Brewers’ 4-3 comeback victory keeps Padres from clinching
MILWAUKEE (AP)—The San Diego Padres are still waiting to clinch a playoff spot — and they can blame a familiar name.
Tony Gwynn Jr., son of the Hall of Famer whose statue stands outside the Padres’ ballpark, hit a tying, two-out triple off Trevor Hoffman in the ninth inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat San Diego 4-3 in the 11th on Saturday.
“It is quite ironic that it was Junior,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
The Padres were a strike away from their third straight playoff trip when Gwynn struck. It was another odd twist in what has been a strange final week of the season for San Diego, which is assured of at least a tie for the NL wild-card spot.
The Padres can wrap it up with a win Sunday.
Hoffman has called Gwynn Jr. “Anthony” ever since he was a little kid running around the Padres’ locker room. The first time Hoffman faced Gwynn Jr.— also giving up a single—he said it felt weird.
But Hoffman said it wasn’t personal on Saturday.
“Based on the situation and what’s at stake, all that stuff goes out the window,” Hoffman said.
Gwynn’s hit, coupled with Vinny Rottino’s RBI single in the 11th, prevented the Padres from moving on. The Padres’ loss clinched the NL West for Arizona and gave the Diamondbacks home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.
So what will the senior Gwynn—who now works as a broadcaster for the Padres but apparently wasn’t around for the end of Saturday’s game—think about the whole situation?
“I’m interested to see what he has to say about it,” Gwynn said.
“We don’t want to waste Jake if we don’t have to,” Black said. “And if we need him for a playoff game, we have him right there—full rested, not on three days’ rest.”
Peavy said he agreed with the decision, and hopes it won’t matter anyway.
“I think the boys will bounce back, and we’ll come in and play tomorrow and hopefully not have to go to Monday,” Peavy said.
A week ago, the Padres were in the middle of a four-game losing streak, facing tough competition from several teams for the wild card and having to deal with injuries to two key players, Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron.
Bradley’s injury came under the strangest of circumstances, as he tore a knee ligament when Black tackled him to prevent him from going after umpire Mike Winters during a confrontation last Sunday.
The Padres had rebounded to win four straight coming into Saturday’s game, and appeared to be cruising to a win before Gwynn delivered.
Hoffman said the team has been dealing with tough situations all season, and expects them to pull through once again.
“That’s going to be put to the test again,” Hoffman said. “It’s going to go down to the last game of the season. The positive is that it’s still in our corner. We still control of our own destiny. Go out and win tomorrow, and take care of business there.”
While the Brewers were disappointed about not making the playoffs, Brewers manager Ned Yost said finishing above .500 was an important goal.
“Even when you get to 81-81 it’s still, ‘Well, you haven’t had a winning season,”’ Yost said.
Gwynn figured it was only fitting that the Brewers came back on Saturday after the Padres eliminated them from the playoffs on Friday.
“They ended our chase,” Gwynn said. “I guess this is our way to get them back.”
Now Gwynn wants to see what his dad has to say.
“I’m assuming he was rooting for me,” Gwynn said.
Prince Fielder’s leg buckled when Jason Lane slid into first base in the top of the 11th. After spending a brief moment face-down on the ground, Fielder got up gingerly and walked back to the dugout. He took his turn at bat in the bottom half of the inning. … Tomko is 7-2 all-time against the Brewers with a 3.70 ERA. … The Brewers set the franchise record for attendance in a season on Saturday with a crowd of 40,946, pushing the season total to 2,826,729. The old record was 2,811,041. It was also the 30th sellout, another franchise record.