Snell buckles after 6 perfect innings; Angels blank Padres

By Jeff Sanders

Blake Snell more or less shrugged as Padres manager Jayce Tingler pulled him from his previous start without a single hit on his pitching line.

The bigger picture, Snell and his skipper reasoned last week in Arizona, was more important than chasing the franchise’s second no-hitter.

Besides, Snell appears to have plenty of no-hit innings in the holster.

If only his offense had a few more hits to call their own.

The Padres’ resurgent left-hander on Tuesday opened a two-game series with the Angels with another six perfect innings before buckling. That Jo Adell’s seventh-inning, two-run single proved the back-breaker only added to the mounting frustration at Petco Park as a 4-0 loss again dropped the Padres into a tie for the NL’s second wild-card spot with the Reds, a winner Tuesday in Chicago.

It was hardly Snell’s fault.

He threw 66 pitches over six perfect innings before issuing his first three-ball count Tuesday.

That led to David Fletcher’s leadoff walk in a scoreless game. A replay review showed Snell got the tag down on Luis Rengifo’s ensuing bunt attempt, but Fletcher swiped third base, Jack Mayfield walked and stole second and Adell lined the Angels’ first hit of the game past a diving Jake Cronenworth at shortstop for a two-run single.

Bye-bye, perfect game.

So long, no-hitter and shutout.

Even worse, the Padres had wasted yet another gem from Snell, whose six-start run of dominance in August was good for no better than three wins for the Padres’ hit-and-miss offense.

“When he’s on his game, he’s as good as anybody in the league,” Tingler said. “You’re getting a legit Cy Young candidate. You’re for sure getting a legit ace. You look back at our last couple games and what’s been encouraging is the starting pitching is starting to get deeper into games and they’ve been throwing the ball well.

“I think that’s a very encouraging sign for everybody.”

Nobody has been as sharp as Snell.

In fact, that brilliant August in which he paired a 1.72 ERA with a .151/.225/.286 opposing batting line was punctuated by the seven no-hit innings he threw on the last day of the month, a 10-strikeout gem that pushed his pitch count to 107 on the heels of throwing a career-high 122 pitches in his previous start.

With an eye on needing Snell, a disappointment in the first half, to front a September playoff push, Tingler pulled the former Cy Young winner before the eighth inning and watched Pierce Johnson give up a one-out single to David Peralta.

On Tuesday, Snell ultimately fetched a groundout to end a 34-pitch seventh inning — or two more pitches than he’d thrown through the first three innings of the game. He finished with 11 strikeouts on 100 pitches (70 strikes) and at least a piece of Padres history.

Including the seven no-hit innings thrown in Arizona on Aug. 31, Snell’s 13 2/3 consecutive hitless innings were the most ever by a Padres pitcher, passing Bill Laxton’s run of 13 in July/August 1974.

“He’s been on a pretty good roll,” Tingler said before Tuesday’s game. “… Feels like in his delivery, he’s been a lot more consistent. He’s been really north and south and getting down the mound and he’s been aggressive with all his pitches. We’ve always known when he’s ahead, 0-1 and 1-2, he’s got really good swing-and-miss stuff. And so right now he’s been on a pretty good tear of being aggressive in the zone and getting ahead.”

The problem Tuesday was Packy Naughton was even more frustrating than he was last month while limiting the Padres to two unearned runs in 4 1/3 innings in relief in his second big-league appearance.

This time?

The Boston native (where else with a name like Packy?) struck out five batters, scattered two hits and two walks and didn’t allow a runner past second base over five shutout innings.

The only runner who touched second base with Naughton still in the game was stranded when Ha-seong Kim and Snell struck out with runners on first and second in the second inning.

Naughton retired the final seven hitters he faced before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth.

Manny Machado opened the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff single off Jimmy Herget, but he was erased quickly when Jake Cronenworth lined into a double play and the Angels’ bullpen didn’t allow another hit until Cronenworth’s one-out single off Raisel Iglesias in the ninth.

Tommy Pham followed with a walk, but Wil Myers grounded out to second and Jurickson Profar flied out to center to end the game.

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