First Pitch: With San Diego Padres ‘clicking,’ should the other 29 MLB teams be worried?

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 2: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 2, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 2: Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres hits a three-run home run in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 2, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) /

DENVER — After a day where the San Diego Padres looked like the Padres team that was projected at the start of the season, Fernando Tatis Jr. offered a warning to the other 29 MLB teams.

“We just feel good as a team,” Tatis said. “Everybody’s clicking at the same time. That’s what we were lacking all year. I feel like we’re on a really good roll right now.”

That “clicking” has resulted in arguably the best stretch of baseball for the San Diego Padres all season. Needing to show general manager A.J. Preller that they could indeed be a team that could not only get into the postseason, but be a scary draw once October arrives, San Diego swept the Texas Rangers at Petco Park before heading to the Mile High City and taking two of three from the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, a place manager Bob Melvin referred to as a “house of horrors.” That run puts the Padres at 54-55 and just 4.0 games back in the chase for a Wild Card spot. It also puts them one game from reaching .500, a mark they haven’t been at since May 11.

“I feel like the last week or 10 days, we have played probably our best baseball and we’re going to keep that going,” Tatis Jr. said matter of factly as the Padres packed up in Denver and prepared for the flight home and what will be an emotion-filled four-game series beginning on Friday in San Diego against the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers.

San Diego Padres flexing muscles ahead of potential run to postseason

In Wednesday’s 11-1 win over Colorado, San Diego’s offense showed what it could do when “clicking,” bashing five home runs. Those home runs weren’t wall-scrapers either. San Diego became the first MLB team to hit five homers of at least 425 feet in the same game, including a moonshot from Tatis that reached the Coors Field concourse and gave him his 100th career homer. With the blast, Tatis became the fourth-fastest player in AL/NL history to hit his 100th career home run, reaching the mark in his 362nd career game.

In the final two games of the series, the offense paved the way for the Padres to win back-to-back bullpen games against the Rockies. In winning the three-game set, San Diego didn’t roll out either of their leading pitchers in Blake Snell or Joe Musgrove, who was a late scratch for the finale with shoulder soreness. Still, the Padres found a way to win, something that was lacking from the team during consecutive months of posting a losing record in May and June.

Something, however, feels different about this Padres team now. The swagger that maybe wasn’t there before the All-Star break is back, thanks in part to trade deadline reinforcements that are coming for the roster in the rotation (Rich Hill), bullpen (Scott Barlow) and lineup (Ji-Man Choi and Garrett Cooper). Some of the weaknesses exposed in the Padres construction were shored up in the hours before the trade deadline expired.

“I think Peter (Seidler, chairman of the team) and A.J., they have faith in this team,” Manny Machado said after Tuesday’s win which capped a solid MLB trade deadline day for the Padres. “That faith hasn’t left. They still believe in everyone in this clubhouse. Since spring training, we’ve hit some bumps on the road, but we all know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone in here knows that we have a goal to reach.

“With the deadline, we added some key pieces and some good moves to just make us that much better.”

A scary thought for a team that was not played up to its potential until recent games. With Machado, Tatis, Juan Soto and Xander Bogaerts making up the heart of the order, and Ha-Seong Kim posting 5.4 bWAR this season, the second-highest mark in all of MLB behind Ronald Acuña Jr., this team certainly has the talent to win. It’s starting to have the confidence to do that as well.

“We’re doing it differently,” manager Bob Melvin said when asked if this was his team’s best baseball of the season. “We’re playing defense. We’re swinging the bats. We’re getting pitching. We’re starting to get our timing a little better.”

This weekend’s set against the Dodgers could well show if the Padres are really back. After going 1-5 against L.A. in their first six encounters this season, will the “clicking” continue at Petco Park this weekend? The Padres have plenty of confidence after their recent play that the answer will be yes.

A talented team that has improved lately and believes in itself perhaps more than ever? A scary thought indeed.

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