It was a big swing for the club.”

Machado dazzles again

Manny Machado’s glove is golden, no matter where he plays.

Machado has been excellent since he made the transition from third base to shortstop when Fernando Tatis Jr. went down with a hamstring injury. That continued on Thursday night.

The prized free-agent signing ranged to his left on a Kevin Newman grounder. He gloved it, spun, and threw from his knees on one hop.

“He’s just unbelievable,” Padres starter Eric Lauer said. “It kind of works not in his favor. You expect him to make plays that he shouldn’t make. He’s just unbelievable. That’s the only way you can put it.”

“You see all the highlights of Machado on ESPN, all the amazing plays he makes,” said Newman, who went 2-for-4. “There’s another one to add to his resume. Unfortunately, it was against me. But it was a great play. I came back, got a couple hits. Can’t complain.”

No no-nos

When Adam Frazier ripped a single into left field in the third inning, the Padres had officially tallied their 8,020th game without a no-hitter. No other franchise has begun its existence with more.

The Mets previously held the record with 8,019, before Johan Santana’s no-no in June 2012. It’s not quite the all-time record for a no-hitter gap, however. That belongs to the Phillies, who went without one for 8,945 games from 1906 to 1964.

Nonetheless, Lauer was sharp over 5 2/3 innings -- even if his defense wasn’t behind him. The Padres committed two errors in the second, and they essentially left four outs on the table in the fifth. But the second-year left-hander limited the damage in both cases. Lauer’s escape act set the stage for theatrics from -- of all people -- Kinsler.

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