SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Padres haven't partied this hard at Petco Park in 17 years.
The Padres clinched a playoff spot while batting in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, drawing a roar from the sellout crowd of 41,407 after the Miami Marlins beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in 12 innings.
The Padres had a chance to walk it off and celebrate on the field but Jorge Alfaro — who has five game-winning plate appearances this year — grounded out with two runners on to end a 2-1 loss.
Fireworks went off, but there an awkward few moments as the Padres milled around in and around the dugout and were given postseason shirts and caps. Manager Bob Melvin was drenched with a cooler of water and the team went out to the mound for a team photo.
They finally let it rip with a raucous clubhouse celebration that included drenching each other with sparkling wine and beer.
“It's a been a long time since we've been in this spot,” said right-hander Joe Musgrove, who grew up a Padres fan in suburban El Cajon and pitched their first no-hitter in his second start with the team in 2021. “It's pretty crazy how it all worked out, I end up back here in a year where we've got a team like we have to make it this far.”
Musgrove had plenty of his No-No Joe Double IPA from Resident Brewing on hand for the celebration. The beer was launched after his no-hitter.
“After the no-hitter, that moment was massive for me, for the city, for everybody, but that's not what I want to be remembered by," Musgrove said. "I want to be one of the guys that help bring a championship to the city, especially my own hometown.”
The Padres trailed 2-0 when they clinched, but Kim Ha-seong homered a few minutes later.
San Diego is one game ahead of Philadelphia for the second of three NL wild cards.
The Padres won a wild-card series against St. Louis after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before being swept in the division series by the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Before that, they hadn’t been to the playoffs since winning the NL West in 2005 and 2006. Their clinch celebration in 2005 was so wild that ace Jake Peavy broke a rib while jumping up and down with teammates and Robert Fick poured a bottle of tequila over Bruce Bochy's head, not realizing it would burn the skipper's eyes. The Padres clinched on the road in 2006.
The Padres had a clubhouse celebration in 2020, but this playoff spot means much more, said Wil Myers, the longest-tenured Padres player.
“There's a difference in the grind of two months and six months,” Myers said. “The six-month grind, with the ups and downs, makes this even more worth it.”
It’s the seventh playoff berth in franchise history and the fourth since Petco Park opened in 2004. The Padres haven’t been to the World Series since 1998, when they were swept by the New York Yankees.
The Padres reached the playoffs this year without electrifying shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who was on the cusp of returning from a broken left wrist when he was suspended for 80 games by MLB on Aug. 12 for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Slugger Manny Machado has carried the Padres most of the season offensively and they added Juan Soto from Washington in a blockbuster deal on Aug. 2.
The Padres hired the veteran Melvin after last year’s brutal September collapse cost Jayce Tingler his job.
“Today when everybody showed up here there was a lot of electricity, knowing this could be the day,” Melvin said.
“It would have been nice to take care of it on our own. There was some drama at the end. I'm glad Alfaro got a chance to get that last at-bat because of what he's meant for the team this year, all the walk-offs and so forth. Regardless of the outcome of this game, you have to realize what we've been through and how hard it's been and celebrate," he said.
Melvin said he was following the Marlins-Brewers game on the out-of-town scoreboard.
“It was exhausting. It really was,” the manager said. “You're grinding on your own game because you know you have a chance to win and take care of business and then you go through watching an extra inning game.” He told pitching coach Ruben Niebla after the 10th inning that he was going to stop watching.
“I heard the ovation from the crowd and obviously knew. Give them credit to for following along, as invested as they are, and to give that kind of ovation, you kind of know what's happening,” he said.
Lance Lynn (8-7) and Blake Snell 8-10) were locked in a scoreless duel when Elvis Andrus homered off the San Diego lefty with one out in the sixth, his 16th. His shot reached the top balcony of the brick warehouse in the left field corner.
The White Sox went ahead 2-0 on Adam Engel's two-out single in the seventh that brought in Andrew Vaughn, who had drawn a leadoff walk.
San Diego got on the scoreboard when Kim homered to left off Lynn with two outs in the seventh, his 11th.
Lynn allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.
Snell allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked one.
White Sox: RHP Bailey Ober (2-3, 3.18 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday at home against the Minnesota Twins, who will counter with Johnny Cueto (7-10, 3.39).
Padres: Musgrove (10-7, 3.03) gets the start Monday night at home against the San Francisco Giants, who will go with Carlos Rodón (14-8, 2.88).
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