SAN DIEGO — Other than a sunny personality and a magnificent mane of hair that falls from beneath his cap down both sides of his chest as he pitches and some bright yellow cleats with flowers on the toes, Mike Clevinger had not been all that special with his new team.
He followed a not-terrible-but-not-impressive outing in his Padres debut last week by allowing the Colorado Rockies three runs in the first inning Tuesday night at Petco Park.
Then his teammates showed him how they do things in San Diego this year.
A grand slam in the first inning. A two-run double and three-run homer in the second. Lots of yelling and dancing and banging of forearms.
Clevinger responded by retiring 11 batters in a row from the end of the first inning to the fifth, and the Padres went on to a 14-5 victory over the Rockies.
The Padres lowered their magic number to clinch second place in the National League West to 13, at worst. It could drop to 12 depending on how the third-place San Francisco Giants did in their game against the Seattle Mariners. (The magic number is the combined number of wins by the Padres and losses by the team behind them that would, in this case, clinch second place for the Padres.)
The top two teams in each division plus two wild cards make the eight-team playoff field in each league this season.
The Padres, who have 16 games remaining, are attempting to make the postseason for the first time since 2006.
They are a different team, for sure. The kind that can overcome deficits. They have scored a major league-high 253 runs and Tuesday earned their 17th come-from-behind victory.
They are 15-12 when their opponent scores first this season after going 28-60 in such games last year.
The Padres were down 3-0 after a half-inning Tuesday when Trevor Story doubled, Charlie Blackmon walked and Nolan Arenado homered in succession with one out.
Where they were shut out in his first start, a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, the Padres scored for Clevinger this time.
They scored a lot, beginning by putting up five runs in each of the first two innings for the first time in franchise history.
Rockies starter Chi Chi Gonzalez began the game by walking three straight batters before striking out Mitch Moreland. He then hit Austin Nola.
Jose Mujica came in for his major league debut.
Wil Myers welcomed him with a grand slam down the line in right field, his second and the Padres' seventh of the season, to make it 5-3.
It was the Slam Diego Padres' first slam since Aug. 22, the night Jake Cronenworth hit the team's fifth in a six-game stretch. Their season total is more than double the number of grand slams by any other team.
Myers moved into a tie for the MLB lead with Manny Machado, Atlanta's Freddie Freeman and Oakland's Stephen Piscotty.
Clevinger began a run of three perfect innings by retiring the Rockies in order in the second.
He was working with a seven-run lead by the time he came out for the third inning.
Machado's two-run double and Nola's three-run homer put the Padres up 10-3 before an out was made in the bottom of the second.
Greg Garcia walked to lead off the third and scored from first base when Raimel Tapia mishandled Machado's single.
Myers homered to left-center field on the first pitch of the seventh, giving him a career-high-tying five RBIs.
Jason Castro and Jurickson Profar followed with back-to-back doubles to make it 13-5. Trent Grisham's sacrifice fly scored Profar, who had moved to third on a groundout.
It was the eighth time this season the Padres scored 10 or more runs. It was the seventh time they did so in their past 21 games. They reached double digits nine times (in 162 games) last season.
That would be enough to buoy most any pitcher, let alone the one acquired at great cost to help lift a franchise to new heights.
The Padres traded for Clevinger on Aug. 31 in a nine-player swap with the Cleveland Indians that required the Padres part with three of their top-11 minor league prospects and three major leaguers.
Clevinger's 2.96 ERA from 2017 to '19 was the sixth lowest in the majors. The pitchers in front of him were Jacob deGrom (2.53), Max Scherzer (2.64), Clayton Kershaw (2.69), Justin Verlander (2.81) and Corey Kluber (2.83). That group comprises the winners of five of the six Cy Young awards won in that span plus Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner.
After seven innings in brown, he showed the Padres what he had in person.
With a fastball still riding between 95 and 97 mph in his final inning and a slider that was much sharper than in his debut, Clevinger bounced back from the early runs by not allowing another baserunner until Tony Wolters' and Tapia hit back-to-back singles with one out in the fifth. Wolters ended up scoring on a fielder's choice grounder by Story to make it 11-4.
Having thrown 84 pitches in his second start in a month, the fifth inning was Clevinger's final one.
Taylor Williams, acquired in the seven-player trade with Seattle on Sunday, allowed a run in the sixth inning. Adrian Morejon, Pierce Johnson and Craig Stammen finished the night.
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