Padre reliever Trevor Rosenthal strikes out the side as he records a save in the team’s final win of the regular season. Photo credit: Screenshot, @padres, via Twitter

The San Diego Padres learned their playoff opponent Sunday – they will play the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park Wednesday in the three-game wild-card series.

They finished their season with a 5-4 win against the San Francisco Giants. The loss eliminated the Giants from the playoff picture.

Wil Myers – returning after experiencing quad tightness Friday – homered while Mitch Moreland got two hits.

With the win, the Padres improved their 2020 record to 37-23, the second-best in the National League behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

And they did it behind stars doing what’s expected of them, youngsters rising up and resurgent old favorites:

  • Manny Machado: Hit .304, with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs. Had a slow start, but has been on fire since mid-August.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr.: Hit .277, with 17 homers and 45 RBIs. Slowed down in September, but overall became the star experts predicted him to be.
  • Myers: Hit .288, with 15 homers. That’s a vast improvement over his 2019 campaign, in which he hit .239 with 18 homers – but in 155 games.
  • Dinelson Lamet: Went 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 12 games.

In fact, though the Dodgers continued to dominate, baseball observers consistently pointed to the Padres as the must-see team of the season. They also treated the trade deadline as a mad race, completing six deals just before Aug. 31.

Machado and Tatis sit among the group of NL MVP contenders, while Lamet, though more of a longshot, has been included in the Cy Young Award conversation.

The shortened 60-game season, delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, started in July. At times it seemed in peril, as teams, including the Cardinals, faced COVID-19 outbreaks.

First-year manager Jayce Tingler told he felt that difficulty – but found fun in his team’s many highs too.

“The one thing I’m 100 percent sure of: This has been the most challenging year I’ve personally been a part of,” he said. “And the other thing I’m sure of, too: This has been the most enjoyable, the (best) time I’ve ever had in 17, 18 years as well.”

– Staff reports