San Diego Padres: Top Ten Moments of the Year 2016
The new year is among us, and with it comes a lot of excitement for the future of the San Diego Padres. Before we move into 2017 though, it is time to take a quick look at 2016’s best moments.
The San Diego Padres are in a rebuilding process, so 2016 will most often be considered a year to forget. However, like any year, it was not absent of exciting and memorable moments which are worth revisiting.
Even though the Padres finished tied for the worst record in the National League, they have fans moments to remember forever. They also showed flashes of brilliance, contributing to a renewed sense of optimism around San Diego.
Organized into the top ten moments of 2016, this list breaks down the most memorable events of the calendar year. A lot happened, so this list does not include everything. But these ten moments, ranked from ten to one, are the ten moments fans will remember most from a rough 2016.
Jul 22, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Brandon Maurer (37) is congratulated by San Diego Padres catcher Derek Norris (3) after earning a save against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
10. Season Series Snatched from Nats
The Padres did not have many glorious moments this past season, or this past calendar year in general. But one memorable series occurred in late July, when the club traveled to Washington to take on the red hot Nationals.
Earlier in the season at Petco Park, the Nats and Padres split a four game series. This mid-June matchup was the first of the two teams’ meetings, as they later had a three game series.
The Padres took the first game of the series 5-3 thanks to a four run fifth. The next day however, the Nationals walked-off the Padres to force a series deciding Sunday afternoon matinee.
This meant that the final game of the series would determine the season series between these two clubs. The Padres trailed in the eighth in this rubber game, but Alex Dickerson and Ryan Schimpf went back-to-back to tie the game at six.
Then, Yangervis Solarte hit a clutch single to give the Padres a 7-6 lead with two outs. After Alexei Ramirez blew it open later in the frame, the Padres were 10-6 winners and were victorious over the Nationals. Taking four out of the season’s seven meetings with Washington, San Diego had defeated the NL East champions.
Sep 13, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers (4) celebrates with first base coach Bill Hayes (58) after earning a walk to walk in a runner against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at AT&T Park. The San Diego Padres defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
9. Padres Rally Past the Giants
It was a chilly mid September evening in San Francisco. The Padres had been out of the playoff race for quite some time, but the Giants were right on the brink, still fighting for a spot. Playing spoiler, San Diego was expected to merely roll over and get beat up by their rivals.
Early on during September 13th’s game, it appeared that this was exactly what was going to happen. San Diego trailed 4-1 all the way until the ninth, when they put together an unlikely rally.
Schimpf highlighted the five run outburst with a three run blast with two outs. Despite being down to their final out in this one, the Padres were resilient and showed fans a glimpse of the excitement they hope is to come.
The very next day, San Diego pulled off another upset over the same Giants club, defeating them 3-1 and taking the series. Even though they didn’t keep San Francisco out of the postseason, this series is one of the more memorable of the year.
May 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres catcher Christian Bethancourt (12) celebrates with second baseman Jose Pirela (17) after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
8. Padres Take Series at Wrigley
San Diego defeated the eventual World Series Champions at their historic home field. In hindsight, this is quite an accomplishment which is worth recognition on a list like this.
A furious comeback effort in the first game of their series with the Cubs in May fell short, as Chicago defeated the Padres 8-7. Rebounding from this, San Diego came back to Wrigley Field the very next afternoon and came back with a four run seventh to knock off Chicago by a final of 7-4.
Due to the postponement of the opening game of the series, the two teams played a doubleheader on this day, meaning that the series finale would be the second game. In the rubber game, Drew Pomeranz put forth six scoreless innings, and was backed by three relievers who finished the shutout. Christian Bethancourt hit a solo shot with two outs in the fifth, serving as the only run of the game. The Padres held on to win 1-0.
Any doubleheader sweep provides a very rewarding feeling to fans, since it is extremely difficult to win two games in one day. Even more so, defeating the Cubs at Wrigley made this a moment to remember. Even though fans did not know Chicago was going to win it all at the time, the Cubs were 25-6 entering the day. Handing them two more losses and taking the series, the Padres had a lot to feel good about.
Sep 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Diego Padres second baseman Ryan Schimpf (11) hits a two run home run in the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
7. Schimpf Hits 20th Bomb
Despite the team losing their final three to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Padres experienced one of their season’s top moments when Ryan Schimpf blasted his 20th home run of the season.
As just the third Padre rookie to hit 20 bombs in a season, Schimpf has established himself as one of the organization’s bright young stars. Playing in only 89 major league games, the infielder was extremely efficient and consistent with his power.
In Arizona during the final weekend of the season, Schimpf came through in the clutch by muscling one over the center field wall. Even though the Padres went on to fall 5-3, this moment was one which brought many fans to their feet no matter where they were watching.
Moving towards 2017, many of this past year’s top moments point towards what may be to come. This is one of them, as a play like this gets Padres fans excited about what they expect to see from the young power hitter as his career continues.
Sep 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard (27) pitches during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
6. Clayton Richard Signed
The Padres had trouble with their rotation for much of 2016, and the loss of Drew Pomeranz mid season made matters even worse.
Thankfully, San Diego didn’t quit on their pitching staff, knowing that they would be needed in order to halt a tough stretch. On August 6th, the organization signed Clayton Richard, a left-handed starter.
