Padres stay winless in extras as Deadline fortune remains unclear

August 1st, 2023

DENVER -- If the Padres are the sport’s hardest team to solve ahead of Tuesday's Trade Deadline, there’s a good reason for it. They've been the sport's hardest team to solve for four months now.

The Padres arrived in Colorado on Monday having swept the first-place Rangers over the weekend, in search of their first four-game winning streak of the season. What better statement could they possibly make ahead of the Deadline? Instead, what ensued on a rain-soaked night at Coors Field felt all too familiar.

In a season full of gut-punching losses, there haven’t been many worse than this. The Padres waited out a rain delay of two hours, 20 minutes, then rallied to tie the game in the ninth inning on Trent Grisham’s two-out homer, only to lose, 4-3, after a 10th inning in which they loaded the bases with nobody out and came up empty.

The loss dropped the Padres to 0-10 in extras, two losses shy of the 1969 Expos (0-12) for the worst mark to start a season. They’re 6-18 in one-run games and remain in search of that elusive four-game winning streak.

“You know, we just swept a series, and we felt like [if] we come into this place and have another good series, we were going to be right there,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This is just another game that tests our resolve. We have to come out tomorrow and win.”

But first there are oh-so-many questions left to be answered ahead of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. PT Deadline. The Padres, typically one of the sport’s most aggressive teams on the trade market, have been uncharacteristically quiet. So far.

It remains wholly unclear whether they intend to buy or sell or both or neither. They were always likely to wait to act, given their precarious position in the standings. But there are no more games left before that Deadline, and the nature of their position is still murky.

The Padres are 52-55, five games out of a playoff spot, needing to jump three teams to get there. Their peripheral numbers -- including a +62 run differential that ranks third in the National League -- indicate they’re a better team than their record would indicate. But what’s that worth? Not much on another night like this one.

“Just continue to fight,” Grisham said. “I don’t think this team is lacking that. We’re just waiting for things to turn, man. We’ve got the most exciting part of the schedule coming up. I believe in all the guys in this clubhouse. We’re going to rally and go for these last [55] games. We’ll just keep fighting.”

What choice do they have? They insist they’ll start winning these eminently winnable games eventually. But the nature of Monday’s loss really made you wonder. Starter Seth Lugo was cruising until fifth-inning errors from the sure-handed Grisham and Xander Bogaerts led to a pair of runs, giving the Rockies a lead.

In the eighth, with the Padres still trailing by a run, Bogaerts singled to center, but Juan Soto was thrown out by a huge margin at the plate. Afterward, Melvin gave third-base coach Matt Williams a pass for sending Soto, largely because he felt it was worth testing the Rockies defense on a wet field. Center fielder Brenton Doyle was up to the task.

“It doesn’t look good when you get thrown out by a little bit,” Melvin said. “But when he sent him, I wasn’t saying ‘no.’ I understood the conditions.”

After Grisham’s game-tying homer, the 10th inning brough its own category of calamity. The Padres loaded the bases with nobody out. Then Bogaerts grounded into a forceout, Cronenworth lined out and Gary Sánchez grounded out. 

Presented an opportunity in the bottom of the 10th on a poor bunt from Doyle, Manny Machado simply dropped the baseball as automatic runner Elehuris Montero slid into his tag. Three batters later, Ryan McMahon’s sacrifice fly ended a long, long night.

Afterward, a frustrated Bogaerts shouldered the burden for the loss. He grounded into a pair of double plays, committed a crucial error and failed to get a run home with the bases loaded in the 10th.

“This one feels even worse,” Bogaerts said. “Because this one’s on me. I felt great going into today, and I just didn’t do my job. It was one of those days where you had a bad day at work. I played like trash. Looking forward to tomorrow.”

Technically, “later today” would’ve been more accurate. Bogaerts uttered those words well after midnight Mountain Time. 

It was officially Deadline Day. And nobody in the Padres clubhouse seemed to know what it might bring.