SAN DIEGO – Fernando Tatis Jr. saw the ball rolling to the wall in left-center field and raced around the bases, diving headfirst into third as his helmet went flying off.
He stood up and thumped his chest with his right fist after clearing the bases, highlighting a five-run rally that carried the San Diego Padres to a 6-2 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.
It's the kind of exciting play the Padres have come to expect from their young shortstop, and it helped the Padres take three of four games in their opening series.
Trent Grisham hit his first home run for the Padres, who outscored the Diamondbacks 21-9 in the four games.
“This is real big for us, the fact we got three out of four against Arizona,” the 21-year-old Tatis said. “It shows out there the work that we’re putting in, the grind. It’s just a great start for us. The boys are in the same mindset to keep it on the same level and not resting until we’re done with business.”
The Padres feel they’re built for success in this pandemic-shortened 60-game season. San Diego hasn’t been to the playoffs since winning consecutive NL West titles in 2005-06. It hasn’t had a winning season since 2010.
Keeping Tatis healthy will be a key. The son of a former major leaguer, he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting last year despite being limited to 84 games due to injuries. He didn’t play after mid-August due to a stress reaction in his lower back. He has vowed not to change his hard-charging style.
The Padres scored five runs in the fourth inning before Luke Weaver (0-1) recorded an out.
The highlight was Tatis hitting a low liner that skipped past shortstop Nick Ahmed and rolled to the wall, bringing in three runs to give San Diego a 6-2 lead. Tatis dove into third headfirst.
“I was trying to get two but when I saw the ball getting to the wall, I said, ‘OK, time to go,’ all the way to third base," Tatis said.
He said the key to the rally, and to the season so far, has been “the at-bats the boys are taking, seeing pitches, giving opportunities to the guys behind us, keep moving the lineup.”
The Padres have been much more patient at the plate under rookie manager Jayce Tingler.
After Tatis’ triple, Weaver struck out Grisham and made way for Taylor Clarke.
Greg Garcia bunted for an RBI single and rookie Edward Olivares singled home a run earlier in the inning.
“We created traffic,” Tingler said. “An underrated play was the Greg Garcia push bunt, just a heads-up play, brought in a run, another guy on base, and then Tatis hit that bullet in the gap. It’s good because everybody’s contributing."
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said the game "unraveled for us a little in the fourth inning. It’s one big inning that was the difference in the game. I thought Luke up to that point threw real well, but they were grinding him down and I think he started to elevate his pitches to the last few hitters.”
The Diamondbacks had taken a 2-1 lead off left-hander Joey Lucchesi with two outs in the third. Starling Marté doubled to medium right, just out of the reach of a diving Grisham, to bring in Nick Ahmed, who was aboard on a leadoff single. Eduardo Escobar singled in Marté.
Grisham pulled a 3-1 pitch from Weaver an estimated 411 feet down the right-field line with one out in the first inning. It was his first homer with the Padres, who acquired him in an offseason trade with Milwaukee.
Cal Quantrill (1-0) allowed one hit in 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win.
Weaver was charged with six runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“It ended up being an abomination,” Weaver said. “The first three innings, I was grinding a little, had a guy on base every inning. Just kind of fought against those first-pitch strikes. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to land them.”
Arizona loaded the bases in the first inning before Lucchesi got out of the jam by getting Christian Walker to hit into a double play.
“This wasn’t typical Diamondbacks baseball, whether it be on the mound or some of our at-bats," Lovullo said. "Trust me, we’re having constant reminders with these guys about certain things. They’ll figure this out.”
Diamondbacks: RHP Merrill Kelly is scheduled to start the opener of a two-game series at Texas on Tuesday night. He is 2-3 with a 5.74 ERA in five starts against AL opponents.
Padres: RHP Zach Davies, who came over with Grisham in the deal with Milwaukee, is scheduled to make his Padres debut in the opener of a three-game series at San Francisco. RHP Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to go for the Giants.