The Cardinals are, as they usually are, in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Padres are also, as they usually are not, in the thick of the playoff hunt. San Diego started Friday 2.5 games out of a National League Wild Card spot while St. Louis was a half game in front of them.
So, beating the Red Birds in their 3-game series at Petco Park would certainly help the Friars inch towards that elusive post-season berth.
Game 1 was a good one for the home team. The Padres won 3-1 thanks to a couple of big blasts and some seriously stellar bullpen help.
Starting pitcher Eric Lauer was walking a very thin tightrope for most of the night. In the 2nd inning the first three Cardinals hitters reached base but St. Louis didn’t score. Lauer got Kolten Wong on a comebacker to cut down the lead runner at home, struck out Michael Wacha, and got La Jolla Country Day High School alum Tommy Edman on a groundout to escape with no runs scored.
The Cards finally broke through against Lauer in the 4th inning when Wacha hit a hard grounder up the middle. Rookie sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. made a tremendous diving stop and throw to 1st base but Wacha was safe by an eyelash, allowing Yadier Molina to score the first run of the game.
The 4th turned out to be Lauer’s last inning because he needed 98 pitches to get through 12 outs.
In the 6th inning the Padres offense finally started to figure out Wacha. Tatis tied it on his 10th home run of the season and Eric Hosmer followed with his 13th bomb to put the Friars on top 2-1. Tatis becomes the 2nd rookie shortstop in MLB history to have at least 10 home runs and 10 steals before the All-Star break. The other was Boston's Nomar Garciaparra.
Perhaps having three days off in an eight day stretch helped a weary bullpen because the relievers were pretty good. Cal Quantrill, who has been very good since moving to a relief role, tossed 2.0 shutout innings. Luis Perdomo followed with another one.
Craig Stammen had a little trouble in the 8th when he put two runners on so manager Andy Green asked Kirby Yates to get the 4-out save.
The closer was up to the task. He punched out Wong to end the 8th then tossed a perfect 9th inning, striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end it. The Padres hit the season’s midway point with a winning record at 41-40. They also move a half-game ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race.
The Friars can win the series on Saturday night when Chris Paddack takes the mound against Dakota Hudson.