It’s been a wild week for the Dodgers, who are currently riding a four-game win streak after breaking their tie with the Cardinals for the second wild card spot on Saturday. In a stunning 17-4 win over St. Louis, Los Angeles slugger Yasiel Puig was the headliner, clubbing three home runs and collecting seven RBI to help the Dodgers clinch the series win.
After Manny Machado put up a two-run shot in the first inning, Puig drove his first home run of the day into the center field seats on a first-pitch fastball from Cardinals right-hander John Gant. He returned in the fifth with a three-run homer — his 20th of the season and the hardest-hit homer in Statcast-era team history — scoring both Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger to give the Dodgers a four-run boost.
Following another two runs from Bellinger and Max Muncy in the sixth, Puig’s third and final dinger came in the eighth inning on a one-out, 0-2 changeup from right-hander Luke Weaver. This one was hammered into left field as the Dodgers took a 13-4 lead over the Cardinals, which was then garnished with another four runs thanks to Bellinger and Andrew Toles’ efforts in the ninth.
Puig left Saturday’s unbelievable win with a .272/.333/.504 batting line, 21 home runs and .837 OPS through 403 PA. In this series alone, he’s already delivered six hits (a single and five home runs) through 10 at-bats. Saturday’s performance marked the first three-homer game of his six-year career in the majors.
Even taking their crazy win streak into account, however, the Dodgers’ place in the postseason isn’t cemented quite yet. They’re currently tied with the Rockies at the top of the NL West standings and hold a tenuous one-game lead over the Cardinals for the second wild card berth.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.