San Diego Padres win first postseason series in 22 years to reach NLDS
SAN DIEGO — From 21-year-old budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. to 36-year-old reliever Craig Stammen, the San Diego Padres tossed aside more than two decades of futility and brought joy to a city that’s had its sports psyche beaten down for far too long.
Stammen and eight fellow relievers combined on a four-hitter in a brilliant, record-setting effort that sent the Padres over the St. Louis Cardinals4-0 Friday night in the deciding Game 3 of their National League Wild Card Series.
The Padres won a postseason series for the first time in 22 years and advanced to face the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series at Arlington, Texas, starting Tuesday.
Stammen, making his first start in 10 years, said the Padres weren’t wrapped up in past postseason failures, including being eliminated from the playoffs by the Cardinals three times since 1996.
“We’re trying to write our own piece of history right now,” said Stammen, who mentioned the Padres’ return to a brown-and-gold color scheme. “It’s icing on the cake to maybe turn the page on some of the San Diego struggles in the playoffs against the Cardinals, turn the page on maybe some struggles within the organization, the blue Padres, and now we’re the brown Padres. Excited to build some memories with the new colors.”
San Diego is the first team in major league history, regular season or playoffs, to complete a nine-inning shutout by using at least nine pitchers, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
With starters Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet unavailable due to injuries suffered in their final regular-season starts, rookie manager Jayce Tingler was forced to tap the Padres’ already stressed bullpen, and it came through magnificently. San Diego became the first team in baseball history to use eight or more pitchers in three consecutive postseason games.
“What those guys did this series and tonight, wow,” Tingler said. “They’ve been overworked; they’ve been overtaxed. Man to man, everybody came up and said, ‘I’m good, give me the ball. I’m good, give me the ball.’ Tonight, for me, was as team-oriented as so many guys contributed again. That’s who we are. That’s why we’re going to continue to keep playing.”
San Diego’s Trevor Rosenthal, who started his career with the Cardinals, struck out the side in the ninth, and the team began celebrating in empty Petco Park. Players gestured toward fans who watched from balconies overlooking the ballpark. Fans crowded downtown and honked car horns and chanted.
This was the first postseason series victory for the Padres since the 1998 NL Championship Series.
Tatis, who homered twice and drove in five runs in Thursday night’s wild, 11-9 victory, doubled into the left-field corner off Game 3 losing pitcher Jack Flaherty with one out in the fifth and scored on Eric Hosmer‘s two-out double to right-center.
The Padres added on against reliever Alex Reyes in the seventh — on a bases-loaded walk to Hosmer, Manny Machado‘s fielder’s choice and an error on third baseman Tommy Edman.
Jake Cronenworth went deep in the eighth, becoming the first rookie in Padres history to homer in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Info data.
The Padres rewarded their long-suffering fans by winning one of the most meaningful games of any kind in San Diego in a long time. The city’s only major professional championship remains the San Diego Chargers’ 1963 AFL title. The Chargers headed to Los Angeles after the 2016 season, leaving the Padres as the only pro team in San Diego, which lost NBA franchises to Houston and Los Angeles.
Stammen, who hadn’t started since 2010 with the Washington Nationals, pitched a perfect first inning and made way for Tim Hill with one on and two out in the second. Hill retired Matt Carpenter, got the first two outs of the third and then handed off to Pierce Johnson. Johnson loaded the bases on a single and a walk but struck out rookie cleanup hitter Dylan Carlson.
Padres rookie Adrian Morejon tossed a perfect fourth and struck out two to open the fifth, before Kolten Wong singled and San Diegan Edman reached on Tatis’ throwing error from shortstop.
Austin Adams came on and struck out Paul Goldschmidt, who hit a three-run homer in St. Louis’ 7-4 win in Game 1. Adams wound up with the win.
The bullpen had been one of the Padres’ strengths coming into the season, but it lost several members to injuries, including closer Kirby Yates, who led the majors with 41 saves last year. General manager A.J. Preller replenished the pen just before the trade deadline.
Stammen had a seesaw regular season, going 4-2 with a 5.63 ERA in 24 appearances.
Flaherty was brilliant, as well, allowing one run and six hits in six innings while striking out eight and walking two.