Just when doubt starts to creep in, Juan Soto smashes it like a center cut fastball served up on a Sunday afternoon. Soto and the rest of the Padres decided they want to be a playoff contender. Bob Melvin finally lost his temper and aired them out on Thursday night. The Padres looked like a bunch of Gen-Xers who finally figured out what quiet quitting was, mailing in in their most lackadaisical effort in their series opener against the Diamondbacks. Melvin, for reasons most of us can’t quite figure out, needed to remind his players they are in the middle of a playoff race. They only had 18 games remaining at that point in the season. It was time to put it in gear. And then they did. The Padres finally played an entire weekend like a team that was ready to do damage in the post season. And Juan Soto was a huge part of the production. Finally.
Soto went 5-12, with 2 Runs, 5 RBI and 2 BBs, for the weekend. He hit two doubles and a home run in those at bats and said he is seeing the ball really well right now. It’s right on time too. Manny Machado may be a lesser baseball god, but even immortals need help every once in a while. Juan Soto has always set the table, but with him finally driving the ball, he can do some damage from the two hole. Now if only someone can get going at the leadoff spot. I’m pretty sure this season has worn down Jurickson Profar as he just looks awkward in left field and has been too quiet at the plate this month. Slashing .196/.220/.357 for September, Profar might be running on empty down the stretch. The Padres have been riding the hot hand of Jose Azocar in center field. Maybe a move to lead off is in order to take advantage of his .400/.440/.520 line for September?
I doubt Melvin does much tinkering with the lineup as he rides the turnaround for as long as they keep winning. He has shown flexibility with the rotation as he has kept Sean Manaea on the shelf for a couple of turns in the starting rotation. The Padres announced they will do so again as Manaea will be skipped to miss the Cardinals, pitch against the Rockies, thus missing the Dodgers next week. Manaea starting in Denver means the Padres will probably need to score 15, but actually it might be the motivation they need. It is time for this team to beat the Rockies with conviction in Coors Field.
But first up are the Cardinals. A possible first round playoff match-up, the Red Birds are playing well and somehow Albert Pujols is hitting like he is 32, not 42. It’s possible Pujols could get to 700 home runs this week. The highlight reel of him hitting it at Petco will be broadcast forever. I’m kind of conflicted about the possibility of Pujols hitting his 700th in San Diego. On one hand is the infamy of giving up the dinger and being reshown on the MLB network for eternity. But on the other, San Diego has great baseball fans and I believe they would ultimately appreciate the historic feat and be proud to have witnessed history in the making. I’m pulling for Clevinger, Snell and Musgrove to shut Albert and the rest of the Cardinals down. History can wait.