Ryan Weathers started the 2021 season in the Padres bullpen. He may never have to go back there again.
Weathers, who made the Opening Day roster with a fantastic Spring Training and dazzled as a reliever, made his first Major League start a week ago against the Dodgers and looked pretty good. He made his second big league start on Thursday, also against L.A. but this time at Dodger Stadium, and was even better. Alas, he didn't get a win.
The 21-year-old lefty tossed 5.2 shutout innings, gave up one hit and struck out six but didn't get the decision in a 3-2 win over the Dodgers to start a pivotal 4-game series at Chavez Ravine (as much as a series can be pivotal in April, that is).
The Padres scored first against Dodgers starter Walker Buehler. Fernando Tatis Jr. led off the 4th inning with a line drive single up the middle and stole 2nd base. Manny Machado lined a single to left to bring in Tatis for a 1-0 San Diego lead.
In the 6th inning Buehler tried to throw a fastball up and in to Trent Grisham and the Padres centerfielder unloaded. Grisham smoked a solo homer deep into the right field pavilion, his 4th of the year to take the team home run lead and double the lead to 2-0.
Weathers started the bottom of the 6th and got the first two outs, the 2nd one on a great play by 2nd baseman Jake Cronenworth to rob Corey Seager of a base hit, before manager Jayce Tingler got him after 89 pitches. Weathers has gone 10.2 straight scoreless innings against the reigning World Series champs, in the process dropping his season ERA to a miniscule 0.59.
He deserved the win. He didn't get it. In the 7th inning Emilio Pagan gave up back-to-back home runs to A.J. Pollock and Sheldon Neuse to tie it up and remove Weathers as the pitcher of record (and proved once again how stupid the pitcher wins stat is in today's baseball).
In the top of the 8th Jurickson Profar and Victor Caratini singled, then Tatis grounded into a double play that allowed Profar to score and make it a 3-2 game. But, as we're going to see all year, nothing is ever easy when these teams get together.
In the bottom of the 8th the Dodgers put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out against Nabil Crismatt so Tingler went to Tim Hill. The lefty got Max Muncy to ground out to Cronenworth at 2nd and keep the runners put then intentionally walked Pollock to load the bases with one out.
Then we saw something incredible.
Neuse hit a missile that looked like it was ticketed for centerfield but Cronenworth somehow knocked it down and flipped to Tatis, who made the turn and threw a laser to Eric Hosmer at 1st for one of the best double plays anyone will see all year. The acrobatics kept it a 1-run game and this time it didn't get away.
Closer Mark Melancon worked a perfect 9th inning to get his league-leading 6th save and even the season series with L.A. 2-2. It also kept the Padres from dipping under .500 for the first time in 2021.
Same two teams go at it again on Friday night with Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw on the mound in another meeting of All-Star hurlers.
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