January 29, 2023

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Machado's unusual interference K halts potential rally

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ST. LOUIS — Padres third baseman Manny Machado couldn’t believe it. Manager Bob Melvin said he’s never seen anything like it.

Machado was called out by home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale for interfering with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in the seventh inning of a one-run game on Monday at Busch Stadium. Machado thought it was a foul tip, but after the umpire crew discussed the play, Machado was called out for making contact with Molina while he was attempting to throw out José Azocar, who was attempting to steal second on the pitch.

“He said he fouled it off but then came all the way around and knocked it out of his glove, which did not happen,” Melvin said. “The timing is literally impossible on that.”

“I kind of squatted down after I foul tipped it,” Machado said. “I mean, it’s Yadier Molina, the best catcher in the game, so I’m gonna go ahead and give him a chance to maybe throw him out. And when I turned around, I saw the ball on the ground. I’m like, ‘Alright, that’s a foul ball.’ I did tip it, so he didn’t catch it, and then the interference call came, and that just caught everybody by surprise.”

The call short-circuited a potential rally, and the Cardinals, led by a home run from Paul Goldschmidt, broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Padres 6-3.

“Maybe, I might have struck out the next pitch, who knows?” Machado said. “You never know. … Or I could have hit a homer that changes the game, and now we’re bringing in our setup guy coming in that next inning as well. So, it changes the game a bit. Obviously, the call is what it is, and we just move on from it.”

Once again, the Padres struggled to put runs on the board and wasted a quality start by Nick Martinez, who escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth to keep San Diego in it.

Martinez went six innings, his second-longest outing of the season.

“He pitched better when he had to,” Melvin said. “He had a couple jams he had to get out of. At the beginning of a trip when we’re going to go through some pitching, we needed some innings out of him today.”

The call against Machado epitomized a frustrating afternoon for the Friars’ bats.

Playing against a St. Louis squad that deployed five pitchers in a glorified bullpen game due to multiple injuries in the starting rotation, the Padres struck out 13 times and walked twice. The Nos. 2 through 4 slots in the lineup went a combined 1-for-14 with five strikeouts.

“We’re fighting to get some hits,” Melvin said. “We’re getting more and more hits, we’re just not getting the big blow consistently here, but as long as we keep putting guys on base, it will come.”

Machado’s RBI single in the ninth brought the tying run up, but the game ended when Eric Hosmer grounded into a double play.

The Padres have scored just 18 runs in their past seven games.

“We’ve been playing good baseball,” Hosmer said. “The pitching has obviously been helping us out a lot and keeping us in these games and stuff, but just running into a little tough stretch offensively and, you know, something we can break out of.”

Azocar was a bright spot with a pair of hits and a dazzling throw to rob fellow rookie Nolan Gorman of an extra-base hit in the first inning.

Azocar’s first Major League assist came after playing the ball perfectly on one hop and making a perfect throw directly to the glove of shortstop Ha-Seong Kim, who had plenty of time to apply the tag, as the throw beat Gorman by several steps.

Azocar doubled and scored on a Jurickson Profar single in the third and singled in the seventh ahead of the Machado at-bat. It was Azocar’s second multi-hit game, and he became the first Padres rookie to have multiple hits and an outfield assist in the same game since Franmil Reyes on Sept. 16, 2018.

“He’s doing a nice job, whether it’s, you know, drawing walks, getting on base, hitting the ball the other way, made a nice play and a nice throw in the outfield,” Melvin said. “He’s played really well for a guy that, you know, probably was the last guy on the team.”

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