SAN DIEGO (AP) Manny Machado thought he had called time as the pitch clock wound down to eight seconds. Plate umpire Ron Kulpa thought otherwise and called an automatic strike three to end the first inning.
The San Diego Padres' star slugger argued, said something that Kulpa didn't like and was ejected.
That was merely the biggest drama of the day for the Padres, who blew a four-run lead and lost 8-6 to the Arizona Diamondbacks after the bullpen melted down while trying to preserve Yu Darvish's decent season debut. José Herrera singled in the go-ahead run in the four-run eighth, when the Diamondbacks stole four bases and were aided by two errors. Josh Rojas scored the final run when he stole home as part of a double steal. Rojas had three hits and two RBIs.
Machado's ejection was the first related to the pitch clock.
Machado was adjusting his batting gloves and called time just before the the clock ticked from 8 seconds to 7 seconds. Batters must be facing the pitcher with eight seconds on the clock under new rules adopted for this season to speed the pace of play. They get one timeout per at-bat.
“I called it. As you can see, my hand was up at eight seconds,” Machado said. “I guess it wasn’t good enough to get awarded for it.”
Asked what he said before getting ejected, Machado said: “That’s between me and him.”
Manager Bob Melvin also argued with Kulpa as Machado, who was the designated hitter, was escorted toward the dugout by another umpire.
It was the 10th ejection of Machado’s big league career.
Machado committed the first pitch clock violation during spring training and shrugged it off after getting two hits that day.
This time it was far more serious.
“Obviously he said I called time too late, that I called it at seven seconds,” Machado said. “That's his opinion. I know what I saw and know what I felt. I knew I had enough time to call that timeout and I just didn’t get it. Obviously it’s about a feel thing and who’s behind the plate and who’s going to want to grant it to you. I'm just going to continue to do what the rules say.”
Said Melvin: "You're going to see some of that, and unfortunately it was strike three.
Nelson Cruz replaced Machado and homered to left leading off the fourth for a 2-0 lead, his first with the Padres.
Xander Bogaerts, who signed a $280 million, 11-year deal as a free agent in December, hit a two-run homer to left-center with two outs in the fifth, his third, for a 5-1 lead. Juan Soto was aboard on a one-out double.
The Diamondbacks began their comeback by scoring three runs with two outs in the sixth to pull to 5-4. Geraldo Perdomo hit a two-run double and Rojas an RBI single. Rojas' at-bat followed a walk by Jose Herrera, who was awarded an automatic ball on a pitch clock violation by Nabil Crismatt. Herrera ended up walking.
They took the lead in the eighth on three singles, a walk, four stolen bases and two errors.
“We're a good team, we're athletic and we're going to exploit things that we're supposed to," manager Torey Lovullo said.
Darvish, whose first start was pushed back due to Japan's run to the World Baseball Classic title, held the Diamondbacks to one run and three hits in five innings, but also walked four and hit two batters while striking out three.
Kevin Ginkel (1-0) got the win and Luis Garcia (0-1) the loss. Drey Jameson allowed Trent Grisham's homer in the ninth but earned his first save.
Arizona's Jake McCarthy made a spectacular running catch of Austin Nola's fly ball in foul territory just before tumbling over the low wall along the right field line to end the eighth. He was OK and stayed in the game.
“I had a pretty good read on it and the wall came up pretty quick,” McCarthy said. “The catch itself wasn't super difficult, but I didn't realize how close I was to the wall and obviously flipped over. Lucky I didn't get hurt. The concrete didn't feel great but I feel fine.”
Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., who has 14 games left on an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, was to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso on Tuesday night. He had surgery on his troublesome left shoulder a few weeks after the suspension was announced Aug. 12. He can be activated on April 20.
Diamondbacks: RHP Merrill Kelly (0-0, 0.00 ERA) is scheduled to start Arizona's home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.
Padres: LHP Blake Snell (0-1, 6.23) is scheduled to start Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series at Atlanta.
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