Manny gives SD good news on tough night

May 12th, 2021

On Tuesday night in Colorado, the Padres didn't have superstar shortstop , who landed on the injured list because of a positive COVID-19 test. They didn't have or either, as both undergo MLB's contact tracing protocols.

The news got worse as the night went on. exited in the third inning after the team was notified of his positive test, and left in the seventh due to contact tracing protocols.

On top of all that, pitched just two innings as he continues his distressingly slow buildup. It was cold. It was wet. The Rockies took an early lead.

The Padres won anyway. They still have , after all.

Machado hit a go-ahead two-run homer and a game-breaking three-run triple as the Padres cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Rockies in Tuesday’s series opener at Coors Field.

“It’s definitely been a down day and an unfortunate situation that’s going on,” Machado said. “But we have a great group of guys in there that step in for each other.”

It’s been a bit of a grind for Machado, who hasn’t had much to show for his hard contact this season. He entered play Tuesday night hitting just .228/.322/.362, despite ranking in the 94th percentile in exit velocity and the 97th percentile in hard-hit rate.

Eventually, the Padres insisted, those hits would fall. And perhaps Tuesday night marked the start of Machado’s inevitable breakout.

In the top of the fifth inning, Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela hung a slider, and Machado made no mistake, sending it a projected 431 feet into the left-field seats. The Padres -- who were suffering from a team-wide lack of batted ball luck up to that point -- suddenly had a 2-1 lead.

An inning later, they built on it. Machado came to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth, and he promptly unloaded them with a triple that split the right-center-field gap. Machado’s two bases-clearing triples this season are the Padres’ only two extra-base hits with the bases loaded.

“It’s a byproduct of just having really good at-bats, one through nine, and Manny came up with some huge RBIs tonight,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler.

In his final trip to the plate, Machado endured a bit of an injury scare. He fouled a pitch squarely off his left shin in the top of the eighth inning. The Padres led by seven runs on a bitter cold night. Machado insisted he stay in the game and worked a walk.

“Especially when it’s 41 degrees out there and windy and cold, it’s not a good feeling,” Machado said. “At least I squared [the ball] up.”

Machado’s big night was just what the Padres needed after an unsettling afternoon. Tatis had landed on the IL mere hours prior, leaving San Diego with a gaping hole at the top of its lineup. The absences of Profar and Mateo stung, too. Myers and Hosmer would soon join them.

As for Lamet, he clearly still isn’t quite the dominant pitcher we saw in 2020. His fastball velocity remains in the low-to-mid 90s and it averaged 93.7 mph on Tuesday night. (Last year, Lamet’s fastball averaged an even 97.)

Nonetheless -- and this is the important part -- Lamet reported feeling healthy afterward. He’s been built up slowly this season after sustaining a UCL strain last September, and he even had a setback late last month when he landed on the IL with forearm tightness. But Lamet pitched two innings and allowed a run and a hit without any elbow issues.

“I honestly feel good right now,” Lament said. “I came out of that game feeling like nothing was wrong and I could’ve kept pitching.”

The Padres continued to play it safe, and right-hander relieved Lamet expertly with three scoreless frames -- the first three of seven remarkable shutout innings from the bullpen at Coors Field.

Considering the turbulent day the Padres had, they’d have had excuses aplenty lined up on Tuesday night.

Instead, they found a way into the win column.