SAN DIEGO (AP) — Fernando Tatis Jr. has a knack for coming up big after missing time with injury and illness.
In two games back after being sidelined by COVID-19, the star shortstop has homered twice, driven in six runs and made history.
Tatis became the fastest shortstop in history to hit 50 home runs, punctuating his three-run shot with a bat flip, and made another spectacular defensive play for the San Diego Padres, who routed the Seattle Mariners 16-1 Friday night for their seventh straight win.
“Obviously he's a special player," manager Jayce Tingler said. “He did a little bit of that in spring training, had some time down from injury and right when he'd come back he was able to square some balls up and do some special things."
After missing eight games with COVID-19, the 22-year-old superstar returned Wednesday and had a homer among his four hits in a 3-0 win against Colorado.
“The good thing is, he looks fresh, he looks crisp, he hasn't lost any of his rhythm and timing," Tingler said. “I think on all aspects, offensively, defensively, the way he's moving around the field. There's very few guys you're around over time that can take a little bit of time down and truly not miss a beat. That's how it looks for him right now, which is a plus quality."
Early in the season, Tatis homered in his first game back from a stint on the 10-day injured list due to a partially dislocated left shoulder,
Jake Cronenworth homered, doubled and drove in five runs, and Chris Paddack (2-3) threw six strong innings for the Padres, who have won 10 of 11 overall. Paddack and two relievers combined on a four-hitter against the Mariners, who have been no-hit twice this season, most recently by Detroit's Spencer Turnbull on Tuesday night.
Tatis, playing in his 171st career game, watched his opposite-field homer off Chris Flexen sail over the home run deck in right field and, holding his bat by the barrel, twirled it aside before beginning his trot. His team-leading 11th this year, it gave the Padres a 7-1 lead with one out in the second inning.
Tatis tied Ryan Braun for the fifth-fastest player overall to reach 50 homers.
The Padres star also homered Wednesday in a 3-0 win over Colorado in his first game back after missing eight games after testing positive for COVID-19.
Tatis finished with four RBIs. He also made a spectacular play in the fifth when he avoided a collision with Jorge Mateo in shallow center to catch Jarred Kelenic’s popup and then doubled Eric Campbell off first to end the inning. Tatis laughed as he ran off the field.
Seattle lost its fourth straight game and had a setback off the field. The Mariners placed four relievers on the COVID-19 injured list before the game after reporting a positive test within the team.
The Mariners did not identify who tested positive. Placed on the IL were right-handers Robert Dugger, Will Vest and Drew Steckenrider and left-hander Anthony Misiewicz.
Paddack had his longest outing of the year, holding the Mariners to one run and three hits while striking out six and walking two. He allowed Mitch Haniger's double and Kyle Seager's RBI single with one out in the first and then didn't allow another runner to reach scoring position the rest of his outing.
Cronenworth hit a two-run double in the fifth and a three-run homer in the seventh, his fifth.
Trent Grisham hit his fourth leadoff homer and fifth overall for the Padres, who scored four runs in each of the first two innings off Flexen (4-2). Eric Hosmer added a two-run single and Tommy Pham an RBI basehit in the first.
Pham had an RBI triple with two outs in the second to chase Flexen. The right-hander allowed eight runs and 10 hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Mariners: As planned, RHP Keynan Middleton (strained right biceps) was activated from the 10-day IL. ... In corresponding moves for the four players placed on the COVID-19 IL, LHP Aaron Fletcher and RHPs Wyatt Mills and Yohan Ramírez were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and the contract of INF Eric Campbell was selected from Tacoma.
Padres: 3B Manny Machado got the night off because he's been dealing with nicks and bruises, Tingler said.
LHP Justus Sheffield (3-3, 4.62) of the Mariners is scheduled to start Saturday night against rookie LHP Ryan Weathers (2-1, 1.37).
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