Both dugouts saw it the same way.
Almost everyone in attendance Tuesday night thought Chicago Cubs pinch hitter Frank Schwindel had hit a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth inning.
Instead it ended up as the last out in the San Diego Padres’ 5-4 victory. The teams will play the rubber game of a three-game series Thursday afternoon.
Talking about Schwindel’s drive, Padres acting manager Ryan Christenson said, “In the back of my mind, I thought he got it. It had a great sound off the bat, good trajectory.”
Cubs manager David Ross said, “I thought Frank had gotten it.”
He hadn’t. As so many late drives do in San Diego, Schwindel’s drive died inches short of the fence in left. This one landed in Jurickson Profar’s glove just as said glove hit the fence, capping a Padres victory and an active and emotional day for both teams.
The Cubs hadn’t named a starting pitcher for the Wednesday game as of late Tuesday. Ross hinted it would be a bullpen start because the team is scrambling to fill out its rotation. The Cubs have made four roster moves since arriving in San Diego, and they could have right fielder Seiya Suzuki out of the starting lineup for a second straight game due to a gimpy ankle.
The Padres, meanwhile, will be playing while manager Bob Melvin is undergoing prostate surgery.
“Our thoughts are with Bob,” Christenson said. “We’re concerned with what he is going through and hope for a speedy recovery. This is my fifth year by his side. I will run games the way Bob runs games.”
At least Christenson has an identifiable starting pitcher for Wednesday, Nick Martinez (2-2, 3.38 ERA). In fact, when it comes to starting pitching, San Diego has a problem opposite of the one Chicago is facing — a rotation surplus.
Martinez is already at the back of what has become a six-man rotation. And former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (groin) was sharp in what could be his final rehab start with Triple-A El Paso on Tuesday.
Martinez, who was signed by the Padres out of Japan in March to serve as either a starter or a reliever, is clearly pitching to remain in the rotation. He has made five starts thus far, giving up 10 runs on 25 hits and 13 walks with 22 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings for a 1.425 WHIP.
Only two Padres starters have a lower ERA than Martinez, but four have lower WHIPs. Plus, Martinez could become a valuable commodity in a bullpen that has blown hot and cold.
After the Wednesday game with the Cubs, the Padres embark on a nine-game road trip. Melvin said Monday that Christenson would manage the team through most if not all of the trek.
“He’s a future manager waiting to happen,” Melvin said of Christenson on Tuesday before leaving the club. “He’s been with me quite awhile now. We look at the game similarly. He’s going to manage it basically the way I do. We’ve been together long enough to where he shouldn’t miss a beat. I’m looking forward to be able to give him some games in a row as well.
“Our staff is great. They’ll probably do a better job than I did.”
As for Ross, he hopes the Cubs can prevail Wednesday to earn their first series win since the opening set of the season.
“Monday night’s win was a solid step forward,” he said. “Winning the series would be another step.”
–Field Level Media