SAN DIEGO – From 21-year-old budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. to 36-year-old reliever Craig Stammen, the San Diego Padres tossed aside more than two decades of futility and brought joy to a city that's had its sports psyche beaten down for far too long.
Stammen and eight fellow relievers combined on a four-hitter in a brilliant, record-setting effort that sent the Padres over the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 Friday night in the deciding Game 3 of their NL wild-card series.
The Padres won a postseason series for the first time in 22 years and advanced to face the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series at Arlington, Texas, starting Tuesday.
Stammen, making his first start in 10 years, said the Padres weren't wrapped up in past playoff failures, including being eliminated from the playoffs by the Cardinals three times since 1996.
“We’re trying to write our own piece of history right now," said Stammen, who mentioned the Padres' return to a brown and gold color scheme. “It's icing on the cake to maybe turn the page on some of the San Diego struggles in the playoffs against the Cardinals, turn the page on maybe some struggles within the organization, the blue Padres, and now we're the brown Padres. Excited to build some memories with the new colors.”
The nine pitchers marked the most used in a nine-inning shutout in any big league game since at least 1901.
With starters Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet unavailable due to injuries suffered in their final regular-season starts, rookie manager Jayce Tingler was forced to tap the Padres’ already-stressed bullpen and it came through magnificently. San Diego became the first team in baseball history to use eight or more pitchers in three straight postseason games.
“What those guys did this series and tonight, wow," Tingler said. “They’ve been overworked, they’ve been overtaxed. Man to man, everybody came up and said, ‘I’m good, give me the ball. I’m good, give me the ball.’ Tonight, for me, was as team-oriented as so many guys contributed again. That’s who we are. That’s why we’re going to continue to keep playing.”