Jake Cronenworth gives the Padres a big win over the Mets

SAN DIEGO – About a month ago, the Padres ended a series against the Cubs that put eight games over 0.500 and seemed to be the challenger they claimed they were all out of season.

Well, their doubters were quick to notice that they had not played much of a program. Over the next four weeks, that was about to change. The Padres would face a number of challengers – the Brewers twice, the Braves, the Phillies, the Giants and the Cardinals. And to end it all, they would face the red-hot Mets, the owners of the best record in the National League, in a series of three games at Petco Park.

So now that we’ve got to the back end, are these 2022 Padres real? Looks sure like that.

On Wednesday night, San Diego delivered a second straight comprehensive beatdown of first place in New York, this time a 13-2 victory before a packed Petco Park. Sean Manaea hit seven dominant innings, Jake Cronenworth homered and had five RBIs as part of a three-hit game, and Jurickson Profar continued to thrive in the lead, collecting two hits and three RBIs.

It was an emphatic end to what appears to be one of the toughest stretches on San Diego’s schedule this season. During the 25-game series – which also included a three-game series against the Pirates – the Padres went 15-10. They wrapped it up with league victories against the division leaders in NL Central (Brewers) and NL East (Mets).

Of course, as Profar put it, “We have a good team too.”

As usual, Padres cycled his starting pitcher on Wednesday. Manaea allowed just one hit through the first six innings, which was Jeff McNeil’s bundle single in the second. The left-hander finished by allowing two runs (one earned) over seven frames, and continued a remarkable run for San Diego’s starting rotation.

“I thought he was great,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “He set the tone early in the match, putting up zeros through six innings. He has been very, really, really consistent. “

Manaea have played at least six innings in 10 of their 11 starts this season, joining teammate Joe Musgrove as the only pitchers in the NL who have done so many times. (San Diego starter Yu Darvish has nine, a draw to third.)

No team in baseball has had more starts in at least seven rounds either. And, as Melvin was quick to say, “the difference between six and seven is a lot.”

With consecutive seven-innings starts from Darvish and Manaea, the Padres used just four pitchers the last two games combined. After an off-day Thursday, they will be ready for four games in three days this weekend against the Rockies.

It is clear that the Padres starters are doing their part. But they had not received much running support until recently. San Diego’s 13 races on Wednesday marked a season high, and each member of the starting lineup registered a hit.

“We’re starting to spread it offensively a bit,” Melvin said. “Even though the first two guys in the lineup lined up a lot of the damage.”

The biggest reason for the offensive resurgence has actually been the rise of Profar and Cronenworth at the top. Cronenworth in particular struggled for much of the early part of the season. He completed a triple shy of the cycle on Wednesday and ran into a career-high-tying five runs, coming in via a two-run double in the fourth and a three-run homer down the right-field line in the fifth.

Just like it is Cronenworth’s wRC + 98. For the uninitiated: weighted races created plus is an all-inclusive hit calculation where 100 is the league average. So Cronenworth has mainly worked his way back to the league average this year, despite all the early season games. (And he has done so with his usual outstanding defense at second base.)

“I felt comfortable the last three, four weeks,” Cronenworth said. “I was just trying to find something to get me in the right place. Seeing it pays off, it’s great. “

Cronenworth’s resilience can be extrapolated to the team’s. The Padres were swept last week in St. Louis and stared down in a row at the Brewers and Mets. They took three of four in Milwaukee. So, after losing to New York on Monday, they responded with revenge, surpassing the Mets 20-2 over the last two games.

“This was great for our confidence,” Melvin said. “Because we beat very good teams, and we did it in different ways.”

In the end, the Padres did not just survive their brutal month: they thrived. Now they will have three straight weeks of matches against teams that are currently below 0.500. If they can do business against these opponents, they can find themselves in pretty good shape the next time they face a team with a winning record.

It will be June 30 – July 3 – a series of four games at Dodger Stadium.