SAN DIEGO – After 14 long years, the San Diego Padres are back in the playoffs, this time with a cast of stars who never flinch when they get down.
The Padres beat the Seattle Mariners 7-4 Sunday with a three-run rally in the 11th inning that included a go-ahead double by newcomer Mitch Moreland.
In one of many bizarre twists to 2020, the clincher came in the finale of a series that was moved from Seattle because of poor air quality due to wildfires, so the Mariners were considered the home team and batted last.
After closer Trevor Rosenthal (1-0), another newcomer, struck out Phillip Ervin for the final out, the Padres had a brief but joyous celebration in the infield. Then they gathered near the dugouts to get playoff caps and T-shirts before moving to the clubhouse.
Budding superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who is warming back up after struggling for several games, said the moment was huge for the team and the city.
“I just feel so happy for the city of San Diego," said Tatis, 21, the son of the former big leaguer. “I know it’s been so many years since they went to the playoffs and bringing playoff baseball back to San Diego, I just get emotional.”
As for the players, “Oh man, just happiness,” said Tatis, who along with teammate Manny Machado is a contender for NL MVP. "It's been a quick but hard year. Everybody has struggled, everybody has put their good work and now we have each other's back and we find a way to win games.”
Although Petco Park was devoid of spectators, a handful of fans watched from a rooftop bar just beyond left-center field and several others watched from balconies on an office building high above right field.