Richard went on to start nine games and win three, posting a 2.52 ERA in 53 and 2/3 innings. These results not only provided a much needed boost for the rotation, they also gave fans something to look forward to if the team were to re-sign the southpaw.
Sure enough, for just $1.75 million, Richard is back. And both of these signings of Richard, for late 2016 and 2017, will be remembered by fans as one of the most exciting moments of 2016.
Jul 17, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Matt Kemp (C) second baseman Ryan Schimpf (11) and shortstop Alexei Ramirez (L) celebrate a 5-3 win to sweep the series with the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
5. Padres Sweep Giants
In a thrilling mid July three game series against the Giants, the Padres pulled off three memorable upset victories.
Beginning on a Friday night at Petco Park, Andrew Cashner dominated and led San Diego to the series opening 4-1 win. The next night, the two teams competed in one of the most exciting games of the year, an extra inning victory for the Padres. Despite being down a run going into the bottom of the tenth, the Padres rallied with three singles and walked off thanks to a balk.
The series finale on Sunday was not as dramatic, but still ended in San Diego’s favor. The Padres, staving off a late San Francisco rally, sent their fans home happy with a sweep over their division foes.
The sweep helped slow down a hot Giants team, and gave the Padres a lot of satisfaction in front of their home fans. As far as 2016 went, this weekend sweep was one of the more fond memories fans will take away.
Sep 28, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres center fielder Manuel Margot (70) and third baseman Yangervis Solarte (26) are congratulated after scoring during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
4. September Callups
By the end of August, it was clear that the Padres were not going to contend for the postseason. At this point, many fans lowered their expectations and shifted their attention to the performance of the young players who would represent the future of the organization.
For fans, the September callups were quite a treat. From Renfore to Margot, and then later Asuaje, this glimpse of the future was one which excited many fans.
After all, Renfroe won National League player of the week honors in his first full week in the majors. Margot showed exactly why he is such a highly touted defensive outfielder on multiple occasions, and why his speed on the base paths is needed.
Though late September was not as exciting for San Diego fans as it was for fans of contending clubs, this month was undoubtedly still one of 2016’s most memorable. As the September callups and subsequent weeks has shown, the future of the big league club is bright.
Jul 2, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Melvin Upton Jr. (2) celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk off home run during the ninth inning to defeat the New York Yankees 2-1 at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
3. Upton’s Walk off Blast
It was a Saturday night early in July, and the Padres had the rare opportunity to host the New York Yankees in the second of a three game interleague series.
Pomeranz got the start, and dominated the Yankees for the majority of the outing. New York starter Ivan Nova was effective over 5 and 1/3 as well, making for an intriguing pitcher’s duel.
A scoreless game went into the sixth inning, when the Yankees pushed across the go ahead run thanks to an RBI ground out. The Padres wasted no time getting right back even though, as Matt Kemp drove Wil Myers home with a double.
Even if the Yankees were having a rough season, a thrilling victory like this against a 27 time world champion belongs high on this list.
Sep 27, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe (71) hits a three run home run during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
2. Renfroe Explodes
The most memorable single game the Padres played this season was the one in which 24-year-old Hunter Renfroe had his coming out party.
On a Tuesday night at Petco Park, Renfroe had a night to remember, driving in all seven runs in a 7-1 victory. Overshadowing a solid performance by starter Paul Clemens and the Padres’ bullpen, Renfroe exploded with two key blasts.
The first was a three run bomb in the first inning, sailing well into the left field seats. The hit could not have come at a better time, as is gave the Padres a 3-0 lead with two outs. His second was even more majestic, as he crushed a grand slam in the eighth to straight away center, clearing the wall 396 feet away from home plate.
It was a really satisfying feeling for fans to have beaten the division champion Dodgers who had just recently clinched. But even more memorable was Renfroe’s enormous night, one which provided fans with even more hope for the team’s young outfield.
Jul 12, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; National League infielder Kris Bryant (17) of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with Wil Myers (4) of the San Diego Padres after hitting a solo home run in the first inning in the 2016 MLB All Star Game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
1. The All-Star Game
It was quite possibly a once in a lifetime type of experience for the city of San Diego and Petco Park. Hosting the midsummer classic for the first time since 1992, the city was buzzing all week as the festivities went on.
In an exciting home run derby on Monday night, as fans got to witness Giancarlo Stanton obliterate twenty baseballs in the final round deep into the night air.
Then, during the main event the next night, they got to witness baseball’s best compete in a low scoring all-star game. Ending in a 4-2 American League victory, fans didn’t necessarily get what they wanted. But the experience of having the game at the Padres’ home park transcended any results.
With Wil Myers hitting cleanup, fans also got the opportunity to take a lot of pride in one of their players. Moving forward from a difficult season, this memory will live on. The magnitude of this game and the attention that comes with it gave fans quite a treat in July of this year.
2016 had more downs than ups on the field. But as is the case in any year, there were moments during the season which fans will remember forever. From exciting walk offs to upset victories to the midsummer classic, 2016’s memory will always live on even as better days seem to be ahead. With that said, bring on 2017.
Happy New Year to all San Diego fans! Go Padres!
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