Padres feeling confident after continued dominance at Truist Park

May 21st, 2024

ATLANTA -- After the Padres were swept by the Rockies to fall under .500 last week, San Diego was in need of a bounceback. But the journey seemingly didn’t get any easier with a four-game series in Atlanta looming.

The Padres certainly did bounce back, winning three of four games against the Braves as San Diego continued its dominance at Truist Park.

The series may have ended on a sour note -- a 3-0 loss in the finale -- but there were plenty of positives for San Diego.

After splitting Monday’s day-night doubleheader with the Braves, the Padres have won 10 of their past 14 games at Truist Park dating back to 2021.

“It’s not an [easy environment to play in],” Padres manager Mike Shildt said of his team’s dominance in Atlanta. “I can’t explain [winning in Atlanta]. I wish I could. We’d bottle it [up]. Guys are ready to play here and we have good results.

“We’re always looking to win series and the guys played really well. They played good baseball the whole time and fought their tails off. We’ll take three out of four and move on.”

The Padres (25-25) won the first two games by scores of 3-1 and 9-1. In those games, San Diego starting pitchers held the Braves (27-17) to one run on seven hits. Matt Waldron and Yu Darvish combined to strike out 19 Atlanta batters, issuing three walks.

As a cherry on top, Darvish became just the third Japanese-born player to reach 200 combined wins between MLB (107) and Nippon Professional Baseball (93).

Games 3 and 4 were played as a Monday doubleheader after inclement weather postponed Saturday’s matchup. The Padres used a five-run comeback to win Game 3, 6-5, before Atlanta salvaged the nightcap.

In Game 3, Atlanta took an early 5-0 lead, but Manny Machado and Co. stormed back with six unanswered runs, featuring a four-run eighth during which the Padres took their first lead of the game.

“I love this team,” Shildt said after the comeback. “I love its grit. It’s the definition of winners finding solutions. [I] give credit to a lot of the guys there.”

Dylan Cease started Game 3 and struggled in his return to his home state of Georgia. He allowed five runs on nine hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked two.

The San Diego bullpen picked Cease up, though, as four hurlers combined for five scoreless innings of relief.

“What a comeback,” Cease said. “They definitely picked me up today. I didn’t execute well. I didn’t get in a rhythm. And [the Braves] just had a lot of good at-bats. I got beat today. [It was a] great pick-up by the bullpen. This just shows the fight that this team has.”

In the series, the Padres' bullpen pitched 12 1/3 innings while allowing just one run.

“[Enyel De Los Santos] and Wandy Peralta were good today in the seventh and eighth [of the finale],” Shildt said. “We got some really good bullpen work in the first two games with [Jeremiah] Estrada and [Robert] Suarez. Guys were really getting big outs. They’ve done a nice job.”

The strong bullpen work set the table for the Game 1 comeback and San Diego’s offensive eruption against Braves reliever Joe Jiménez. Prior to Monday, Jiménez had only given up runs in two of his 17 outings this season.

Machado and Jake Cronenworth were the heroes, as they each had two-run knocks in the eighth.

“[I’ve been] facing [Jiménez] for quite a bit now and it’s tough,” Machado said. “He’s got good stuff -- a good fastball and good slider. I’m just trying to get something in the zone. He walked [Jurickson] Profar there. That was a big walk. Obviously [Ha-Seong Kim] started off the inning, as well. We got going and we tried to get them in the zone and try to do some damage.”

The Padres ran into a buzzsaw named Chris Sale in the series finale. Sale went seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and striking out nine.

“I thought Sale was really good,” Shildt said. “He changed speeds. The secondary stuff was really good. The fastball had some life to it. He pitched really well.”

There was some bad news for the Padres, though, as second baseman Xander Bogaerts exited in the third inning of the doubleheader opener with left shoulder inflammation. Initial tests were negative but the Padres are awaiting further imaging.

Bogaerts did not play in the series finale, with Luis Arraez taking over for him at second base.