SAN DIEGO (AP) — Playing in front of mostly full stands at Petco Park has helped restore the San Diego Padres’ badly bruised swagger.
The fans are thrilled to be back in full force. The Padres, who won a wild card playoff series in their empty ballpark against St. Louis in October, are happy they’re returned.
Wil Myers hit a two-run triple and scored on Joey Votto’s errant throw in the third inning as the San Diego Padres beat Cincinnati 3-2 Sunday for their first four-game sweep ever against the Reds and their first four-game sweep overall since Aug. 18-21, 2011, against the Marlins.
Petco Park opened to full capacity on Thursday night, two days after the state’s reopening plan went into effect. A sellout crowd of 40,362 turned out to watch a 6-4 thriller in which the Padres hit two two-run homers in the ninth. The Padres drew big crowds for the other three games.
“The Reds are a very good team, they’ve been extremely hot coming in, but the most important thing I think is it was an opportunity to get in front of the fans and vice versa,” manager Jayce Tingler said.
The Padres were allowed to have limited capacity earlier in the season after no fans were allowed in during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
The Padres regained their stride after losing 13 of their previous 17 games. They were coming off a 1-5 trip that ended with a three-game sweep at lowly Colorado.
“Coming off that long road trip, the energy in the stadium was most definitely felt,” Tingler added. “It’s something we can build on going forward. It was just exciting to show up at the ballpark every day and the place is rocking. You look up in the seventh, eighth, ninth inning, just kind of a quick glance at the stands. Nobody’s going anywhere, everybody’s anchored in and everybody was into it.”
It gets bigger from here. The rival Los Angeles Dodgers come in for a three-game series starting Monday night, and the Padres expect to have star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. back. Tatis left Saturday’s game after reinjuring his left shoulder in a 7-5 win. Tingler said Tatis would have hit if needed in the ninth inning Sunday and will be back Monday night unless he has a setback.
The Padres and Dodgers have played two entertaining series so far this season, and Petco Park should be full of raucous crowds for this one.
Second baseman Jake Cronenworth agreed with Tingler about the fans’ impact.
“Honestly, I think it’s the full stadium,” Cronenworth said. “Credit to a bunch other things; guys having quality at-bats and great pitching, great defense, but I think that first night with the comeback in the ninth there, I think that just kind of sparked everything for the rest of the weekend.”
Reds manager David Bell said he noticed the boost the fans gave the Padres.
“They’re a good team, no question,” Bell said. “We’re a good team, so we expect to win games here, for sure. But they played well. They’re a very good team and it takes our best.”
Tatis watched from the dugout as his replacement, rookie Kim Ha-seong, deftly started a double play with the bases loaded to end the seventh. Kim made several other nice plays at shortstop. On Saturday, three innings after replacing Tatis, Kim hit a go-ahead, two-run homer with two outs in the eighth.
Kim ended the game with an over-the-shoulder catch of Jesse Winker’s fly ball to shallow center.
“I thought he was great,” Tingler said of the 25-year-old Kim, who signed as a free agent in the offseason after starring in South Korea. “I’ve seen him play good defense all year but today he was tested in a lot of areas and passed every test.”
Right-hander Dinelson Lamet (2-2) held the Reds to four hits in five scoreless innings, struck out a season-high seven and walked one.
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his 21st save, tops in the big leagues.
Myers is heating up after struggling for weeks. His triple off Luis Castillo (2-10) in the third was his fifth extra-base hit in three games. He had two home runs in an 8-2 win Friday night.
Myers provided Lamet all the run support he needed in the third against Luis Castillo. Manny Machado singled with one out, Jake Cronenworth laid down a sacrifice bunt and Eric Hosmer walked before Myers tripled into the right field corner. Myers scored on Joey Votto’s errant throw to third.
San Diego failed to add on in the fourth despite having runners at second and third with no outs. Kim drew a leadoff walk and hustled from first to third on Victor Caratini’s single to center. But Castillo struck out Lamet and got Trent Grisham to hit into a double play.
The Reds scored twice in the eighth against Emilio Pagan, with the runs coming on groundouts after the reliever allowed Winker’s leadoff single and a double by Tyler Stephenson.