The Padres did not blow up their roster at the trade deadline. In fact, instead of a fire sale they added a player, getting left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski (pronounced zep-chin-ski) from the Indians for reserve outfielder Abraham Almonte. What would possess General Manager A.J. Preller to keep his club in one piece?
“We have a lot of players who are attractive to other clubs,” Preller told a group of media members in the dugout of Marlins Park in Miami on Friday night. “Ultimately we didn’t get the value we wanted to get to. We like our team.”
Yeah, but that team has a losing record and is a long way out of the playoff hunt. Assuming they can even get to .500, they still have a lot of ground to make up. Preller says it’s not out of the question.
“We’ve got a big challenge in front of us. I feel like we have the pitching and players here to start making up some ground.”
With the way the Padres have been playing lately, Preller might be on to something. The Friars won again in a unique way, this time beating the Marlins 8-3 in 11 innings. San Diego has now won 11 of their last 15 games.
It could have been a lot easier than it was. Closer Craig Kimbrel, the subject of intense trade speculation, blew his second save of the season when he left a fastball up and Miami infielder Derek Dietrich ripped it in to the upper deck to tie the game 3-3. Interesting stat on Dietrich: he has six home runs but only eight runs batted in this year. All but one of those RBI has come via the home run.
It also gave starting pitcher Ian Kennedy a no-decision. Kennedy was the subject of trade rumors but was not going to be on the mound for a different reason. He wife went in to labor with the couple's fourth child so Ian booked a flight back to San Diego to be there for it. Bad weather delayed the flight and when it was clear Kennedy would not make it home in time he called pitching coach Darren Balsley to see if he could come back to the ballpark and pitch.
Ian watched the birth using FaceTime (Evelyn Nicole Kennedy was born at 2:03 p.m. San Diego time) then took the mound two hours later and made one of his best starts of the season, throwing 7.0 innings and giving up just two runs. Kennedy will try to fly home again Saturday morning and re-join the team next week in Milwaukee.
But, he stuck around to see one heck of a finish. In the 11th inning, the Padres came up with a way to win a game. It was not as dramatic as Thursday’s rain-delayed comeback over the Mets, but it was just as unique. After a Will Venable single Marlins reliever A.J. Ramos, who had only walked 14 hitters in 46 innings this season, walked Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Yonder Alonso one after another to force home the game-winning run.
After a pitching change Derek Norris drew another walk to inflate the Padres lead to 5-3. Then Jedd Gyorko looped a 2-run single to left and Venable singled to score another run and erase any thoughts of a Marlins comeback.
Since the San Francisco Giants also lost on Friday the Padres, at 50-53, are a mere 6.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. Their next 18 games are against teams that have records worse than they do. Maybe Preller was right in holding his ground. This thing just might work out after all.