Rookie Villanueva hits 3 homers, Padres get 1st win of 2018
SAN DIEGO (AP) Curtain calls don’t happen often at Petco Park, which made the night even more special for Christian Villanueva.
The rookie hit three impressive home runs and drove in five runs, Tyson Ross was a winner in his return to San Diego, and the Padres became the last team to get its first victory of 2018 by beating the Colorado Rockies 8-4 on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old Villanueva joined Hunter Renfroe as the only Padres rookies to hit three homers in a game. Villanueva, the third player to start at third base in San Diego’s first five games, became the seventh Padres player overall to go deep three times.
After his third homer , Villanueva popped out of the dugout to answer a curtain call from the crowd of 19,283.
”Another dream come true,” Villanueva said through an interpreter. ”It’s amazing, especially on a night like tonight, getting the first win. I was just happy I was able to play my part. I think we all played really well, the pitching was great, and I think if we’re able to play that way all together as a team that it’s going to be a good year.”
Villanueva, who made his big league debut Sept. 18, capped his big night with a three-run shot that went an estimated 390 feet to left off Antonio Senzatela with two outs in the seventh.
His first two were solo shots off left-hander Kyle Freeland (0-1). The first went an estimated 400 feet off the facade of the Western Metal Supply Co. building in the left-field corner with one out in the second. The second went an estimated 399 feet into the second deck in left with two outs in the fourth.
Villanueva hit four homers in 32 at-bats last year after his debut.
Villanueva said he’s felt locked in before, ”but I’ve never hit three home runs.”
”I’d say luck. It’s one of those nights where you go out and have fun with your game and things turned out the way they did. I have a lot of dreams and I have a lot of goals, and little by little I’m starting to reach them.”
Villanueva forced his way onto the 25-man roster with a hot spring, and he’ll start again at third base on Wednesday night, manager Andy Green said.
”It’s fun watching guys succeed like that,” Green said. ”A guy that’s earning everything he’s getting right now. Fought his way to the big leagues. … You see the power; it’s real. It was a fun game for him, one I’m sure he’ll remember for the rest of his life.”
Villanueva homered against the Rockies last season.
”The kid’s got power. We saw it last year,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. ”Tonight he was locked in. He got some pitches in the middle of the plate and he’s got some pull power and he lofted the ball three times. What can you say? He squared up three balls. Gotta give him credit. He got balls in the middle and he didn’t miss them.”
”He was good today. There’s no other way around it,” Green said about Villanueva. ”That was an impressive day. I did throw him batting today; I don’t usually throw practice so I’ll be throwing batting practice again tomorrow. He just had really good swings all day.”
The Padres trailed 3-2 before Freddy Galvis hit a two-run single in the sixth and Villanueva scored his third run of the night, on a fielder’s choice.
Ross (1-0), who allowed three runs and five hits in six innings, was pitching for the Padres for the first time since opening day 2016. He didn’t pitch again that season and eventually had thoracic outlet surgery. He pitched for Texas last year before returning to the Padres on a minor league deal.
Ross nearly made it unscathed through the order the first time, but Freeland singled to center with one out in the third. Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu walked to load the bases before Nolan Arenado doubled to left. Freeland and Blackmon scored but LeMahieu was thrown out at the plate on a relay throw by shortstop Galvis.
The Rockies added another run in the fourth and had another runner thrown out. With runners on the corners, Chris Iannetta singled to left to bring in Gerardo Parra. Trevor Story tried to advance from first to third and was cut down by Jose Pirela.
Freeland allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
Brad Hand came on with two runners on to get the last out for his first save.
Rockies: RHP Jon Gray (0-1, 6.75 ERA) looks to bounce back from an opening-day loss to Arizona.
Padres: LHP Clayton Richard (0-0, 1.00 ERA) pitched seven strong innings on opening day.