Exasperation might be the best word to describe the prevailing mood around the San Diego Padres these days. After their remarkable run to the National League Championship Series last year, with hopes of securing their first-ever World Series title, the Padres have found themselves stuck in a rut for the majority of this season.
As of Tuesday night’s 9-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the Padres’ record stands at 37-42. They currently sit 10 ½ games behind the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West standings and 7 ½ games away from a wild-card playoff berth.
The frustration is palpable for a team that was assembled to win it all. Owner Peter Seidler has spared no expense, with the Padres boasting the third-largest payroll in Major League Baseball—a remarkable feat considering they operate in the 27th-largest media market in the nation.
Manager Bob Melvin, known for his composed demeanor, couldn’t hide his disappointment with his team’s performance on Tuesday. Despite taking an early 3-0 lead in the second inning, the Padres managed to score only one more run over the remaining seven innings against the struggling Pirates, who had lost 12 of their previous 13 games.
“It just seems like (the Pirates) had a little bit more spirit the rest of the game than we did,” Melvin expressed, his frustration evident.
Fernando Tatis Jr., the star right fielder of the Padres, dismissed the notion of his team appearing flat that night or throughout the season. However, Melvin stood firm in his belief.
“When you score three runs in the second inning, you should feel good about yourself putting together good at-bats and then just not have it the rest of the game. We got outplayed for sure,” Melvin emphasized.
The inconsistency in run production throughout the season remains a perplexing issue for the Padres. Despite a lineup featuring top-tier talent like third baseman Manny Machado, left fielder Juan Soto, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts—all in their prime or entering it—the Padres rank 20th among the 30 major-league teams, averaging just 4.29 runs scored per game.
Consequently, the Padres are squandering a solid season from their pitching staff, which boasts the fifth-best earned run average in MLB at 3.76.
The Padres had hoped that their back-to-back games with double-digit runs scored against the San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals last week would ignite a winning streak. However, San Diego has yet to win more than three consecutive games this season and now finds themselves on a three-game losing streak.
“It’s been that way all year to where it feels like we’re doing some good things, then all of a sudden, we have bad spurts right after that. You get tired of saying you can sustain something, but we haven’t done it this year,” Melvin lamented.
The Padres are left contemplating if they can turn things around before it’s too late. Xander Bogaerts, who signed an 11-year, $280-million contract as a free agent in December, stressed the urgency, saying, “We have to start turning it around. There’s not a lot of tomorrows left. The season is coming to an end, not soon, but it is. If we keep tacking on losses, it’s going to come quick.”
Despite the challenges, Melvin remains hopeful but admits to wondering if 2023 is already a lost cause. “This has been a hard season on everybody. There’s a lot of games left. We have to find it at some point. It’s just not happening to this point. We’ll go out there expecting to win and hopefully find a period where we can sustain something,” Melvin concluded.