Padres argue in dugout, then blow critical game to Cardinals

Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. exchange words in the dugout
Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. exchange words in the dugout during the fifth inning of Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
(Getty Images)

Tyler O’Neill’s eighth-inning homer gives Cardinals victory in game featuring dugout argument between Machado, Tatis


Emilio Pagán turned to watch the ball sail up and over and then past left fielder Jake Marisnick.

As it cleared the left-field wall and bounced into the visitors’ bullpen, Pagán thrust his hands up and grabbed his head on either side.

It may have been the moment the Padres’ hopes wheezed their final breath.

A game they led the from early on had been flipped, and with it a season in which they had for so long been front-runners edged no more than a step or two from the edge of despair.

Tyler O’Neill’s two-run homer capped a three-run eighth inning and was the difference in a 3-2 victory that dropped the Padres to 2½ games behind the Cardinals in the race for the National League’s second wild-card spot. (Box score.)

“Needless to say how tough it is to lose a game like this,” Yu Darvish said. “But … we have to flip the page. We have a game tomorrow.”

At least one more that will matter.

“We’ll take it day by day,” infielder Jake Cronenworth said. “We’ll play tomorrow like it’s our last game and the next game like it’s our last.”

The Padres are running out of games. The 15 they do have are all against playoff contenders. They are down two starting pitchers and could be for the duration. Wins are precious.

“We need to get this one tonight,” manager Jayce Tingler said before the game. “There’s no doubt about it, it’s a big game.”

In a sign of the tension that is present, the game featured a brief scuffle in the dugout in which Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. had words before the team took the field for the bottom of the fifth inning.

The first out of the inning was made by Tatis on a called third strike at the top of the zone. Tatis stood at the plate for several seconds before walking slowly to the dugout. Manager Jayce Tingler was subsequently ejected by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi for protesting the call, ostensibly sacrificing himself for Tatis.

Then, as players were grabbing their gloves and hats to leave the dugout, Machado approached Tatis and, in a video posted on social media, could be heard yelling repeatedly, “It’s not (expletive) about you.” They were separated by coach Ryan Flaherty, who ultimately pulled Tatis away.

Neither Tatis nor Machado was available for comment after the game.

“It’s not viewed negatively,” Tingler said of the incident. “I’m sure people on the outside think whatever they think. We’re a family. … We care. There is passion, there’s frustration. Those are all emotions that are natural. And those things happen.

“I would say Manny has done a good job with all his leadership throughout the year. We’re not going to get into the deal, but I’d say Manny being able to share his experience and past experience of coming up young in the league is a good thing.”

Said Cronenworth: “When you come down to these points in the season, everybody is super passionate about what they do, and they want to win. That’s where we’re at.”

Darvish put the Padres in position to do so, turning in his second scoreless start of the season.

And the Padres had a modicum of success against Adam Wainwright.

Wainwright went six innings for the 13th consecutive start and turned in his 11th quality start in that span, but he did not get his 17th win of the season.

Three scoreless innings at the start were interrupted by a lot of traffic.

Machado, Adam Frazier and Tommy Pham began the fourth with consecutive singles. After Machado scored on Pham’s line drive to center, Wainwright got Wil Myers on a pop-up and struck out Trent Grisham before Victor Caratini drove in Frazier to make it 2-0.

The Cardinals did not have a base runner in the first three innings, but their first two batters reached against Darvish in the fourth — Tommy Edman with a single and Paul Goldschmidt via a walk.

With help from umpire Cuzzi, Darvish struck out O’Neill on a pitch that was at least a couple ball-widths outside. Nolan Arenado then struck out looking at a 69 mph curveball at top of the zone, and Yadier Molina hit a fly ball to Pham in left field.

Darvish again allowed the first two Cardinals to reach base in the sixth inning before escaping with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. This time, it was pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter leading off the inning with a double and Edman following with a single that Tatis knocked down to keep Carpenter at second.

Darvish then got Goldschmidt looking and O’Neill looking, on virtually the same pitch away that Cuzzi had called him out on in the fourth inning, and Arenado grounded out to end the inning.

After reaching 96 pitches with a perfect seventh inning, his first time throwing seven shutout innings since May 17 against Colorado, Darvish was replaced by Pagán.

Harrison Bader led off the eighth with a double and moved the final 180 feet on successive fly balls.

Pagán walked Goldschmidt and was a strike from escaping the inning before O’Neill smacked a cutter 393 feet on a 2-2 count.


11:05 p.m. Sept. 18, 2021: This article was updated with postgame quotes.