January 29, 2023

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Padres sweep with swagger as Gore returns to rotation

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SAN FRANCISCO — MacKenzie Gore comes to the Padres with a pedigree, of course. You don’t become the third pick overall in the MLB Draft without expectations. But the 23-year-old out of Whiteville, N.C., entered the season as an intriguing prospect on a staff with such established stars as Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Sean Manaea and Mike Clevinger.

However, with Snell spending much of the season on the injured list and Clevinger going on the IL on Sunday after three starts in his return from Tommy John surgery, the emergence of Gore is key for San Diego.

Sunday couldn’t have gone better for Gore. He got plenty of run support in a 10-1 victory at Oracle Park while allowing just one run and three hits in six innings. Gore has now made six starts and one relief appearance for the Padres and is 3-1 with a 2.06 ERA.

“Everything’s starting to come together,” Gore said. “I feel good, just keep building.”

Gore showed no effects of his change in routine. He came out of the bullpen in place of Clevinger on May 17 in Philadelphia. That appearance came after his only loss, on May 9 at home against the Cubs.

When asked about bouncing back and forth, Gore said: “I had a job to do today. It’s no different. Just get ready for the next outing.”

It helps when you have Manny Machado on your side. The third baseman went 4-for-4 before taking a seat early, with three doubles and a triple. The four extra-base hits tied a Padres record.

“MacKenzie Gore threw the ball really well,” Machado said. “The team swung the bats really well. It was a good baseball day for us.

“It makes it better,” Machado added of Gore’s performance so far. “He has tremendous stuff, and he’s definitely boosting our staff big time.”

Clevinger was put on the IL before the game with a right triceps issue. Manager Bob Melvin indicated the strain isn’t serious.

“It’s a little spot in his triceps, it’s not bad, but we’ve come so far with him and he was so good last time out, we just don’t want any hiccups,” Melvin said. “… He wants to pitch, but we just don’t want any setbacks with him. It’s too early in the season to try to push him at this point.”

Clevinger’s time on the side still leaves the Padres with a six-deep starting rotation. Here’s how they line up against the NL Central-leading Brewers in the next series: Nick Martinez, Snell, Darvish.

The Padres return home for that series after a 7-2 swing through Atlanta, Philadelphia and San Francisco. On Sunday, they pounded Giants starter Alex Wood, knocking him out during a five-run fourth inning. The Padres had eight doubles. Wil Myers had three hits and three RBIs as every starter had a hit and all but Jurickson Profar scored a run. Profar had two hits in the game and seven over the weekend.

“Games like this definitely help the confidence. It helps guys get going,” Myers said. “Today after seeing some success like that, you can see some carryover in the games to follow. Hopefully, that confidence sticks around and we get to swinging a little bit better.”

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