There were some fantastic pitching duels in the MLB playoffs Wednesday. The Wild Card Series matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres wasn't one of them.
The Cardinals jumped all over Padres starting pitcher Chris Paddack en route to a 7-4 win, taking a 1-0 lead in the series.
St. Louis scored four runs in the top of the first on a Paul Goldschmidt two-run homer, a Yadier Molina RBI single and Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly.
San Diego halved the deficit with a pair of sacrifice flies in the first and second innings, though the Cardinals responded in the third with a pair of RBI singles (Carpenter, Paul DeJong). A Tommy Pham RBI single in the bottom of the third and an Austin Nola sac fly in the sixth clawed the Padres closer, but San Diego's comeback kids—the Padres led baseball with 22 come-from-behind wins this year—could never fully solve the St. Louis bullpen.
Worse, the Padres left star pitchers Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet off the Wild Card Series roster because of injuries, leaving San Diego without its top two starters. Wednesday was not a good day for the Padres.
Kwang-Hyun Kim: 3.2 innings pitched, five hits, three runs, two walks, two strikeouts
Paul Goldschmidt, STL: 1-for-5, two run homer
Yadier Molina, STL: 3-for-5, two runs
Dylan Carlson, STL: 2-for-3, two runs, two walks
Chris Paddack, SD: 2.1 innings, eight hits, six runs, one strikeout
Fernando Tatis Jr., SD: 1-for-4, two runs, one walk
Manny Machado, SD: 1-for-5
Goldschmidt, Excellent Fielding and the Bullpen Lead the Way
From the moment Goldschmidt blasted a two-run dinger in the first inning, the Cardinals never trailed. That set the tone. But other Cardinals veterans like Molina and Carpenter also had excellent performances offensively, with the experienced leaders providing the offensive spark.
Goldschmidt's big hit shouldn't come as a major surprise—he's done this before in the postseason.
The Cardinals handled their business in the field, too.
It was just enough insurance, as the St. Louis bullpen gave up just one run in 6.1 innings of work.
The Padres Needed More From Paddack
With Clevinger and Lamet unavailable—and the team's third-best starter, Zach Davies, starting in Game 2—the Padres were facing the prospect of needing at least one win from either Paddack in Game 1 or the "all hands on deck" approach general manager A.J. Preller told reporters the team would take in Game 3.
After Paddack's poor start Wednesday, it looks like the Padres are down to Davies and "all hands on deck."
The disappointing thing for the Padres is that he got rocked by a Cardinals offense that ranked 28th in runs (240), 22nd in batting average (.234) and 27th in slugging percentage (.371). Coming into the series, it would have been the Cardinals pitching that was the threat, not their bats.
The other disappointing thing was that Paddack talked a much bigger game than he delivered:
There was no dominance Wednesday. There is only the Padres just one game away from elimination.
These teams will meet again in Thursday's Game 2 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Davies will be on the mound for the Padres against Adam Wainwright.