Almonte, Diamondbacks beat Padres 4-2 in Barajas’ debut
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A new manager didn’t change the results for the staggering San Diego Padres.
Rod Barajas lost his debut as San Diego’s interim manager, falling 4-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night as former Padres player Abraham Almonte had three hits and scored three runs.
Barajas was promoted from bench coach earlier in the day to replace Andy Green, who was fired because of the Padres’ second-half slide. The Padres were 45-45 at the All-Star break but have skidded to 69-86.
“It was a fun atmosphere in the clubhouse and in the dugout for sure,” Barajas said. “I felt like the energy level was up. We competed. I didn’t see anybody shut down whatsoever, so to see them go out there and battle for nine innings, and us to have the tying run at the plate three times in the ninth inning, it was fun to watch.”
Barajas is a former big league catcher who spent his first five seasons with the Diamondbacks.
The managerial change didn’t stop the Padres’ skid as they lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
Arizona remained tied with Philadelphia, five games behind Milwaukee for the second NL wild card and also needing to overtake the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets. The Diamondbacks have won five of their last seven games after losing six straight.
The Padres closed to 4-2 in the eighth on Eric Hosmer’s two-out RBI single. They had runners on first and second when Archie Bradley came on and hit Hunter Renfroe with his first pitch before striking out Francisco Mejia to get out of the jam.
Bradley allowed one hit in the scoreless ninth to finish the four-out save, his 16th.
Almonte broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth when he scored on a grounder to third baseman Manny Machado, who chose to throw to first for the second out rather than trying to get Almonte at home or throw to second to try for an inning-ending double play.
“That’s a tough one,” Barajas said. “He’s playing a little far back and the runner has a pretty decent sized lead. That might have to be a perfect throw down by home plate. It’s a tie ballgame at that point. I expect us to score more runs. I was really happy just to get an out there and not let that inning snowball into a three- or four-spot.”
Almonte tripled on rookie Cal Quantrill’s first pitch of the game and scored on Domingo Leyba’s sacrifice fly. He also came up big in the two-run eighth, doubling with two outs and scoring on Leyba’s double. Eduardo Escobar followed with an RBI single.
Renfroe hit a leadoff homer in the fifth, his 33rd.
Taylor Clarke (5-5) pitched three innings for the win, holding San Diego to one run and two hits.
Diamondbacks opener Luke Weaver pitched two perfect innings, with one strikeout. It was his first time pitching since May 26, when he injured his arm against San Francisco.
“It felt like a grind,” Weaver said. “It obviously could have been much harder, maybe with some traffic and such. I think controlling the emotional side of it, trying to get all of those feelings that one might feel like out in a major league game, out on the mound, and just trying to harness those and just trying not to let the game get bigger than it should. I think I did that pretty well tonight. Just threw some pitches in some spots, and got some quick outs, and let the team do the rest of the work.”
Quantrill allowed one run and two hits in five innings, with six strikeouts and no walks. Matt Strahm (5-10) took the loss.
Quantrill said it was “tough” pitching after the day’s changes. “Andy was a good man to me. I’ll always remember him as giving me my first opportunity, my first manager. Kind of weird locker room vibes, but in the end we’re baseball players and we go out and play baseball and they make the decisions at the top and we just do our job.”
Quantrill pitched for Barajas in Triple-A.
“Rod’s a great man. He’s a really, really good person, first and foremost,” Quantrill said. “I think he’s great with the guys. I think he’s really good at managing a baseball game. Obviously I would have loved to give him his first big league win here, but we’ll go get it tomorrow.”
The Padres handed out posters with a team picture and the 2020 schedule. The team picture included Green sitting between the two men who fired him, executive chairman Ron Fowler and general manager A.J. Preller.
Diamondbacks: RHP Robbie Ray (12-8, 4.20) is scheduled to start the series finale. He took the loss at Petco Park on April 3 in his lone start against the Padres this season.
Padres: RHP Garrett Richards (0-1, 7.36) is scheduled to make his Petco Park debut. On Monday, he made his first start since July 10, 2018, against Seattle while with the Angels. He then underwent Tommy John surgery.