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Chronicle: Padres fall to Phillies, but deserve credit for a grueling run

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The Padres must feel like they’ve gone through 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, jaws bruised, ribs tender, lungs swollen, after a historic streak of games unseen in San Diego since 1990.

Thirty-one games. Thirty-one days. They’ve played a crippling 18 over the past 17 days. And despite falling to the Phillies 8-5 on Sunday at Petco Park, they managed to survive.

Remarkably, really.

It was all a bit stunning. The Padres finished the streak with a 17-14 record. When the meat grinder started on May 27, they trailed the Dodgers by two games in Western Newfoundland. In the end, they sat… two games back.

“It’s a tough time that we’ve just come through,” manager Bob Melvin said. “…I think everyone was a bit run down towards the end. But you know, I had a chance to win the game. But we could use the public holiday (Monday).

Forget the moral victories thing. Melvin isn’t into that kind of rah-rah thinking. It’s a direct and realistic shooter that preaches everyday life. Stay away from binoculars and rear view mirrors. Earn today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

What the Padres managed to do, however, deserves advice.

They play without NL MVP candidate Manny Machado, chained to the dugout with a sore ankle. There’s star Fernando Tatis Jr.’s dead center return Toss in center fielder Trent Grisham’s sore right shoulder, designated hitter Luke Voit’s hamstrings and calf and Wil Myers’ knees and legs. ripples from the wounds have become whitecaps.

Melvin missed games while on the bench due to COVID protocols.

Apologies abound. The Padres don’t attach their mental wagons to any of them. Instead, they do enough, enough times, to avoid a potential ranking drop.

“We took the day-to-day approach very well,” said first baseman Eric Hosmer, who had two hits, an RBI and scored a run Sunday. “We tried to win every day and not worry about what’s coming next or what happened in the past. That was important for us.

“There are a few games we could have won, but we just didn’t. But at the end of the day, we went through a very difficult period and we are well placed.

Normally, there’s no reason to give Dom Pérignon a chill after losing a home streak to cap a 4-6 average streak in the last 10 games. Surviving the grueling race with a winning record, despite the widespread wreckage of the lineup, is a bit of a headache.

All along, the Padres fulfilled Task 1: keep pace with the Dodgers until the Cavalry arrived.

“It’s the identity of our team,” said receiver Austin Nola. “Bob preached, you know, defense, base running, throwing, good hitters. I think that’s the key. Over time, if we do a good job, we’re going to win ball games no matter who’s in the lineup.

On Sunday, that meant putting rookies CJ Abrams and Jose Azocar in the starting lineup. That meant planting in-season call Nomar Mazara on the right. This meant that Ha-Seong Kim continued playing at No. 3. That meant hitting two receivers. That meant a bench as thin as printer paper.

It’s been a baseball yard, in the middle of a marathon.

“After (the long streak of games) you look back, man, how did we do?” says Nola. “We did a good job stringing together a few wins.”

No team has played more times than the Padres this season, 75 games in all. Only four others reached the mark. Still, San Diego plugged in a clip that remains one of baseball’s best.

Why?

The offense, non-existent for so long, left the witness protection program in June. Entering Sunday, the Padres led the NL in hits (288) and ranked second in runs (137) and extra-base hits (90).

At home, the Padres relievers had posted an NL-best .40 ERA while allowing a .114 batting average, the second-lowest on the NL side.

Math curveballs came to the Padres against the Phillies. The team was 33-4 when leading after six innings this season. Relief pitcher Nabil Crismatt, who had allowed just five earned runs and no homers, was rocked by Kyle Schwarber’s three-point shot in the seventh.

It was the first time the Padres dropped a four-game series this season.

These Padres seem built with stronger wood than others over the last decade – and maybe two. It’s evident that Melvin has instilled a unique resilience into the Padres’ 2022 DNA.

A loss that tipped a streak doesn’t change that.

“We’re happy with what we’ve been through so far,” Hosmer said. “I just know the second half will be a much more favorable schedule. Not so many games in so many days. We will be much more on the west coast.

“We definitely see the momentum in that. This kind of play plays a bit more in our favor, heading into the second half.

The Phillies, without All-Star Bryce Harper, battled to win the series.

The Padres also did something impressive: they outlasted Tyson.