It did not take until September this year.
It couldn’t wait this time. The clock might not be running out on the Padres, but it is time to stop hitting the snooze button and wake up.
The Padres lost 5-3 to the Twins on Thursday, another game they know could have and even should have been a victory.
And afterward, their manager let them know and did not hide it from the world that he was fed up.
“We have guys that can perform better, and we’re going to, but it’s time to quit just talking about it,” Bob Melvin said. “It’s time to go out there and do it. Another frustrating game for us. Underperformed.”
The generally genteel Melvin was clearly agitated even before beginning to address reporters’ questions in his office after the game. He was ejected in the eighth inning for admonishing home plate umpire Brock Ballou to be better in regards to the strike zone. But that wasn’t anywhere near the source of Melvin’s anger.
Similar to the only other time he appeared as riled as he was Thursday, last Sept. 15 in Arizona, Melvin simply could no longer abide a team not playing up to its potential.
“We’ve just got to fight a little harder and expect a little bit more of ourselves — all of us, myself included,” he said. “We have not done that to this point. These stretches happen. But it’s gone on too long. We’ve got to break through here at some point.”
Thing was, the Padres did get a little bit of what they needed Thursday. The top of their batting order was relatively productive. They took three leads. But one run at a time eventually proved to be not enough.
And that tune is played out.
“I agree 100 percent on everything that he said today,” Fernando Tatis Jr. said. “We have been saying too much, ‘Oh, it’s gonna come, it’s gonna come.’ But we’ve gotta make it happen. It’s not about it’s gonna come. We gotta make it happen. I feel like everybody here in this clubhouse is good enough to make it happen. It’s up to us to hold ourselves accountable and (do) the right job.”
The timing of a team deciding it must regroup is certainly paramount.
The Padres headed to Los Angeles on Thursday as a .500 team that seems worse than that, and the quarter point of the season arrives at the end of their upcoming three-game series against the Dodgers.
“Of course, it’s urgency,” Tatis said. “We just gotta play better, period. Whoever we’re playing next, but especially now we’re playing the Dodgers. Division games. They’re very important. So we better step the (expletive) up.”
As with so many games this season, Thursday had enough highlights to make it unbearably frustrating that the ending brought another loss.
It also brought at least a modicum of concern about health.
The Padres got six innings from Yu Darvish, who departed having thrown just 80 pitches because he felt tightness in his triceps area that he seems wholly unconcerned about but that Melvin wasn’t going to push.
“He’ll be fine for his next start,” Melvin said. “I just didn’t want him to have to go out there and pitch the seventh inning if I didn’t think he was 100 percent.”
The Padres also hope to not have to play any games without left fielder Juan Soto, who called for a pinch-runner after walking in the eighth inning. He had played through the pain of a ball fouled hard off his right foot in the fourth. Soto was walking mostly unfettered after the game.
Now is not a fine time to even be having to consider being short-handed. Not when seeming to have the upper hand has gone so poorly.
The Padres took a 1-0 lead Thursday on the first pitch of the game, which Tatis lined at 110.8 mph to the bleachers beyond left field. They broke a 1-1 tie on back-to-back doubles by Manny Machado and Soto in the fourth inning. They broke a 2-2 tie on Rougned Odor’s homer over the tall, right-field wall in the fifth inning.
Through all that, Darvish kept them in the game.
He wobbled early, absorbed a blow a bit later and then did what he does most of the time. He recovered and went deep into the game.
He walked in a run and needed 27 pitches to get through the first inning. He threw just 39 pitches the rest of the way, with the Twins’ second run coming on Kyle Farmer’s game-tying homer in the fourth.
Melvin went with Brent Honeywell in place of Darvish.
After a lineout to start the bottom of seventh, the bases were loaded in short order on Joey Gallo’s single, a fastball that hit No.9 batter Ryan Jeffers and a walk to leadoff batter Byron Buxton.
Honeywell almost got out of the jam on a grounder up the middle by Max Kepler that shortstop Xander Bogaerts fielded and tossed to Odor coming across the bag at second, but Odor’s throw to first was high and the game was tied.
Steven Wilson came on for Honeywell, with runners at the corners, and Carlos Correa grounded the second pitch he saw just inside the bag at third for a double that put the Twins up 5-3.
“We put way too much pressure on our pitching late in the game,” Melvin said.
It was surely not a coincidence that Melvin lost patience on a day the Padres fell to 8-8 in games in which their starting pitcher goes at least six innings and allows no more than three earned runs.
Nor was it surprising that it came on a day where there were continued positive signs that the most important cogs in the offense are getting going. While Bogaerts went 0-for-3 to prolong his slump, the other three members of the Padres’ reputedly fearsome foursome were a combined 5-for-10 with a homer and three doubles.
The problem remained that offense still remains so inconsistent and largely punchless in crucial moments.
The Padres were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Thursday and are batting an MLB-worst .203 in that situation this season.
They had just six hits in all. Twins starter Bailey Ober retired seven in a row between the first and third innings. Ober and Emilio Pagan combined to retire eight in a row between the fifth and seventh innings.
“I just don’t think there’s enough tenacity throughout the course of the game,” Melvin said. “We show signs of it. We show spurts of it. We come out like we should and then we don’t sustain it for the entire game. That’s the problem.”