SAN DIEGO — For all of the early season shortcomings, there have been all the time two apparent options in San Diego – two areas that, in the event that they may very well be addressed, would go a good distance towards curing what ails the Padres’ offense:
• The Padres wanted extra manufacturing out of the catcher spot — not essentially the prolific manufacturing Gary Sánchez has given them in his first week together with his new staff. Simply … greater than what they had been getting.
• The Padres wanted Manny Machado wholesome and enjoying just like the MVP-caliber third baseman they know he may be, the MVP-caliber third baseman they’re paying him to be.
On Monday evening? Test and verify.
With a 5-0 victory over the Cubs, the Padres earned a break up of their four-game weekend wraparound sequence. Blake Snell was wonderful throughout six scoreless innings, nevertheless it’s not the primary time Snell has been sharp this season. This time, he received the requisite help, largely courtesy of Sánchez and Machado.
Sánchez, who was claimed off waivers solely every week in the past, launched a laser of a two-run homer within the second inning, already his third house run as a Padre. He’s off to a torrid begin in San Diego, posting a slash line of .286/.348/.714 by way of his first seven video games.
Machado, in the meantime, was as much as his standard methods. He made a superb play at third base to rob Seiya Suzuki of successful within the third inning. He additionally went 3-for-4, scorching a pair of line drives with exit velocity over 100 mph. For the primary time since he returned from the fractured metacarpal in his left hand final week, he seemed like, nicely, Manny Machado.
“I really feel good, Machado stated. “I imply, I’m wholesome, and I feel that’s truthfully the one factor you possibly can ever ask for. This sport is so laborious in so many alternative methods, so that you simply ask for well being. I’m feeling good proper now … so I’m in a position to go on the market and simply compete.”
The Padres know precisely what a wholesome and thriving Machado can do for his or her lineup. Throughout the first half final season — on an offense with out Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts — Machado saved them afloat.
“Look, he’s our man,” supervisor Bob Melvin stated. “Final 12 months, he was the explanation, just about, we received to the place we went. Particularly early within the season, these first few months, he actually carried us. … He has the flexibility to do this.”
Actually, the Padres may all the time count on extra from Machado than the .222/.275/.353 line he entered play with on Monday. He’s Manny Machado, in spite of everything.
At catcher, they had been much less sure of a turnaround. The Padres claimed Sánchez off waivers from the Mets as a flier. Certain, he’d been a two-time All-Star and an integral a part of the Yankees’ runs to the ALCS in 2017 and ‘19. However they couldn’t presumably count on the reincarnation of that Gary Sánchez, may they?
“He’s received a monitor file,” Melvin stated. “Just lately, it hasn’t been nice for him. However I feel the way in which he was embraced with our guys within the clubhouse actually made him really feel at house right here in a short time. Then once you get off to the beginning that you simply do.
“The expertise stage continues to be there. He’s not an outdated man, by any stretch. This one, hopefully, is a very nice pickup for us. Has been to this point.”
The truth is, the Padres didn’t want the 30-year-old Sánchez to be All-Star caliber. They simply wanted an improve. On the time of his declare, they ranked final within the Majors in catcher WAR, in accordance with FanGraphs.
With out an apparent inside resolution, they took a low-risk gamble on Sánchez and determined handy him the keys behind the plate.
“Everytime you get the chance to be out on the sphere and enjoying each single day, good issues are likely to occur,” Sánchez stated by way of Spanish interpreter Danny Sanchez. “It’s extra the chance.”
Behind the plate, Sánchez has been rock-solid, too. He has backstopped consecutive scoreless begins from Snell (along with seven scoreless from Yu Darvish on Saturday). On Monday, Sánchez was behind the plate as Snell struck out eight — together with three trying within the first two innings. All three Ks ended with strikes that, um, in all probability weren’t. However Sánchez, a minimum of, introduced them like they had been.
Shortly thereafter, Sánchez strode to the plate and roped a two-run homer, giving the Padres an early lead. For Snell, who has raved about working with Sánchez, it was an all-too-familiar sight.
“I’ve seen him hit 5 off of me,” stated Snell — greater than he’s allowed to every other hitter. “I favor it to be on my staff.”