Padres pregame: Uphill task ahead for Darvish, Friars in Game 5
It’s the postseason.
Yu Darvish assumed many would be riding in Sunday’s start when he took the podium Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
No one in PadresThe club knew it would come to this: Win it or start the offseason.
Still, Darvish, 36, is who he is because he doesn’t make any moment more important than anything he’s done before.
“What I think is important is to just go as usual, prepare for the game and get into the game,” Darvish said through interpreter Shingo Hori. “Sometimes there’s some luck in winning and losing a game, so that comes into play. The best thing we can do is just prepare for the big game, go into it and try to perform.”
The Padres will need whatever luck they can muster on Sunday (11:37 a.m. first inning, FS1, weather permitting, a light rain forecast but not expected to delay kickoff).
Not because Darvish isn’t up to the task. He allowed just two runs in his Start of game 1 against the Phillies, the errant throw that Kyle Schwarber hit for the longest homer in Petco Park history, and the throw that Bryce Harper was able to use for an opposite field homer because he’s Bryce Harper.
No, the odds just aren’t on the Padres’ side.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams up 3-1 in any best-of-seven series have won 77 of 91 times (85 percent).
The Phillies, of course, already had the good fortune of tying the franchise record for a postseason shutout Saturday’s four-run deficit in the first inning.
Now they will turn to Zach Wheeler to shut down the Padres. He beat Darvish heads-up on Tuesday, striking out eight in seven shutout innings in which he allowed just one walk and one walk to Will Myers.
Wheeler, who has a 1.40 ERA in three postseason starts, also blanked the Padres with nine strikeouts in seven innings in a shutout in May.
In fact, the only Padre to make it to Wheeler this year did so before becoming a Padre when Josh Bell retired him as a National.
The only other Padre to hit an extra base hit from Wheeler this year is Jake Cronenworth.
While not as impressive, Darvish has been pretty strong against the Phillies this year. He beat them in May with five strikeouts in seven shutout innings, struck out nine of six innings of no-decision ball at Petco Park in June, and allowed only home runs to Harper and Schwarber of the NLCS in Game 1 last week.
Here’s a look at how these Philly hitters have fared in those three starts:
The Padres have been hit-or-miss with runners in batting position in this series, going 0-for-2 in that situation against Wheeler in Game 1, 3-for-9 in the Game 2 win, 0-for-7 on Friday and 2-for-3 on Saturday.
Needless to say, they will need as many timely hits from Wheeler as possible. It also wouldn’t hurt for Juan Soto to flex his muscles after his fifth-inning hit gave the Padres a 6-4 lead on Saturday. It was his first postseason homer since Game 6 of the 2019 World Series against Justin Verlander.
Five of Soto’s six postseason homers tied the game or gave his team the lead.
The Padres just couldn’t hold onto the lead on Saturday and faced elimination on Sunday.
“Anything can happen,” Soto said. “They have to win one more game and we are not going to give this win easily. Go out there, play your best and see what happens.”
For the Phillies, both Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper starred in Saturday’s win and have been a force throughout the postseason. They lead the MLB with four homers and nine RBIs and will bat second and fourth, respectively, in the order for Sunday.