Ha-Seong Kim, David Dahl go back to back to walk off D-backs
SAN DIEGO – A big turn of events at Petco Park on Monday night:
For all the sluggers in this loaded Padres lineup, these probably weren’t the two you’d pick for tied games and home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
And yet, there they were in places no. 8 and 9 in the lineup, starting a pair of no-doubts as the Padres turned a one-run deficit into a 5-4 victory over the defending D’s.
Dahl’s hit tied the game. Kim’s laser into the left field seats clinched it, the first home run of his major league career.
It marked the first time in franchise history that the Padres had won a game in both tied games and home runs. This marked the first time in major league history that a team’s 8th and 9th hitters had done so.
“I feel sorry for David since I got all the attention,” Kim said afterward.
Dahl didn’t seem to mind.
“I’ve been watching [the Padres] from afar the last two years here, and they just look like so much fun,” said Dahl, who forced his way onto the Opening Day roster after signing a Minor League deal with the club during the offseason. “I’m very grateful. that I am a part of now.”
Not just part of it. Dahl’s homer ignited a crowd that had rested half an inning earlier when Evan Longoria’s blast put Arizona on top. As soon as Dahl had rounded the bases and touched home plate, the Petco Park sound system let out those familiar three beats.
The crowd only had to hear it once. They knew what to do.
“Our fans sing my name — Ha. Seong. Kim. — that always gives me that extra at-bat energy,” Kim said through Korean translator Leo Bae. “David Dahl — big hit, tying home run. I just wanted to continue that moment. I had a great pitch to hit and I was able to put it away.”
Kim’s departure was the first in franchise history by a player who had started the game as the No. 1 hitter. 9 of the team (perhaps to be expected after five decades without a designated hitter). Dahl, meanwhile, became the first Padres hitter to hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning or later since Hunter Renfroe in 2018 — also against the D-backs.
“It’s not easy to come off the bench and hit a home run,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said.
Dahl was a somewhat surprising omission from the starting lineup Monday, as he had started each of the previous two games against right-handed batters. Instead, Harsh started in right field, his first career appearance in the field.
Era doubled and scored in the second inning and was solid defensively. But with San Diego grabbing a one-run lead in the seventh, José Azocar entered as a defensive replacement.
Twice later, the script had flipped. The Padres were down by a run, and Melvin didn’t want the right-handed Azocar facing right-hander Scott McGough. He called for Dahl.
“Honestly, when I saw that I wasn’t playing, I just said, ‘Hey, I’m going to a big place tonight,'” Dahl said. “Just stay ready the whole game.”
It doesn’t get much bigger than a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth.
Dahl took a thigh-high splitter from McGough that fell over the heart of the plate. He didn’t miss, launching a blast into the opposite field into the second row seats in left-center.
“At night here, that’s not easy to do,” Melvin said.
Of course, Dahl’s presence alone means a significant change in the construction of the Padres’ roster. The moves that made headlines this winter mostly revolved around superstars. They added Xander Bogaerts and a bunch of balls. They extended Manny Machado and Yu Darvish.
But San Diego also spent its winter addressing a crucial area of need: bench depth. The club added Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz to serve in a DH platoon with the other coming off the bench. Dahl, meanwhile, was an All-Star with Colorado in 2019.
A year ago, the Padres built a strong starting lineup that had plenty of success in October. They were also inconsistently weak on the bench. This became painfully obvious during some of the biggest moments in the National League Championship Series.
“It’s a little different this year,” Melvin said. “We have a few other options.”
Dahl is one of them. As he walked to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, Padres broadcaster Mark Grant said, “It’s an unexpected time for San Diego.”
And you know what? A blast and a blast works too.