Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres Top Cardinals to Set Up NLDS Showdown vs. Dodgers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 3, 2020

San Diego Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr., left, reacts after hitting a double, next to St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong during the fifth inning of Game 3 of a National League wild-card baseball series Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gregory Bull/Associated Press

The San Diego Padres advanced to the National League Division Series with a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park on Friday.

Jack Flaherty did a good job of escaping danger when the Padres got on base, but Eric Hosmer finally broke the deadlock in the fifth inning. Fernando Tatis Jr. doubled to left with one out and came home on a double by Hosmer.

San Diego plated two more in the seventh inning to earn some much-needed breathing room, and Jake Cronenworth added another insurance run with a solo homer to center in the eighth.

Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth to seal the victory.

            

Notable Performers

Jack Flaherty, SP, Cardinals: 6.0 IP, six hits, one earned run, two walks, eight strikeouts

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Eric Hosmer, 1B, Padres: 1-for-3, two RBI, one double

Jake Cronenworth, 2B, Padres: 3-for-4, two runs, one RBI, one home run

             

Padres Rely on Strength in Numbers

Padres manager Jayce Tingler had little choice but to make this a bullpen game. Chris Paddack started the series opener, and Zach Davies took the bump Thursday. Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger aren't available either.

Craig Stammen pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, a vast improvement over how San Diego opened Games 1 and 2 when Paddack and Davies combined to allow 10 earned runs over 4.1 innings. Stammen set the tone for his team.

There's an obvious downside to using nine relievers in a game during a postseason that doesn't have any built-in days off for the first three rounds. This won't be sustainable for too long if San Diego can't count on its starting pitchers eating up more innings.

Tingler told reporters before the game there's a "possibility" Lamet and Clevinger could return to the active roster for the NLDS. Their health will be critical toward San Diego's hopes of moving any deeper in the bracket.

           

Cardinals Waste Gem by Flaherty

Flaherty did everything he could to prolong St. Louis' stay in the playoffs. The Padres left seven men on base and were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position against the Cardinals right-hander.

Flaherty's command wasn't great, which is why his pitch count climbed to 110; his stuff was almost untouchable.

Few will question manager Mike Shildt's decision to bring Alex Reyes on for the seventh. But it was somewhat fitting that things briefly went off the rails for the Cardinals immediately after Flaherty exited. 

Errors by Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman helped gift valuable runs to the Padres.

Reyes walked in one of those runs yet mitigated the damage by getting Tommy Pham to ground into a double play and striking out Mitch Moreland.

Committing two errors and registering four hits in an elimination game is a rough way for the Cardinals' season to end.

            

What's Next?

The Padres will play the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. San Diego is looking for its first NLCS appearance since claiming the pennant in 1998.