SAN DIEGO: For Andrew Cashner and the Padres, Tuesday’s (Wednesday in Manila) 6-3, come-from-behind victory over the Colorado Rockies was a tale of two halves.
For Matt Kemp, this could end up being a first half to remember.
As San Diego (11-16) clinched its second consecutive series, winning for the fourth time in five games, the right fielder ignited a dormant offense. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Kemp saw a first-pitch change-up from Eddie Butler floating in at 89 mph. The ball left his bat at 106 mph, landing in the home bullpen at Petco Park for an especially loud home run. It was the Padres’ first hit of the night.
Two pitches later, Brett Wallace pummeled an 0-1 fastball, sending a laser over the left-field wall. That gave Wallace his first home run of the season and the Padres’ back-to-back jacks for the second time this year. It also meant the game had dramatically shifted on a pair of swings.
The Padres, having cut the Rockies’ lead to a single run, jumped Butler again in the sixth. With one out, Butler hit Jon Jay with a pitch, giving San Diego its first baserunner not supplied via home run. Like Kemp, Myers went first-pitch hunting, too, redirecting a fastball for a game-tying double. Two batters later, Wallace provided the go-ahead score on a double that narrowly missed clearing the wall in the left-field corner.
Wallace had opened the season as a bench infielder. Recently thrust into a starting role at third base due to injuries, he entered Tuesday batting .154 with one extra base-hit.
Kemp, on the other hand, had looked like a former version of himself, the kind that could prove attractive to more than just the Padres. A season ago, Kemp was a flashy acquisition who failed to meet expectations in the first half, not hitting his eighth home run until his 88th game.
Tuesday, Kemp’s fourth-inning blast was his eighth of this season, in his 26th game. Over the last six, he has totaled three doubles and as many home runs. Considered one of the game’s most burdensome contracts as recently as the past winter, the 31-year-old Kemp, if he keeps this going, could wind up being valuable to quite a few other teams this summer.
Heading into this contest, Cashner’s stock had moved in the opposite direction. The right-hander is in his final season before free agency and thus a logical trade piece for San Diego. Yet, to open 2016, he’d raised more questions than answers. In his previous outing, he had gone only 2 2/3 innings at San Francisco, marking his shortest start in nearly three years.
Opposite Colorado (12-14), Cashner endured the kind of first inning that neither he nor the Padres wanted. The first batter of the game, Charlie Blackmon, drilled a home run over the right-field fence. Two singles followed, then a walk. Cashner received a visit from catcher Derek Norris and another from pitching coach Darren Balsley. A sacrifice fly gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead before Cashner escaped with his 35th pitch.
In the top of the second, Cashner issued a leadoff walk. The runner came around to score on Trevor Story’s second single of the game.
In the third, he allowed a leadoff single by Nolan Arenado. He was bailed out when Norris threw out Arenado trying to steal second.
Over his final four innings, Cashner appeared to suddenly harness his ability. He yielded one walk and no hits. He struck out three consecutive batters.
With his 108th pitch, he completed six innings of three-run ball, capturing a quality start. Butler, meantime, went from cruising through the first three innings to being relieved after 5 2/3 frames.
Immediately after his exit, Alexei Ramirez stroked a single for a 5-3 lead. Jay led off the bottom of the seventh with a double before Myers scored him with a single.
The Padres, hitless through their first 11 at-bats, finished with nine knocks. Their bullpen locked down the Rockies for the second straight evening.