SAN DIEGO (AP) — With a mighty swing, Fernando Tatis Jr. brought back “Slam Diego” and sent Petco Park into a frenzy.
Tatis' 447-foot grand slam highlighted the San Diego Padres' 9-2 victory against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday that completed a sweep of a nine-game homestand.
It was a majestic shot, even by Tatis' lofty standards — he homered twice and drove in six runs during this romp.
The 22-year-old superstar knew it was gone. Pitcher Robert Dugger knew it was gone. Center fielder Kyle Lewis simply turned around and watched the ball sail to the base of the batter's eye.
Tatis took a few steps and, holding his bat by the barrel, flipped it aside before starting his trot. He did his trademark stutter step as he approached third base.
“Get a good pitch and just put the barrel on it. Simple as that," Tatis said about his approach with the bases loaded.
It was his 13th homer this season and his second career grand slam. The first, last Aug. 17 at Texas, launched “Slam Diego,” a streak of four grand slams by the Padres in four straight games, a first in baseball history. Jake Cronenworth later extended the streak to five slams in six games, another first.
Tatis also hit a 441-foot solo shot into the second deck in left field leading off the second and singled in the go-ahead run during the three-run sixth.
He's on a remarkable run since returning Wednesday from a case of COVID-19 that sidelined him for eight games.
Moved into the cleanup spot by manager Jayce Tingler, Tatis has gone 11 for 14 in four games, with four homers, 12 RBIs, four doubles, three walks, just one strikeout and three stolen bases.
“I think he's gotten healthy,” Tingler said. "When he goes in these stretches, he looks so under control. He’s on fastballs, he’s on breaking balls, he’s not trying to do too much. He's finishing with balance, his head is behind the ball. He’s not trying to generate more.
“With him, less is more. He’s just taking good, balanced swings and his talent’s playing.”
Tatis was activated Wednesday against Colorado and Tingler put him at cleanup. He responded with four hits, including a homer, and two RBIs.
Tingler said he'd been thinking of making the move for a while, but added: “Honestly, it doesn’t have anything to do with where he’s at. It's a credit to Tatis. He’s playing his game. He's taking balanced swings, swinging at the right pitches, not trying to do too much and finding the sweet part of the bat.”
Tatis, who signed a $340 million, 14-year contract — the longest in baseball history — during spring training, reached two milestones during the homestand. He became the fastest shortstop to hit 50 career homers, and he collected his 200th career hit.
Sunday was his 173rd career game, over three seasons.
Tatis said he's had “a great approach at the plate” since his return, and has wanted to contribute to the winning streak.
“Everybody was playing good, clean baseball, and when you have a team that plays that way, you just add a little bit more with more confidence.”
And he feels good hitting cleanup.
“I like those situations that I get when I’m going to the plate. And I’m doing a pretty good job over there,” he said.
The Padres took three-game series against St. Louis, Colorado and Seattle. Overall, they have won 12 of 13 games.
Yu Darvish (5-1) pitched seven strong innings to win his second straight start, holding Seattle to one run and seven hits while striking out five and walking none.
Tatis put a charge into the crowd when he homered in the second off Justin Dunn.
Dunn got that run back when he hit an RBI double off Darvish for his first big league hit.
Tatis’ homer was the only hit allowed by Dunn in five innings. With the score tied at 1, Dunn made way for Anthony Misiewicz (2-3) starting the sixth, and the lefty promptly allowed four straight hits, including Tatis’ sharp RBI single.
After Eric Hosmer singled to right to load the bases, JT Chargois came on and allowed a sacrifice fly by Wil Myers, with Tatis having enough speed to advance to third. Tatis then scored on Victor Caratini’s groundout.
Mariners: Placed RHP Kendall Graveman on the injured list without giving a reason. To take his spot, RHP Wyatt Mills was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
Padres: Myers was activated after missing 10 games following a positive COVID-19 test that forced him to be removed from a game at Colorado on May 11. OF Brian O’Grady was optioned to Triple-A El Paso. ... RHP Keone Kela, who had Tommy John surgery last week, was moved to the 60-day IL. ... Tingler continued to hold out 3B Manny Machado (shoulder) and CF Trent Grisham (heel).
Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (1-3, 4.32 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at Oakland.
Padres: LHP Blake Snell (1-0, 3.79) is scheduled to start Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at Milwaukee.
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