The Padres are in the playoffs.
Not much of the rest of this story will matter, at least not right now, because the San Diego Padres, for the first time in 14 years, are going to play in the post-season.
The Friars beat the Mariners 7-4 on Sunday afternoon to secure at least a National League Wild Card spot. There wasn't a whole lot of bubbly splashed about (so is the world of COVID-19). But the happiness of the moment was etched all over the faces of the team that A.J. Preller and his staff has assembled.
Starter Dinelson Lamet was stellar. He allowed just one run on two hits and punched out 10 in 6.0 innings. His counterpart was up to the challenge.
Mariners starter Justin Dunn had a no-hitter going in the 6th inning when he gave up a ground-rule double to Mitch Moreland. Eric Hosmer, who had walked, would have scored if the ball hadn't bounced over the fence so instead of tying the game San Diego was still down 1-0. Dunn was left in to face Wil Myers. It turned out to be one hitter too many.
Myers, really the first major piece Preller added to this year's roster, smashed a 3-run home run to dead centerfield to put the Friars on top 3-1. After that it was up to the bullpen.
Drew Pomeranz tossed a scoreless 7th but Emilio Pagan coughed up a 2-run homer to Dylan Moore to tie it up 3-3. Pierce Johnson handled a scoreless 9th inning so, since the Padres fans have waited a decade and a half for the playoffs, they might as well wait a little longer for extra innings.
In the top of the 10th both teams took advantage of a new rule. Jorge Mateo started at 2nd base. He moved to 3rd on a ground ball, then Fernando Tatis Jr. came up huge. El Nino singled on the first pitch he saw to score Mateo from 3rd and put the Padres on top 4-3.
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In came Trevor Rosenthal, the closer Preller got at the trade deadline to replace the injured Kirby Yates. Tim Lopes started the inning on 2nd base, then advanced to 3rd and scored on a pair of sacrifice flies. To the 11th it went!
Moreland popped a double down the left field line to score Manny Machado and put the Padres up 5-4. This time they were able to get a little more breathing room.
Jurickson Profar singled home Moreland to make it 6-4, then Moore booted a Trent Grisham ground ball to allow another run to score. Rosenthal went back out for the bottom half and made the lead stand up.
This has been a looooooong time coming. In 2006 the Padres won the National League West division title for the second straight season. They also got knocked out of the National League Division Series by the St. Louis Cardinals for the second straight season.
Over the next 13 years they went a combined 966-1,141, a whopping 175 games below .500, and had a winning record just twice (89 wins in 2007 WHEN MATT HOLLIDAY DIDN'T TOUCH THE PLATE and 90 wins in 2010 when they lost to the Giants on the final day of the season then watched San Francisco and former San Diego skipper Bruce Bochy start a string of three World Series titles in five years not that we think about that too often).
The Padres still have work to do. They have a chance to lock up the 4th seed in the National League playoffs, which means they'll get to host the first round, best-of-3 series.
Playoff baseball in San Diego. Oh, how we've missed you.