Saturday, June 25, 2022

Padres sweep Cubs to move into first place in NL West and continue best start in franchise history

The San Diego Padres have been one of the hottest teams in baseball this month. Now they’re in sole possession of first place in the NL West. The Padres completed a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon (SD 6, CHC 4), moving them a half-game ahead of the idle Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here are the updated NL West standings. Every team in the division has either already played Thursday or has an off-day, so these are the end of day standings:

  1. San Diego Padres: 41-24
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers: 39-23 (0.5 GB)
  3. San Francisco Giants: 35-26 (4.5 GB)
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks: 30-35 (11 GB)
  5. Colorado Rockies: 27-37 (14.5 GB)

The Padres have won four straight games, eight of their past 10 games, and 11 of their past 14 games. San Diego won series against the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers during this 11-3 stretch. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have gone 5-6 during that time and have seen their four-game division lead evaporate. Nomar Mazara slugged a two-run homer for the Padres on Thursday.

This is the first time the Padres are in sole possession of first place this late in the season since Sept. 25, 2010, when they were a half-game up on the Giants with eight games remaining in the season. San Diego lost five of those final eight games to finish two games behind San Francisco in the NL West, and missed the postseason.

At 41-24, the Padres have the best record through 65 games in franchise history, beating out 1998 (40-25) and 1984 (39-26). Those are San Diego’s two National League pennant winning seasons. The Padres have never won the World Series — they lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games in 1984 and were swept by the New York Yankees in 1998.

Of course, the Padres still have 97 games remaining, and a half-game lead at this point is nothing. That said, San Diego is not short on talent. They have a bona fide MVP candidate in Manny Machado and a deep starting rotation led by Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove. The Padres aren’t perfect, but they are very, very good. There’s no reason they can’t contend for the NL West title.

FanGraphs puts San Diego’s NL West title odds at 42.5 percent, trailing only the Dodgers in the division (49.5 percent). Both clubs are well over 90 percent to make the expanded 12-team postseason field. The Padres were expected to contend for the World Series last year but instead went 79-83, including losing 34 of their final 46 games.

San Diego will open a three-game series against the Rockies at Coors Field on Friday night. The Dodgers will welcome the Cleveland Guardians to Chavez Ravine for a three-game home series. The Padres and Dodgers still have 16 games remaining against each other this season, including four at Petco Park later this month.  

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