The Phillies and San Diego Padres do not have much of a history with each other.
Oh sure, there have been a couple memorable moments here and there, like in 1993 when Milt Thompson went over the wall to make a game-saving catch in an early May match-up out west...
...and Mitch Williams finally ending a marathon doubleheader against them later in the season.
Tony Gwynn hit his first career grand slam against the Phils in 1995...
...in ‘91, Randy Ready turned a triple play (it could have been unassisted if he just tagged the runner at 2nd)...
...Rickey Henderson passed Babe Ruth as the all-time walks leader (excitement!!!)...
...Utley hit a walk-off homer in 2005...
...and Mike Schmidt retired in the San Diego locker room.
And folks, there’s not much else there, which is pretty shocking considering these two teams have played each other twice a year, every year, since the Padres came into existence in 1969.
This week, the two teams will make a whole bunch of new memories together as they square off in the National League Championship Series, a series that feels like two strangers wandering into an abandoned ballroom and only each other with which to dance.
I mean, other than Blake Snell hitting Bryce Harper on the thumb in late June, do you even remember the seven games these teams played against each other this year? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
The Phillies lost two out of three to the Padres at home in May, then went to San Diego in __ and took three out of four, winning the season series 4-3. The Phils outscored the Friars 21-15, giving the seven games an average score of 3-2.
In other words, the hitters didn’t have a lot of answers against either team’s pitching staff.
All seven of their games came ahead of the trade deadline, prior to Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury and Josh Hader’s arrival. Safe to say, that’s a big difference, but it also came before Brandon Marsh, David Robertson and Noah Syndergaard came to Philly. No doubt San Diego’s reinforcements are more impactful, although Marsh has been a vital part of the Phils’ postseason run.
So let’s take a quick look back at the seven games these teams played earlier this season and reacquaint ourselves with this team.
When San Diego came to Philadelphia for a three-game series May 17-19, the Phils were 17-18, 2nd place in the NL East, 5 1⁄2 games behind the Mets.
May 17 — Padres 3 Phillies 0
Mike Clevinger went five innings and allowed just one baserunner with five strikeouts in shutting down a Phillies lineup with Rhys Hoskins hitting out of the leadoff spot, Kyle Schwarber in the 3-hole, J.T. Realmuto hitting 7th and Roman Quinn starting in center field. Bryce Harper did not play in this series, as he was dealing with his injured elbow. The Phils tallied just five hits total and didn’t even have much of an opportunity to leave runners on, going 0-for-3 with RISP. MacKenzie Gore pitched three shutout innings and Taylor Rogers got the save.
Zach Eflin pitched well, giving up just one run in six innings of work, but the immortal James Norwood took over in the 7th and promptly gave up two runs on a hit and a walk, recording one out before Brad Hand stopped the bleeding. Austin Nola hit an RBI groundout, Robinson Cano (!!!) added an RBI single and postseason hero Trent Grisham added an RBI double in what might have been the most boring game of the season. There’s a reason you don’t remember it.
May 18 — Phillies 3 Padres 0
The following evening, the Phils returned the favor, scoring single runs in the 1st, 3rd and 4th innings off Blake Snell, who lasted only 3 2⁄3 innings, giving up 3 hits and three walks, including a solo homer to Rhys Hoskins in the 3rd.
J.T. Realmuto’s RBI single in the 1st got things started, and an Odubel Herrera RBI double knocked Snell out in the 4th. Tonight’s Game 1 starter, Zack Wheeler, was awesome, going seven shutout innings with just four hits, nine strikeouts and no walks allowed.
Corey Knebel (remember him?) got the save with a 1-2-3 9th.
May 19 — Padres 2 Phillies 0
In keeping with the vibe of the previous two games, the Phils and Padres played another low scoring, no-offense affair, with Yu Darvish shutting down the Harper-less Phillies, 2-0. He went seven innings and gave up six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Former Phillie rebuild great Luis Garcia pitched 2⁄3 of an inning, and Rogers cleaned up for a four out save.
Kyle Gibson got the start and pitched well, back when that was a thing that happened, going 5 2⁄3 innings with eight hits allowed but just two runs and seven strikeouts. Seranthony Dominguez, Brad Hand, Andrew Bellatti and Connor Brogdon all pitched 3 1⁄3 innings of scoreless relief. There were no extra base hits by either team in this game.
In other words, and utterly forgettable, Bryce Harper-less series. Good times.
Following the firing of Joe Girardi, the Phillies came to San Diego in a much better place, 36-34 and winners of 15 of their previous 20.
June 23 — Phillies 6 Padres 2
The pitching match-up for this one is likely to mirror what we’ll see in Game 3, with left-hander Ranger Suarez matching up with Joe Musgrove. Hopefully, we’ll see a repeat performance on Friday, as the Phils tagged Musgrove for seven hits and six runs in six innings thanks to a five-run 6th, an outing that raised his ERA to 2.12! Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homer, which was followed by a J.T. Realmuto three-run shot to provide the Phils with all the scoring they would need.
Saurez had one of his finest performances of the season, pitching into the 8th inning and giving up just two runs on seven hits, with Dominguez and Hand pitching the final 1 2⁄3 innings of scoreless relief.
June 24 — Padres 1 Phillies 0
Aaron Nola and MacKenzie Gore were locked in a surprise pitcher’s duel, and on this day, Nola’s offense failed to support his outstanding effort. Nola went seven innings, struck out 10 and allowed just one run, a 6th inning RBI single to his brother, catcher Austin Nola.
That one had to sting. The Phillies tallied just five hits off three San Diego relievers in yet another low-scoring affair between these two teams.
June 25 — Phillies 4 Padres 2
For the second time the Phillies took on left-hander Blake Snell and, for the second time, came out on the winning side. But the victory came at a cost.
Harper suffered a broken thumb and missed 52 games, then struggled for the final month of the season upon his return. Thankfully, he’s back to full strength and fully in MVP form, but this was a scary, the-season-might-be-over moment.
Zach Eflin had another good outing against the Padres, pitching five innings and giving up four hits on two runs with two walks and three strikeouts. Once again, the bullpen dominated the San Diego lineup, with Bellatti, Knebel, Hand and Dominguez all pitching a scoreless inning.
June 26 — Phillies 8 Padres 5
In the most offensive game of the seven these teams played, the Phils overcame a 5-3, 7th-inning deficit by scoring three in the 7th and one more in the 8th and 9th to hand San Diego an 8-5 defeat. Kyle Gibson didn’t make it through the 3rd, but the bullpen once again held down the fort, giving up nothing over the final 6 1⁄3 innings, including three scoreless by Nick Nelson. Yu Darvish controlled the Phils through six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with just one walk and nine strikeouts.
The Phils did their damage against a human being named Nabil Crismatt, who was not on their NLDS roster. He served up this go-ahead, three-run home run to Schwarber that put the Phils in front.
A lot has changed since late June, and both teams have very different rosters than they did back then.
In other words, much of what you read above may not matter one iota once the first pitch is thrown tonight at 8:03pm ET in San Diego.