Manny Machado is locked in.
The Padres third baseman produced the 31st multi-home run game of his career Thursday night to account for both runs in San Diego’s 2-1 win over the visiting Miami Marlins during the opener of a four-game series.
Machado has hit safely in nine of his past 10 games, going 17-for-40 (.425) with two doubles, four home runs, 10 RBIs and 13 runs. He has also drawn five walks while striking out six times in that span, raising his season average to .374 (second in the major leagues) and his OPS to 1.104 (tops in the majors).
“He’s just a great all-around player,” Padres substitute manager Ryan Christenson said Thursday night after Machado took Jesus Luzardo deep twice to give San Diego a win. Christenson, San Diego’s bench coach, filled in the past two days with manager Bob Melvin sidelined due to a non-COVID illness.
While Thursday ended up being a good night for San Diego, Wednesday was a rough day for both the Padres and Marlins, who flew from the east to the west after blowing leads in losses.
The Padres, however, have won seven of their past nine games. The Marlins have lost five in a row going into the Friday night game, which matches Miami right-hander Sandy Alcantara (2-1, 2.90 ERA) against San Diego right-hander Yu Darvish (2-1, 4.44).
The Marlins dropped the series opener to the Padres despite getting a strong six innings from Luzardo. The lefty allowed just three hits, but two of them were Machado’s long balls.
“Luzardo deserved better tonight,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said postgame. “Two swings shouldn’t beat you. We’ve lost four straight one-run games. You have to find ways to win close games.”
The Padres did on a night when their bullpen was depleted after playing 19 innings while splitting a doubleheader at Cleveland on Wednesday.
“We really needed Nick (Martinez) to give us seven innings tonight and he did,” said Christenson, who added that Melvin should be well enough to return as the manager Friday, when much of the bullpen will be set to return to action, too.
The Friday game will see each team’s Opening Day starter make his sixth start of the year.
Alcantara is coming off his worst outing of the season. The 6-foot-5, 26-year-old give up five runs on six hits, four walks and a hit batter on Sunday in a 7-3 loss to the visiting Seattle Mariners. He also yielded his second and third homers of the season.
Alcantara has faced the Padres only once before. Last Aug. 11, he held San Diego scoreless over seven innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 7-0 victory.
The Padres have won Darvish’s past three starts since he gave up nine runs on eight hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants on April 12. Over his three most recent starts, Darvish is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.911 WHIP. He last pitched on April 29, when he held the Pittsburgh Pirates to three runs in six innings during a 73 win.
Darvish is 2-2 lifetime against the Marlins with a 6.25 ERA in six starts, including a shutout in 2014. He faced Miami once last year, and he gave up four runs in five innings during a 9-3 loss on July 25.
–Field Level Media