August 15, 2022

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Need runs? Padres' offense is always open late

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ATLANTA — The Padres have been a late-inning team since signing Manny Machado prior to the 2019 season, scoring a combined 837 runs from the sixth through the ninth innings once the star third baseman came aboard.

The Padres have scored 22 runs in the final four innings of their most recent seven games this season, with 14 coming in the three-game series against the Braves at Truist Park. That doesn’t include the four runs that crossed the plate in the 11th inning on Sunday afternoon to seal a 7-3 victory and series win over Atlanta.

“I was just texting [manager] Bob [Melvin] earlier, after the game here, just about the grit that the team is showing right now,” said interim manager Ryan Christenson, who’s filling in while Melvin recovers from successful prostate surgery. “Just the whole series, really, like we were talking about the other day. It’s just two teams just slugging back and forth at each other. And it was just good to see these guys continue to fight and prevail.”

The clutch offense late in games allows the pitching staff to do its job more freely, knowing that the lineup will put runs on the board. 

“I’ve gotten to dodge the L’s a few times this year and spit the hook out, but that’s kind of my thought as I’m going out to pitch,” said Joe Musgrove, who allowed three runs (two earned) in six innings Sunday. “That if I keep this game within two, three runs, we got a chance to win every time.

“So, the heroics came later in the game this time, but for me selfishly, they came at the right time and kind of bailed me out of there. But that’s just how our offense is. I mean, a lot of good hitters, and if we don’t figure it out earlier, we’re gonna stay on it, and we’ll make something happen late. Whether it’s bunting guys over or the one big swing that ties things up; we got a little bit of everything here.”

This series displayed the faith that the pitchers have in the offense. The Padres’ three starters — Musgrove, Sean Manaea and Yu Darvish — combined for 18 2/3 innings without earning a decision.

“This was an amazing series. I think one of my favorites this year, because we pitched, we hit. We did a little bit of everything in this series,” Sunday’s winning pitcher Nabil Crismatt said. “We [came] back when we were down. When we were down, we showed that we can go and tie the game again.”

The addition of Robinson Canó to the Padres clubhouse has already shown benefits. The 39-year-old gave tips about the Braves, who he played earlier this season with the Mets.

“I think [Canó] has been a good addition just with his experience, and the knowledge that he can share with some of our guys has been big,” Musgrove said.

Even though he went hitless in his first start with San Diego, the second baseman said a win is much more important.

“This is not about me. It’s about the team. It’s all about winning,” Canó said. “Of course, I will share the info that I have … whenever we play a team like the Giants, Rockies, D-backs and the Dodgers.

“The chemistry here is on another level. I think that’s why they play so good, because the chemistry is always there, and that’s what you need as a team. You got a guy like Manny [Machado], Hosmer; everybody’s like joking around, everybody’s together. I like that the bullpen, the starters, they all get along, and that’s good. Nobody thinks they’re bigger than anybody else.”

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