Rockies, not rain, spoil Padres’ big debut

Tribune Content Agency

SAN DIEGO — There was little chance it could live up to the mountainous expectation. Not that it had to.

“You try to create a good first impression,” San Diego Padres manager Bob Melvin said Thursday afternoon. “I mean, it’s not like our fans are gonna go away after day one. But it really is one and 161. There’s nothing like opening day.”

That’s right. After all the buildup to the first game of a Major League Baseball season, the game is played and then there are 161 of them remaining.

Plenty of time for the Padres to create more cheers and fewer boos than they heard during the first game of the most anticipated season in franchise history.

The team with the third-highest payroll in the majors went bust on a cold and, for a time, wet opening night Thursday at sold out Petco Park.

The Rockies drove Blake Snell from the game early and rained homers on two Padres relievers in a 7-2 victory.

The Padres tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning and took a 2-1 lead in the fourth before the Rockies went up for good in the fifth on C.J. Cron’s three-run homer.

Cron, whose single in the first inning gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead, also hit a solo homer in the seventh inning to tie a 25-year-old Rockies record with five RBIs on opening day.

Xander Bogaerts doubled his first two times to the plate in Padres pinstripes and singled his third time up. Lead-off batter Trent Grisham doubled and scored in the first inning.

Other than that, the top of the Padres’ order can’t be considered to have truly begun their season. Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth were 1-for-10. In all, the Padres were outhit 17-7 and were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

The Padres two runs were driven in by outs — Machado’s sacrifice fly in the first inning and a fielder’s choice grounder by Matt Carpenter in the fourth.

Rockies starter German Marquez went six innings, allowing five hits.

Snell was his usual early season self, throwing plenty of brilliant pitches but too many of them.

He departed the game with one out in the fifth inning, having thrown 93 pitches, struck out nine batters and with the Padres holding a 2-1 lead. He ended up being charged with the loss when the two runners he left scored on Cron’s line drive just over the left field wall off a changeup from Nabil Crismatt.

The Rockies added a run in the sixth off Crismatt and two in the seventh on back-to-back home runs (by Cron and Elehuris Montero) off Domingo Tapia.

Thursday’s first pitch was preemptively pushed back 51/2 hours from its originally scheduled time of 1:10 p.m. The forecasted rain did fall at times in the afternoon, and it wasn’t finished after dark.

The start of the second inning was delayed as the grounds crew was called out to drop a drying agent on the front of the pitcher’s mound and at various spots around the infield.

By the time they were finished, about 10 minutes later, the rain had stopped.

Snell walked the first batter he faced in the second before ending the inning with a fly ball out and two strikeouts. A fielding error by Ha-Seong Kim and double by Charlie Blackmon began the third before Snell struck out the next three batters.

The problem was he was at 70 pitches through three innings. Snell got his eighth and ninth strikeouts in the fourth inning and was up to 82 pitches.

Singles by Yonathan Daza and Blackmon around a groundout by Kris Bryant ended Snell’s night.

Crismatt worked through the sixth before Tapia made his Padres debut and surrendered home runs on the first and fourth pitches he threw. The hard-throwing right-hander ended up completing two innings before Steven Wilson worked the ninth.

The Padres’ effort was not impressive, nor was the result all that important given the six months left in the season.

“Just worry about today,” Machado said before the game in response to a question about managing expectations. “Worry about today, and then I’ll turn the page as soon as the game’s over to tomorrow.”