SD cruises as Lyles flirts with perfection

May 15th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- wasn't perfect on Tuesday afternoon against his old club, but he was pretty darn close.
The 27-year-old right-hander came five outs shy of etching his name into the Padres' record books before broke up his bid at a perfect game with a line-drive single into left field. When the ball dropped in front of , the Padres -- who won, 4-0 -- had reached 7,858 games in franchise history without a no-hitter.
"This is only my second season here, so I haven't heard those rumbles that often," Lyles said. "But I am aware. … Overall, it's just so tough. You've got to have so many things go your way. We'll get it. Sometime."
"Sometime" could've been Tuesday afternoon, and that much became evident quickly. Lyles needed 31 pitches to cruise through the Rockies' order a first time, recording five of his 10 strikeouts in the process.

"In the bullpen, [his stuff] was great," said Padres catcher Raffy Lopez. "That's a pretty good lineup over there, and he just had it going."
Story's single was the first blemish on an otherwise brilliant effort from Lyles, who spent four seasons with the Rockies, floating between the rotation and the bullpen. He was released last August and exacted a small bit of revenge on Tuesday.
Lyles threw 85 pitches, 64 for strikes, and he reached only one three-ball count before Story's at-bat in the eighth. He opened the frame by striking out with a filthy curveball, then threw a first-pitch strike to Story. Lopez signaled for a high fastball, then a curve in the dirt. Lyles shook on both.
"I'm not going to fight him," Lopez said. "He was dealing. … He shook to a pitch I thought had been a good pitch for him the whole game."
Lyles went with his slider, and he located it perfectly on the outside corner. Story ripped it into left.

"After we struck out CarGo, that's when it kind of got real for me," Lyles said. "The crowd started getting loud. Then we made two good pitches to Trevor. The slider down and away -- it was a good pitch. That was exactly where I wanted to throw that pitch."
As a disheartened Lyles crouched on the side of the mound, the Petco Park crowd roared its approval. His bid at a perfect game was the second longest in franchise history. Right-hander Chris Young came four outs shy in 2008.
When Lyles rose to his feet, he grinned toward Story at first base, and Story reciprocated. The two former teammates had become close during their time together in Colorado.
"I wish no one would've gotten a hit off me," Lyles said. "But he's an outstanding guy, a great dude."

Tuesday marked the 30th time the Padres have limited an opponent to one hit. Their history is littered with close calls.
Earlier this season, came four outs from a no-hitter in Arizona before doubled over Cordero's head. In 1972, Steve Arlin came closest, recording 26 outs before Denny Doyle chopped a single over third base. Two years prior, they infamously pinch-hit for Clay Kirby, who was working on a no-no in the bottom of the eighth.
"In those moments, just like everybody else, I want to see something special," Padres manager Andy Green said. "And we did see something very special today. But we're looking for five more outs."
Perhaps flustered, Lyles -- who had showcased nothing but pinpoint command all afternoon -- walked the next hitter. Having been promoted to the rotation last week, Lyles' 85 pitches were a season high. Green wasn't taking any chances, as he called upon his bullpen. and Brad Hand recorded an out apiece in the frame, and the Padres escaped.

"You're just not going to let an outing get away from somebody," Green said. "That's emotional, once a hit falls and you walk the next guy. You've got two really good bullpen guys you can go to, and they did a really good job closing it out."
Lyles has been excellent all season, showcasing a devastating high-velocity curveball that he tinkered with during the offseason. He lowered his ERA to 2.53 and has been very good since his move to the rotation.
Lyles has earned the right to stick there. Lyles' 10 strikeouts on Tuesday matched a career high, and he finished with 7 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
It wasn't quite history, but as redemption tales go, it'll suffice.

Eric Homers: gave Lyles some breathing room with a two-run homer in the first. The blast broke up something of a mini-slump for the slugging first baseman, who was 8-for-44 (.182) in his past 12 games. Hosmer had struck out only eight times in that stretch, but he was making very weak contact. There was nothing weak about his dinger. He smashed it 396 feet with an exit velocity of 102 mph -- the fourth time this season he has gone deep at home and the sixth overall.

He's back: 's weeks-long slump appears to have come to an end. On Monday night, the Padres' third baseman snapped an 0-for-37 drought with a single. On Tuesday, he tacked on two more hits, including a monstrous sixth-inning homer into the second deck in left field. Villanueva, April's National League Rookie of the Month Award winner, flipped his bat before trotting to first. He's hit four of his 10 homers this year against the Rockies.

Lyles' brilliant performance overshadowed a personal milestone for Padres rookie outfielder . And at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, it's not easy to overshadow Reyes.

With one out in the sixth inning, Reyes laced a single into center field for his first career hit. He was removed for pinch-runner/defensive replacement , while the Petco Park fans offered an ovation.
"As long as you're around baseball, watching a guy get his first hit is about as special of an event as you're going to see," Green said. "... That's the happiest I've ever seen somebody coming out of the game in the sixth inning."

"It would've been sweet regardless. I know a lot of those guys close, and I had some fun with them, going back and forth. … But I wasn't like, 'Here, take that.' It's a baseball game. It was my second start. I'm trying to put good outings together." -- Lyles, on the possibility of no-hitting his former club
The Padres have a rare Wednesday off-day before they open a four-game series in Pittsburgh with on the mound. The rookie left-hander was tagged for four homers and couldn't make it through the third inning on Friday against the Cardinals. He's eager to put that start behind him, and to do so, he'll need to see an uptick in his fastball velocity, which dipped to an average of 89 mph on Friday night. First pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m. PT.