Friday at Coors Field, Jon Jay ripped a single into right-center field, Melvin Upton Jr. loped past third base and the dam began to crack.
The Padres had been on the field for a total of nine hours and six minutes in a season still in its infancy. They had gone 27 innings without scoring, a new major league record for season-opening ineffectiveness. In their first game on the road, in the sport’s premier setting for offense, the streak kept growing.
Twenty-eight innings, and still no run. ... Twenty-nine. ... Thirty.
One swing of the bat ended it there.
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In a 13-6 victory over Colorado, the Padres achieved catharsis. After 91 outs made without a run, Upton singled in the top of the fourth and stole second base. Starting pitcher Colin Rea walked. Then, Jay singled off Rockies starter Jordan Lyles, driving in San Diego’s first run of 2016.
“It’s been kind of a running joke in the clubhouse — we’ve got to score eventually,” Upton said afterward. “We were just trying to keep it loose. We kept it loose yesterday on the plane, we kept it loose today before the game. We stopped trying to force the issue today, and we just let it happen.”
It did happen, all at once. Cory Spangenberg followed Jay’s RBI with a triple. Matt Kemp singled. Wil Myers singled. Yangervis Solarte doubled. By the end of the inning, the Padres had taken a 6-2 lead on six hits, two that went for extra bases. Over their three-game opening series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they’d totaled 10 singles, one double and two walks.
Friday, they would go 18-for-44, including 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position. They walked five times and stole three bases. The Rockies’ home opener, attended by 49,360, served as the site of a dormant lineup’s grand awakening.
“As soon as the first run scored, I think everybody relaxed and you saw a lot of missiles be hit after that,” said Andy Green, the former Lexington Christian and University of Kentucky star who recorded his first win as a big-league manager. “These guys can hit; they’ve been good baseball players for a long time. It’s just one of those things that you just can’t explain in baseball where you go 30 innings and don’t score a run, and then you finally do and you’re looking at a dozen runs real fast.”
In the fifth, Kemp launched the Padres’ first home run of the season, a three-run shot. He singled three times and finished with four RBIs. His quartet of hits were his most in a game since Aug. 14, when he notched the first cycle in Padres history at this very ballpark.
“We have a great offense,” Kemp said. “We just have to have good at-bats and go out there and do our job, get those big hits when we need them, do the little things, move runners over, do all the things that good teams do. I think we’re going to be OK.”
In the sixth, Upton Jr. blasted a two-run homer.
In the ninth, Solarte piled on with a two-run double.
All of the above, combined with a stout relief appearance by Robbie Erlin, was more than enough to overcome another record-setting performance from Trevor Story; Colorado’s rookie phenom slammed two more home runs to give him six through his first four games.
Erlin, who was recalled from Triple-A El Paso in the morning, entered in the bottom of the fourth after Rea surrendered his fifth run. Erlin had been scheduled to start El Paso’s season opener Thursday, only to receive a phone call Wednesday night. Veteran reliever Matt Thornton was headed to the disabled list. Erlin was headed to Denver.