Padres, Yu Darvish continue their losing ways
Yu Darvish made two starts against the Giants in April, allowing a run in each while going six innings the first time and getting one out into the seventh inning in the other.
The first Giants batter he faced Monday night, Tommy La Stella, hit Darvish’s fourth pitch an estimated 414 feet. A triple, two walks and Evan Longoria’s three-run homer followed before Darvish got a second out.
The five-run first inning would be a preview of what was in store for Darvish, who surrendered a pair of home runs in the fourth inning and allowed a total of eight runs in his four innings.
That would be plenty for the Giants to hand the Padres their fourth loss on a trip that is four games old, a 9-1 thrashing that left Darvish with his hands on his hips watching balls fly out of Oracle Park and had multiple Padres batters hanging their head after they made outs. ( Box score. )
"Obviously, the frustration level for myself is very high," Darvish said. "I would assume all the other players, along with staff members and coaches, are carrying frustration as well. We still have to turn the page. We still have to come in tomorrow, get our work in and play a game. I think we need to flip the page and move forward.”
The victory clinched a playoff spot for the Giants for the first time since 2016.
What was already abundantly apparent was further crystallized Monday night in the opener of a four-game series: Darvish is a different pitcher, and the Padres are a different team than the last time the Giants saw them.
Monday’s loss followed the three-game sweep the Padres suffered in Los Angeles and was their 20 th defeat in 28 games.
The Giants won five of the nine meetings between the teams in the season’s first 5½ weeks. The last of those was an 11-1 Padres victory here on May 9.
That win got the Padres within 1½ games of the Giants in the National League West at the time. The Dodgers were third, another game behind.
Not two weeks later, the Padres took over atop the division. They would hold that spot for eight days and until about three weeks ago seemed virtually certain of being a playoff participant.
Monday’s loss dropped them not just out of postseason position but tied with the St. Louis Cardinals a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds.
The Padres’ lone run Monday came when Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. hit back-to-back two-out doubles in the third inning to cut the Giants’ lead to 5-1.
The Giants, who entered Monday with a 2½-game lead over the Dodgers and 18½ games better than he Padres, added three runs in the fourth on Mike Yastrzemski’s leadoff home run, a single by Curt Casali and Brandon Belt’s two-run homer.
“You feel like ‘OK, we’re within striking distance, four runs and a lot of game left,'” manager Jayce Tingler said. “The big one came when it turned 8-1. That’s when you know it’s going to be a real battle.”
Darvish has allowed 27 home runs, tied for fourth most in the NL. Of those, 17 have come in 54 innings over his past 10 starts.
Arguably the worst start of his 27 with the Padres lasted 96 pitches.
"Just some command issues," Darvish said. "Couldn't really execute my pitches the way I wanted to. To their credit, they did some good jobs fouling some balls off and getting to the balls I made some mistakes. ... The game started out with the home run. I think I sort of got tense and tightened up a little bit. That was probably the main problem."
His shortest starts were a pair of 2 2/3-inning outings against the Diamondbacks. But the eight earned runs he allowed Monday were the second most in his career. He allowed 10 on July 26, 2017, when he was with the Texas Rangers.
Monday followed Darvish getting his first win since June 21 in his last start, as he held the Angels to a run on three hits over six innings on Thursday at Petco Park.
That was just the third game the Padres won in Darvish’s past 10 starts, and it was just his second quality start in that span. His 6.84 ERA over those 10 starts was 4.04 points higher than his ERA over his first 16 starts.
It was those starts that got him an All-Star selection.
But a hip issue landed him on the injured list in July, forcing him to skip the All-Star festivities, and a lower back issue caused him to miss a start while on the IL last month.
While he declared himself free of any back malady after his last start, he never looked comfortable on Monday and had trouble even throwing strikes in the first inning.
"He was healthy, just didn’t have the overall command,” Tingler said.
His performance did nothing to alleviate the impact of the twin blows the starting rotation suffered between Sunday afternoon and Monday evening.
First, Blake Snell departed his start Sunday in Los Angeles with hip adductor tightness. He was more sore than expected on Monday, according to manager Jayce Tingler, and his taking his turn in the rotation on Friday seems unlikely.
Then, shortly before Monday’s game, Chris Paddack reported tightness in his elbow while playing catch and was placed on the 10-day IL with “inflammation.” The Padres called the move precautionary, but he will miss at least his start that was scheduled for Thursday.
Tim Hill replaced Darvish to start the fifth inning. Shaun Anderson, recalled from Triple-A , worked the sixth. Craig Stammen pitched the seventh. The final Giants run was allowed by Dinelson Lamet in the eighth inning.
Having to cover five innings also would not help with at least one bullpen game coming up before the weekend.
While they would not be shut out for a fourth time in five games, the Padres scored in just one inning for the sixth time in their past 28 games. In that stretch, which began Aug. 11, they have averaged a league-low 3.29 runs per game and been shut out six times.
This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .