Manny Machado put himself out there.
He called over the media for a pregame press conference to clear the air about a recent argument in the dugout he had with Fernando Tatís. He also said the Padres needed to beat the Giants on Tuesday night — Machado said the Padres needed to win every game they had left to play — in order to save their season.
Machado put himself out there.
In his first at-bat, Machado went deep for a 423-foot home run. In his second at-bat, he hit another home run that went 412 feet. He didn’t make an out until his fourth at-bat, a 398-foot fly he hit to the fence that had a .930 expected batting average.
Machado put himself out there.
He came up for a fifth time in the bottom of the ninth with one out and the Padres needing more, and he hit a 112.2 mph liner to first baseman Brandon Belt. After almost being overwhelmed by it, Belt collected the ball and started a nifty double play — with Brandon Crawford making up for an earlier error by turning an amazing relay at the second-base bag — to seal a 6-5 victory for the Giants. With the Dodgers on the verge of retaking a share of first place in the NL West, it was a game that San Francisco needed almost as much as the Padres did. They wanted it no less, that’s for sure.
Machado put himself out there, and so did Tatís, who finished 2-for-5 with an RBI. He also nearly made what would have been a spectacular catch in the top of the ninth on a go-ahead blooper by San Francisco’s LaMonte Wade. It missed his glove by a few inches.
Effort didn’t seem like it was a problem with the Padres, who made several other great plays on defense to prevent the Giants from scoring. It just wasn’t enough to get it done. The Padres had a little more bad luck at the worst possible time.
Machado’s media conference came not long after Padres manager Jayce Tingler said in his own media chat that he’s not worried about job security, and that he hadn’t “lost the clubhouse” amid the team’s late-season disintegration. What else can he say? And it could even be true.
The Cardinals already had beaten the Brewers earlier for their 10th straight victory, which means the Padres are five games back of the NL Wild Card with just 12 to play. The Padres have lost four straight, but since Aug. 10 when they were a season-high 17-games over .500, they’ve gone 10-25.
If frustration was boiling over Sunday in the dugout when Machado argued with Tatís, it certainly wasn’t going to evaporate now. The Padres are 76-74 and have about a 1.4 percent chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs. The odds given elsewhere aren’t any better. For a reversal, the Cardinals would have to suffer a collapse like the one that’s killing San Diego — and this doesn’t even account for the two other teams the Padres would need to leapfrog, the Reds and Phillies. It’s too much, and there’s not enough time left.
Perhaps the Padres should have had that dugout argument two weeks ago, when they had more season remaining to fix the problem.
It looked like quite a scene, though, with Machado gathering media members at Petco Park, along with Tatís, who didn’t look terribly comfortable standing there. Machado had called out Tatís a few days earlier in a loss against the Cardinals for nearly getting ejected from the game by arguing a called third strike with the umpire. Tatís didn’t want to hear from Machado, and teammates had to step between the pair until they cooled off.
Both said the heated moment was behind them, and they were united to help the Padres accomplish their goals. Here’s the entire chat, captured by the San Diego Union-Tribune:
“The incident that happened Saturday, we're here to address it,” Machado said. He referred to Tatís as his “little brother,” adding that “we’ll always be together” — in case anyone thought the argument might indicate that someone wished for an offseason trade.
“It's unfortunate that it happened inside the dugout in a crucial situation for the team,” Machado continued. “We apologize to the fans for (letting) them see it. But we handled it internally as the leaders of this team. With the pressure of trying to win, and the emotions… We've got Fernando over here, about to win an MVP, we’ve got a team that’s trying to compete and get to a World Series… We haven’t been playing great baseball, so emotions get involved and get the better of us (sometimes).
“With that being said, we’re here to take these distractions away from the team. We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Tatís let Machado do most of the talking, but nodded in agreement when he mentioned people letting emotions overtake them. Tatís is no doubt frustrated by his own relatively diminished production in the second half, which coincides and probably correlates with a recurring shoulder injury. He’s not 100 percent healthy, and even has played some games in the outfield to protect his shoulder.
“It’s part of what this game brings out, when good players are trying to win and stuff is not going your way,” Tatís said. “I’m glad it happened, because I feel it (makes) us stronger. When you go inside and you talk about it, you come together.”
No matter how Tatís and Machado get along personally, how they produce on the field carries a lot more weight. Even amid a deeply disappointing end to the season, the Padres wouldn’t be anywhere near the playoffs if San Diego’s best two players hadn’t produced great as individuals. The team’s breakdown has much more to do with other players not being able to produce as hoped.
Machado and Tatís put themselves out there plenty.