When the Padres woke up on Friday morning they were in St. Louis, about to start a 3-game series against the Cardinals, the team they trail by a half game for the 2nd and final National League Wild Card spot.
They went to sleep with two teams between them and a return trip to the playoffs.
The Padres lost 8-2 at Busch Stadium, falling 1.5 games behind St. Louis. The Reds beat the Dodgers so Cincinnati leapfrogged San Diego and sit one full game back of the Redbirds.
The newly-acquired Vince Velasquez made his San Diego debut. He was signed after the Phillies let him go because the Padres needed someone to eat innings after Chris Paddack and Blake Snell landed on the Injured List. His 1st inning was a little shaky.
La Jolla Country Day alum Tommy Edman led off with a double and scored on a single by Paul Goldschmidt, who scored when Tyler O'Neill launched a no-doubt home run to left field. The Padres were down 3-0 after three batters but after that Velasquez was much better.
He retired the next 11 Cardinals hitters in a row, a streak that was snapped by a Dylan Carlson solo home run. Velasquez gave up four runs in 4.0 innings with four strikeouts. That Carlson homer was the last run the Cardinals scored. Dinelson Lamet tossed 2.0 shutout innings, and Ryan Weathers handled a perfect 7th. We'll talk about the 8th in a minute because there was some history made that nobody wants to see made.
The Padres, meanwhile, could not figure out Miles Mikolas. The former Friar threw 5.2 shutout innings with three punchouts. San Diego finally broke through against the bullpen, thanks to a guy with a broken finger.
With the bases loaded in the 7th inning Jake Cronenworth, who's been out of the lineup for almost a week since suffering a broken finger when he was hit by a pitch in Los Angeles, came on to pinch-hit for Lamet. Facing Luis Garcia's 99-MPH head, Cronenworth hit a fly ball deep enough to centerfield to bring in Tommy Pham with the Padres first run of the night. Jurickson Profar followed with a single to score Eric Hosmer and cut the lead to 4-2 with an MVP hopeful stepping in.
Fernando Tatis Jr. has provided plenty of big moments for the Friars but he can't do it every time. Tatis popped up to 1st base to end the threat. The Padres offense that finally showed signs of life the previous two days in San Francisco couldn't get any closer.
In the bottom of the 8th inning Austin Adams came on. He gave up a double and a walk then totally lost his command. Adams hit future Hall of Fame catcher Yadier Molina with an errant slider, the 24th batter Adams has hit this year. That sets a new Major League Baseball single-season record and what's truly astonishing is he did it in 50 innings.
Adams was pulled for newly-acquired Ross Detwiler, who promptly gave up a grand slam to Carlson that put it to bed.
Last year the Padres knocked the Cardinals out of the playoffs. If the rest of this series goes like this, in 2021 the Cardinals will keep the Padres out of the playoffs. Game 2 is Saturday evening when Yu Darvish takes the ball against Adam Wainwright.
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