Padres hit all the right notes in 'great team win' vs. A's

June 11th, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- In some ways, this was a straightforward Padres victory over a team that, frankly, they’re expected to beat.

San Diego opened its series against Oakland by cruising to a 6-1 win on Monday night at Petco Park. and went deep. pitched six innings of one-run ball. The Padres tacked on three late runs against the A’s bullpen.

“The combination that we got tonight, it’s a blueprint, really,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Tonight is a blueprint for winning baseball games.”

Again -- aside from a three-minute delay when half of the stadium’s lights went out in the seventh inning -- this was as straightforward as it gets.

And the Padres will relish it. Because so often this season, it’s been anything but.

These Padres have shown regular glimpses of being the playoff contenders they feel they are. In the past month, they’ve won series against the Dodgers, Braves and Royals. But they’ve also been swept by the Rockies and Angels in that span. Which is a pretty apt summary of why, through 70 games, the Padres are a .500 team, moving to 35-35 with Monday’s victory.

To put it simply, they need more nights like this one.

“This is definitely something we can keep going, keep doing this,” said Tatis, whose opposite-field home run gave the Padres a two-run lead in the fifth.

Tatis extended his hitting streak to 16 games with the latest example of his all-fields power. He’s now homered three times in the last four games -- to left on Friday, to straightaway center on Sunday and to right field on Monday.

It was a remarkable piece of hitting on a pitch about three inches off the plate. But that’s just the way it’s been going for Tatis in June. After a poor May, Tatis has more than made up for it with a .439 batting average and four homers already this month.

“It’s definitely clicking,” Tatis said.

He’s not the only one. Rookie Jackson Merrill pounded out three hits on Monday. Manny Machado, who made his return to the starting lineup after missing three games with a strained right hip flexor, had two knocks. So did Cronenworth.

San Diego used the long ball to grab an early lead, while Cease kept the A’s in check. From there, the Padres tacked on with a seventh-inning rally that featured two singles, two walks, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly. As Shildt alluded to, it was quite a blueprint.

“Baseball rarely works out that way,” Cease said. “A lot of times it’s about competing and grinding and winning that way. Some days when everything clicks, you dominate. Today was a great team win. On all fronts, really good.”

The Padres had yet to score during their seventh-inning rally, when the lights on the right side of the stadium went out. Donovan Solano was at the plate, behind in the count against A’s rookie Michel Otañez.

“That was so rare,” Solano said. “I definitely didn't expect that here. That happened to me in winter ball. … I said, 'Wow, that doesn't happen here.' That's a battle, a 1-2 count. But I was still ready.”

Solano would work a feisty eight-pitch walk, and the floodgates opened. Merrill followed with a single, and Ha-Seong Kim tacked on a sacrifice fly.

“Great at-bats throughout,” Shildt said. “Guys had the right kind of focus and intent, and the execution has been really good.”

That hasn’t always been the case in games like this one. The Padres entered play Monday just 21-24 against teams with sub-.500 records. They were 15-21 at Petco Park. Still, because of the topsy-turvy nature of the National League, they entered play sitting in the second NL Wild Card spot.

Then again, it’s worth pointing out the precarious nature of that position. The Padres sit atop a cluster of nine teams in that race who are separated by four games. Yes, there’s still a long way to go. But in theory, there might only be room in the playoffs for two of them.

In the scope of that race, nights like Monday will be critical. The Padres played a game they should’ve won -- and they won it. Comfortably.