MLB

Won Down, One to Go … Padres Looking to Sweep Mets in NL Wild Card Series

Friars have a chance to advance to the NLDS

Josh Bell hit less than .200 after coming to the Padres in a trade. Trent Grisham hit less than .200 for the entire season. Make that, the regular season. The post-season is a completely different animal.

"Batting averages are back to .000 again and it's just like a new life for them," says Padres manager Bob Melvin.

Sure enough, Bell ripped a 2-run home run and Grisham smoked a solo shot in the first two innings to pace the Friars to a 7-1 win. Both homers came off Max Scherzer, who became the first pitcher since 1939 to allow four home runs and seven earned runs in a post-season game. It's worth noting that other guy was Cincinnati's Gene "Junior" Thompson, who got touched up by the Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series. Charlie Keller hit two of those homers. The others came off the bats of Bill Dickey and Joe DiMaggio.

So, with history already in hand, now we look ahead to something even more important: a possible sweep on Saturday night. The Mets are throwing their ace Jacob deGrom. When he's on he's probably the best pitcher in the game. But, he hasn't been on very often. Injuries limited the fireballer to just 64.1 innings and a surprising 3.08 ERA, awfully high for deGrom.

So, amazingly, the Padres have the edge on the mound because they're going to turn Snellzilla loose on New York.

Blake Snell finished the year allowing just two runs in his final 25.0 innings so he's locked in. Plus, he has a history of being phenomenal in the playoffs. Snell has made nine career post-season appearances (seven starts). He has a sparkling 2.83 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 35.0 innings.

What is it that makes a guy who Cy Young-level stuff get even better in the playoff crucible?

"I don't know, honestly. I like big moments," says Snell. "I like big games. I like pitching. When there's a good crowd, good atmosphere, you just show up for it. I don't think there's a reason outside of I just like it and I prefer it. I believe that I could see how good I really am in those moments and I think that excites me."

His last playoff appearance now lives in infamy. It was Game 6 of the 2020 World Series. Snell was twirling a gem, shutting out the Dodgers on two hits in the 6th inning, when manager Kevin Cash inexplicably took him out after just 73 pitches. The Rays bullpen lost the game and the series. Obviously that one hurt. But, today is a new day.

"Honestly, I don't think about it much anymore. It was probably one of the better games I've thrown in my life," says Snell. "I'm excited that I get to pitch tomorrow and just kind of put that behind me. I feel like I've learned a lot since then, and I've grown a lot and I've become a better pitcher. I'm excited to see what memories we can make this post-season."

If he's even better than he was that day, with a manager who will let him go deeper into games, the Padres should be getting ready to start the National League Division Series in Los Angeles on Tuesday night with Joe Musgrove on the mound.

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