Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of game two for the MLB World Tour Mexico City Series against the San Francisco Giants at Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium on April 30, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
MEXICO CITY – Five pitches into the second game of the MLB Mexico City Series, and it was deja vu all over again.
At least, it sure felt that way when the game’s first batter, Giants first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr., launched Yu Darvish’s 3-1 offering down the right field line, and the ball just kept going until it cleared the wall for a solo homer.
And then the next inning, J.D. Davis hit a high slicing pop fly that kept going long enough to land nearly vertically in the second row of the right field seats, eluding the glove of Padres right fielder Fernando Tatis Jr. to make it 2-0 Giants.
That’s baseball at high altitude.
After Saturday’s slugfest, which featured 11 homers, 12 pitchers, and 27 runs scored between the two teams in a three hour, 48 minute 16-11 San Diego win, Sunday’s game was more representative of Major League Baseball in 2023.
Giants starter Alex Cobb continued his dominant start to the 2023 season, throwing five innings and allowing three runs on seven hits, walking none and hitting one batter.
His San Diego counterpart, though, was just as good, as Darvish went six innings, striking out nine and allowing four runs on nine hits, three of them coming on long balls, and the Padres came from behind to top the Giants 6-4 in the final game of the MLB Mexico City Series at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu.
Darvish said that the thinner air affected how he approached the game, noting that certain pitches didn’t move as much as he would have liked due to the elevation, so he threw more hard sliders and hard cutters.
He did just that – in a 96 pitch outing, Darvish threw 19 cutters, 19 four-seam fastballs, and 27 sliders, against just 14 splitters, eight curveballs, and seven sweepers, pitches that use spin to create friction with the air, and thus create movement.
Cobb threw four efficient shutout innings before Giants manager Gabe Kapler went to the bullpen, and was rewarded when Scott Alexander retired the side in order in the sixth and John Brebbia followed by striking out the side in the seventh. They were the only two innings the Giants retired the Padres 1-2-3 in the series.
But the Giants couldn’t hold on to the lead in the eighth inning, with Jake Cronenworth ripping an RBI single that scored Juan Soto. Two batters later, Matt Carpenter’s high fly ball eluded a diving Mike Yastrzemski and fell to the turf, allowing Xander Bogaerts and Cronenworth to score for a 6-4 San Diego lead.
Yastrzemski injured his left hamstring on the play and may be headed to the Injured List.
“I was sitting on a fastball,” Carpenter said of the fly ball that fell to the plastic grass. “We were just trying to get the ball in play, because in this ballpark, crazy things can happen, and I was able to do that.”
The Padres will leave Mexico City with their record a game above .500, their bats livened, and ready to tear through the remaining 133 games of the season.
“We as a club kind of marked this on the schedule as a series we were really looking forward to,” Carpenter said. “I look at this as potentially, a series that jumpstarts this club and takes us all the way to the end of the season.”