Padres Daily: Crazy normal; Cronenworth gets aggressive for a night; Suarez’s latest reason for hope

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Good morning from San Francisco,

The Padres continue to play – and win – games that are absolutely insane.

Last night marked the ninth time in their last 10 wins that their opponent had the tie or winning run on the plate, or led in at least one of their last two at-bats.

It was the sixth time in ten away games this season that the Padres have won a game in which their opponent scored the first goal, which is the best mark of its kind in the major leagues.

They are now 8-4 in one run games and 3-2 in extra innings games.

Zany has become the norm for the Padres.

They were just minutes behind last night, beating the Giants 8-7 in 10 innings, but they lost two leads and it wasn’t until the finals that anyone caught their breath.

After that there were some interesting comments.

Memories if you will.

“You know what?” said Bob Melvin. “Our record is our record, so we’re doing some things right.”

That was in response to a question about what he thought of a bullpen that, for much of the season, was like an endless loop of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

And when asked if the offense might be starting to heat up, right fielder Wil Myers said the following:

“I think any offensive that wins ball games does well. Of course there are some things we can improve. But any team that wins… we hit well. That’s all that counts.”

It’s not all that matters. Don’t confuse these quotes with thinking everything is fine. But all is well that ends well, at least for now. And the Padres have finished 25 of their 39 games with more runs than their opponent.

In that case, give them their share. You beat a good team in a hostile place last night. (As hostilely addressed in my game history [here]. In case you missed it, the game was briefly interrupted twice due to fans throwing objects at Jurickson Profar in left field.)

Last night marked the start of a new chapter of the season for the Padres as it was only their seventh game against a side currently setting a winning record. The Padres play 16 of their next 19 games against such teams.

The Padres completed a streak of 31 straight games on Thursday against teams currently under the .500. They went 20-11.

Continuing to pull through from so many tight plays to be a little more difficult against the Giants, Brewers, Cardinals and Mets. But who knows more?

Melvin said this is what the Padres would likely have to do without Fernando Tatis Jr at the start of the season.

“It’s great to see and we continue to develop that personality as the season progresses,” he said last night. “But it is not easy.

That last part is both what’s so impressive about the Padres and something concerning about the Padres.

He did it

Robert Suarez hadn’t served since he allowed both runners to score against the Braves on May 13 and he was the Padres’ fourth pick from the bullpen last night.

The right-hander left the bishop he inherited in the 10th minuteth inning to score, however, shut out the Giants for his first major league save.

Suarez was arguably the face of bullpen volatility. He has signed a two-year, $11 million contract after leading Japan in saves and not allowing a home run in 62 1/3 innings last season. He’s conceded three home runs and conceded at least one run or inherited runner to score seven of his 15 appearances that year.

“My confidence was always there,” he said last night. “It’s all about me performing and that gives the manager confidence in me.”

Melvin definitely wants that confidence in a guy with a high ’90s fastball.

“I think it was great for Suarez today to be able to get through that,” Melvin said last night.

The thing is, he said that after at least three of Suarez’s appearances. It’s more of a hopeful statement than a prediction at this point.

“Look, he looks like he’s made big strides for us,” Melvin said of Suarez, who made some adjustments to his delivery to help him with his command. “The stuff will always be there. I’m still trying to gain a consistent foothold here in the big leagues. He has what it takes. We got a really good look at him sometimes. Every time we think it will be a small stepping stone. I think a game like this can be huge for him. We will need him. We signed him for a reason. He has plus-plus stuff and he’ll get more opportunities there.”

Crown swings

The first pitch Jake Cronenworth saw from Jakob Junis in the second inning was a slider that broke into the bottom inside corner of the strike zone, and Cronenworth sent it over Oracle Park’s high wall in right field.

This 348-foot home run along the line was hit at 104.7 mph. Cronenworth later hit a flyball harder (106 mph) and farther (361 feet) which was caught.

“Tonight was probably one of the best nights I’ve had on my plate all year,” he said. “Just being aggressive at the start of the count. Thrown me a pitch I missed on my first at bat and luckily got a second time.

This should not be taken as a sign that Cronenworth, who has scored more goals than any other player in the major leagues, will change his behavior and suddenly jump from one pitch to another. Junis fills the zone. The Padres’ intent against him was to swing early in counts.

Cronenworth was just struggling to get into a rhythm, as he’s hitting .207 with .642 OPS this season. He vowed to stick to his approach.

“They want to swing out of there,” Cronenworth said a few days ago. “But I have to trust what I’ve always done and what I’ve always done is what I’m doing now. Maybe it’s not to that extent (usually), but it’ll be a pitch to hit and if I don’t get it I’ll get three or four more at-bats.

He confirmed last night that he will stick to that approach.

This selectivity is nothing new. Cronenworth saw the ninth most strikes of 2020-’21, and he hit .271 with .808 OPS over those two seasons.

Different, same

Joe Musgrove was looking forward to getting off the Sunday game cycle he’s had in the past three starts. Like most players, he prefers night games. It’s just what they get used to. Night games give pitching starters in particular the opportunity to sleep in and still have enough time to prepare mentally and physically.

Musgrove has to wait to pitch under the lights. He’s pitching today and it’s a day game because it’s nationally televised (FS1).

Musgrove has done well during the day this season, allowing five earned runs and hitting 22 in 20 innings in those three starts.

treat

  • Nabil Crismatt started the bottom end of the seventh inning with a 4-4 draw from last night. The right-hander pitched another 1 2/3 innings without a score, extended his scoreless streak to nine innings over five appearances and lowered his ERA to 1.31 in 20 2/3 innings this season. In such situations he will obviously be used more. Said Melvin, “You perform and you get reps like that.”
  • Manny Machado was 3-on-5 last night and 7-on-18 in the last four games. This comes after he hit a season-high 12 at-bats without a hit. His .363 average ranks second in the majors behind the Angels’ Taylor Ward (.370).
  • Profar went 3-for-5 last night, taking its average above 0.200 for the first time since April 28th. He hit .163 on May 9 but has gone 12-to-37 (.324) in nine games since then.
  • Myers was 2-for-5 with a two-run double last night. He’s 9-for-27 with two walks in his last seven games.
  • I wrote in my notes yesterday (here) that it was up in the air as to who would start Sunday’s series finale here, but that Melvin’s comments could be read as the Padres tending to at least revisit a Mike Clevinger- MacKenzie Gore to go piggyback. But I was told after the game that’s not the case. Clevinger is scheduled to start against the Brewers on Monday. It’s unclear how the Padres will play against the Giants on Sunday, although Gore seems the most likely pick to start.

All right, that’s it for me.

Wait before I go, if you missed the story I submitted last night about Melvin’s return, watch it (here). It includes quotes from several players that explain the impact Melvin had on the team.

All right, it really is. game day today.

talk to you tomorrow

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