It was only two seasons ago that the San Diego Padres reached the National League playoffs.
But that was the pandemic season of 2020. No fans were there to enjoy the moment, a fact that could make a victory Sunday over the visiting Chicago White Sox especially sweet for Padres players and fans.With a win Sunday, the Padres will clinch just their second National League wild-card berth since 2006. San Diego's magic number to secure a playoff spot is one, and the Padres also could get there with a Milwaukee Brewers loss to the Miami Marlins.
The Padres want to celebrate with a win on Sunday -- and celebrate with their fans.
Jake Cronenworth made that clear Saturday night after his two-run homer in the sixth snapped a 1-1 tie and led the Padres to a 5-2 victory over the White Sox.
"The fans have been there all season for us," Cronenworth said. "They've been there in big numbers, and they've been loudly behind us. Join us Sunday as we hopefully advance to the next level."
The Padres (87-71) have a three-game edge on the Brewers with four games to play. San Diego holds the tie-breaker over Milwaukee.
The Padres also have a two-game edge on the Philadelphia Phillies in the battle for the No. 2 wild-card berth going into the finale of a three-game series with the White Sox (78-80), who are still seeking to finish at or above .500.
"We've made that the goal," said acting White Sox manager Miguel Cairo. "That's the goal of everyone in the clubhouse. And no player wants to watch another team celebrate making the playoffs from their dugout. That's tough."
Right-hander Lance Lynn (7-7, 4.16 ERA) will start for the White Sox against Padres left-hander Blake Snell (8-9, 3.47).
Snell, 29, has a 4-0 record in six career starts against the White Sox with an 0.86 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.
He is 2-0 in his three most recent starts, giving up one run on seven hits and five walks with 26 strikeouts over 19 innings for a 0.47 ERA. For the season, Snell has a .220 opponents' batting average and is averaging 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
The 35-year-old Lynn has a 3-3 record in eight career starts against the Padres with a 2.94 ERA. He has lost his past two starts, giving up 10 runs (seven earned) in 11 innings -- after winning his four previous starts while allowing only three earned runs in 26 1/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Padres manager Bob Melvin was still trying to sort out a Saturday that saw the Brewers leading while the Padres were trailing at one point.
"Things changed quickly over the course of the day," Melvin said. "That's the great thing about this time of the year. A lot of things happened today to give us more confidence. To have everyone pitching well at this time of the year is also a confidence boost."
--Field Level Media