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Chris Paddack flirts with no-hitter in Marlins Park debut

Welp, the rookie right-hander got his revenge. Even so, the Marlins came excruciatingly close to completing a comeback win.

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MLB: San Diego Padres at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Former Marlins prospect Chris Paddack delivered on the hype Wednesday night, no-hitting the Fish into the eighth inning and carrying the Padres to a 3-2 win. His battery mate Austin Hedges would also play a critical role, homering against Trevor Richards and recording the controversial final out by framing a “borderline” strike three.

  • Chris Paddack: 7.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HR (94 pitches)
  • Trevor Richards: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR (90 pitches)

Seven starts removed from earning his most recent win, Richards showed a promising changeup from the get-go:

But the Padres would rally to take the lead in the top of the fourth. Manuel Margot doubled on a line drive to right, then came around to score on Greg Garcia’s single up the middle. The deficit swelled to 3-0 when Hedges—.185 BA, 46 wRC+ entering the game—went deep for a two-run homer.

That rally alone provided enough support for Paddack.

Throwing 69.1 percent of his pitches for strikes, “The Sheriff” stuck with the formula that fueled his excellent first half of the season: alternating between fastballs and changeups with a handful of curveballs mixed in. He racked up seven strikeouts through five perfect innings, finally yielding a baserunner to lead off the sixth when César Puello reached on a Fernando Tatís Jr. throwing error.

The Padres, notoriously, are the only active MLB franchise to never pitch a no-hitter. You began to feel that Paddack could be the one to snap the drought in the bottom of the seventh when Hunter Renfroe—who had just been moved from left field to right field earlier that inning—made an impressive running catch.

Thankfully, the Marlins avoided that indignity when red-hot Starlin Castro blasted a solo home run in the eighth. In the process, the veteran trade candidate also extended his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games.

Castro brought the Fish to within 3-2 in the ninth with a bloop RBI single against Kirby Yates (a rally set up by first baseman Eric Hosmer struggling to make picks on a pair of throws in the dirt). Curtis Granderson worked a full count with two outs and had the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position.

Alas, Hedges would be the hero for the road team. He presented a should-have-been ball four to home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn and got the strike call to end the game.

With the late, great José Fernández on his mind, per Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription required), Paddack authored an ace-like performance. Lowering his earned run average to 2.70 with 95 strikeouts through 90 career innings, the fiery rookie continues to establish himself as the ace of an uber-talented Padres team that could be a dangerous postseason contender as soon as 2020.

Marlins fans can only fantasize about what could’ve been if not for that ill-advised trade three years ago...

It was a strong effort from the Marlins bullpen, at least—José Quijada, Jarlin García, Wei-Yin Chen and Sergio Romo combined for four scoreless innings pitched.

Thursday’s getaway day series finale begins at 12:10 p.m., matching the earliest Marlins start time of the season. Probable starters are strikeout artists Dinelson Lamet and Caleb Smith.

Padres vs. Marlins box score (Baseball Theater)

Fish Picks answer key

  1. Paddack
  2. Under
  3. Under
  4. No
  5. Padres
  6. Starlin Castro (bonus)