The Padres have beaten some struggling teams and a few bad throws in their nine-game winning streak. That’s not intended to rule out those wins – they count all the same, and the National League West’s margins this season are slim.
But when the Padres arrived in Milwaukee this week, with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes starting out for the Brewers, it presented a different kind of challenge.
“We want to make it to the playoffs,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said Monday night after Woodruff snapped his team’s winning streak in the opener. “These are the types of guys you’re going to have to find a way to beat. ”
The Padres found a way on Tuesday – by going wild against Burnes in Game 2.
In a 7-1 win over the Brewers at American Family Field, the Padres did everything they could to frustrate Burnes, one of baseball’s top pitchers, in the first two months of the season. They stole six bases, including a perfectly executed double steal, on which receiver Victor Caratini returned home.
“I love aggressive baseball. I love aggressive baserunning, ”Tingler said. “We have the guys to be able to do it. We are athletic and we have no fear in us.
This fearless approach to baserunning is philosophical for Tingler. He has preached it in San Diego since October 2019, when he was interviewed for the job.
Tingler has put this philosophy into practice since taking over as manager. The Padres lead the Majors with 56 interceptions, and it’s not particularly close; the Royals are next with 35.
Tuesday night marked the first time in Padres history that six different players have recorded a stolen base in the same game. The bravest of those theft attempts came in a scoreless match in the third inning, with men in the corners and two outs.
“You are facing an ace,” Tingler said. “At some point you have to roll the dice.”
Even so, it was quite a gamble. The man on third base was their catcher – owner of just two career stolen bases. No registered Padres catcher – dating back to 1974, when full data on stolen flights is available – had ever slipped home.
There is a first for everything. When Jurickson Profar took a 0-2 fastball on Burnes’ outside corner, Ha-Seong Kim broke for the second goal. Omar Narváez’s throw went to shortstop Willy Adames, and Caratini broke.
“Normally they get through in these situations,” Caratini said afterwards. “It was an idea that came from the coaching staff, and it was a good idea – especially against a guy who throws as well as [Burnes] is. ”
Adames’ throw moved up the baseline slightly and Caratini slipped safely.
“Vic is by no means the fastest player on our team,” said Padres starter Joe Musgrove. “But it takes a perfect catch per second, a perfect home spin throw – and a good precise throw – to get it out. One of those things is missing, we have a run, and I’m taking a quick 1-0 lead. It’s enormous. ”
Profar doubled that lead three shots later with a single from the right side. That was enough support for the Padres’ pitching staff, despite a short outing from Musgrove, who lifted with two outs and bases loaded in fifth on just 84 shots.
Tingler called it “the last thing I wanted to do,” but said he was taking the big picture of the season. Musgrove had thrown 24 pitches in the inning and had just walked Burnes on four pitches to charge the bases. No need to push it. Musgrove later said he got it.
“It was probably the right decision,” Musgrove said. “I had my luck with Burnes there and I ruined it a bit.
It also helps that the situation begs for Tim Hill, the Padres’ leftist escape artist. Hill bounced Kolten Wong harmlessly in the short term, ending the threat. The Padres nailed two more runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
In addition to Caratini’s home robbery, the Padres also scored points on a fly bag, groundout and wild terrain. They worked three marches against Burnes, who had allowed just two marches in his first seven starts this season. Before the game, Tingler was asked how you decided to counter an ace like Burnes.
“You’re going to have to find a way to keep going, move the runners around and get across the flat against these guys,” he said.
The Padres – as they think they have to do in October – have found a way.