|7:10 PM PT8:10 PM MT9:10 PM CT10:10 PM ET22:10 ET2:10 GMT10:10 7:10 PM MST9:10 PM EST9:40 PM VEN6:10 UAE (+1)8:10 PM CT, April 2, 2021
Petco Park, San Diego, California Attendance: 10,350
Padres send newcomer Blake Snell to mound vs. D-backs
Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres
- The Diamondbacks and Padres split 10 games last season. Arizona's five wins came by an average of 1.6 runs with four one-run wins. San Diego's five wins were by an average of 4.0 runs per game.
- The Diamondbacks finished fifth in the NL West in 2020 with a record of 25-35. It was Arizona's first time finishing in the division cellar since 2014. The Diamondbacks have not won their division in nine consecutive seasons after winning the division title in five of their first 14 seasons.
- The Padres returned to the postseason in 2020 for the first time since 2006, which is still the last season in which San Diego won its division. The 14 consecutive seasons without a division title is one short of the longest such streak in franchise history (1969-1983, the first 15 seasons in franchise history).
- Christian Walker finished second on the 2020 Diamondbacks with seven home runs, nine behind team leader Kole Calhoun -- Calhoun is injured to start the 2021 season. Over the last two seasons, only Eduardo Escobar has hit more home runs (39) for Arizona than Walker (36).
- Fernando Tatis Jr. has a career .956 OPS through 143 MLB games, the fourth-best mark by any active player through 143 career games (minimum 400 PA). Tatis has 39 career home runs and 98 RBI. No player has reached 40 career home runs or 100 career RBI with San Diego within 150 career MLB games.
- Madison Bumgarner had a 6.48 ERA in nine starts in an injury-limited first season with Arizona in 2020, the highest single-season ERA of his career. Yu Darvish had a career year with the Cubs in 2020, including a 2.01 ERA and 6.6 strikeouts per walk, both career bests. Darvish finished fourth in MLB in ERA and fifth in K/BB in 2020 (among qualifiers).
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Identifying the Padres' closer was a recurring question posed to San Diego manager Jayce Tingler throughout spring training. He deftly dodged the inquiries.
Tingler was not lacking for candidates, but he had no definitive No. 1, although he said he'd prefer to have a primary closer. Heading into the second game of the season, Friday against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks, Tingler might be changing his mind.
The Padres used all four leading closer candidates -- Keone Kela, Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz and Mark Melancon -- Thursday in their season-opening, 8-7 win over Arizona.
Each turned in a scoreless inning as the Padres came from behind after blowing an early 6-1 lead. Pagan got the win, Melancon the save.
After the game, Tingler said the seventh inning might have been the key to the win ... and that the closing role could become a semi-committee thing, particularly early in the season with the Padres playing 24 games in 25 days.
"We'll see how it goes," the manager said. "With the number of games early, it's finding the guys who bounce back well and make sure they stay fresh, healthy and crisp."
So, if the Padres keep winning, Friday's closer could be Pagan, or Pomeranz. Then again ...
"I'm sure you'll see today's combination some," Tingler said. "You might see other combinations. The big decision might be what do with do in the seventh, the eighth."
Or the fifth, if Thursday's game is any hint of things to come. There is a question about the length the Padres have in their rotation. And they are facing that question with three key relievers -- Matt Strahm, Austin Adams and Pierce Johnson -- on the injured list to start the season.
"We're probably going to be pretty flexible," said Tingler, who will send left-hander Blake Snell to the mound Friday to oppose Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly.
Kelly, who went 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 2020, has won his last four starts while producing a 0.34 ERA against the Padres since returning from a stint in South Korea. However, Kelly spent the spring rehabbing from thoracic outlet surgery performed last Aug. 19.
"The way his velocity rebounded this spring was impressive," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of Kelly, whose fastball hit 94 mph in his first exhibition start after failing to hit 93 in any of his final five outings in 2020.
With Zac Gallen opening the season on the injured list, the Diamondbacks' hopes for a fast start ride largely on a post-operative return to form for Kelly.
Meanwhile, Snell, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018 for the Tampa Bay Rays, will be making his Padres debut.
San Diego traded for Snell and Opening Day starter Yu Darvish within days of each other in the offseason. Snell was 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA with the Rays last season and made three starts for the Rays at Petco Park during the AL playoffs.
Snell's goal is to reduce the workload facing the Padres' bullpen.
"The No. 1 thing is to be the best," Snell said during spring training. "I don't want to be the guy who could have been. ... I want to max out my potential. I want to go as far as I can. I want to see what is inside of me. The only way to realize that is to go deeper into games. Once I get deeper into games, I'll become a lot better at being a complete starting pitcher."
--Field Level Media
Updated April 2, 2021