In a year of uncertainty, uneasiness, and worry, baseball was there to bring us a feeling of normalcy. Although the 2020 MLB season saw teams play in front of empty stadiums, cardboard cutouts, and had stadiums pump in crowd noises to give the games a more real-feel, the games were nothing short of great.
Especially the August 17-20 Home-Away series that pitted the Rangers and Padres against one another. At this point in the season, the Friars were 11-12 on the season, 4th in the West, and came into the series only winning 4 out of their last 10. They needed to get something going if they wanted to be anything close to a team that everyone thought they would be.
But this series would turn out to be exactly the spark they needed, and they did it in historical fashion.
August 17th, Globe Life Field, Slam #1: Fernando Tatis, Jr. comes up in the top half of the 8th in a game the Pads were already winning 10-3. With 1 out and the bases juiced, El Niño drive a 3-0 pitch oppo to right center, and smashes a cardboard cutout wearing a Rangers jersey. People would be up in arms about him doing this on a 3-0 pitch, but 4 days later it would be forgotten about.
August 18th, Globe Life Field, Slam #2: With 2 outs, 6 batters into the game, Wil Myers sparks the offense by crushing a ball into the left-center bullpen off Mike Minor. The Padres would go on to win this game and improve to 13-12 on the year. They wouldn’t hit or fall under .500 for the rest of the season.
““EVERYTHING’S BIG IN TEXAS” -Dan Orsillo, 2020” should be plastered on shirts everywhere. The disrespect.
August 19th, PETCO Park, Slam #3: It’s the 10th inning at this point and the Padres are Grand Slam-less. The Padres were up 2-1 in the 9th when Joey Gallo blasted a homer to deep right-center to tie it up at 2 a piece. Manny Machado comes up and launches a 3-2 pitch from Rafael Montero off the overhang in left field, which also is bearing Montero’s name and face. The disrespect. Walk-off Salami for slam #3 and consecutive win #3.
Now, this feat has been accomplished before by teams – 3 straight games with a Grand Slam (1978 Brewers, 1993 Tigers, 2006 White Sox), but hadn’t been seen in the National League since the Cleveland Spiders, who did it against the Boston Beaneaters in 1895. What great team names they had back then. For us to see a 4th game in a row? Insanity.
August 20th, PETCO Park, HISTORIC Slam #4: Eric Hosmer heads to the dish in the bottom of the 5th with 1 out, again down by 1 with the bases juiced. The scene was set for the Padres to be etched into baseball history forever, and be born again as an entirely new entity. Folks, I give you – “SLAM DIEGO”.
After coming into that Rangers series a game under .500, the Padres would go on to win 21 out of their final 33 games to finish with the best winning % in franchise history (.616) since 1998 (.605). (I know it wasn’t a full schedule, relax). They would go on to take 2/3 from the Cardinals in the Wild Card series only then to be swept by their rival Dodgers in the NLDS. Regardless, that was a big deal for a team that hadn’t even sniffed the playoffs since 2006. They may not have gotten to that point if it wasn’t for this series and these slams against the Rangers.
Here’s all 4 so you can relieve the magic of a place now known as “Slam Diego”.