The spiraling San Diego Padres blew an eighth inning lead against the Cardinals on Saturday night in St. Louis to fall 2 ½ games out of the final National League playoff spot (STL 3, SD 2). No less notable is that frustrations led to a dugout conflict between the team's two biggest stars, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado:
Here is video of the confrontation that includes some NSFW language. The conflict stemmed from Tatis' arguing balls and strikes after he struck out looking in the fifth. In an effort to spare Tatis from likely ejection by plate ump Phil Cuzzi, Padres manager Jayce Tingler was himself ejected. That seemed to spark the heated argument between Tatis and Machado, during which both players had to be separated. "It's not [expletive] about you," Machado can be heard yelling at one point.
Tensions within the roster are understandable given the Padres' recent struggles and tumble out of playoff position. With Saturday's key loss, San Diego has now lost seven of their last nine and has gone 5-10 in September and 23-32 in the second half. Once in the thick of the NL West race, the Padres effectively have no shot at the division title and have likewise seen their odds of winning the second wild card spot take a sustained hit. In that sense, the heated argument between Machado and Tatis was probably about more than just what happened in the fifth inning on Saturday night.
Speaking of the fifth inning, the Padres at that juncture still held a 2-0 lead. That lead would last until the eighth, when the Cardinals plated three -- two on another clutch home run off the bat of Tyler O'Neill. The Cardinals have now won seven straight and are a season-best nine games over .500. They lead the Reds by a pair of games in the chase for the second wild card berth, and they lead both the Reds and Padres by three games in the loss column.