SAN DIEGO – Initially, Noé Ramirez had the right idea. Facing Luke Voit with the game in abeyance on Saturday night, Ramirez kicked it off with a substitution under the area. Then he threw another change to the knees, then a curveball, then another change to the ankles. Lots of nonsense — that’s how the D-backs have kicked off Voit all season.
The Padres slugger sensed one of those changes and fouled out on the curve. Ramirez worked his way into a two-ball, two-strike tally, and that’s when the D-backs right-hander decided to try and pass a fastball past Sees at the top of the area. .
You just don’t dance fastballs 90 mph above the heart of the plate for dudes with biceps – and “chest lettuce” – like Luke Voit. When you do, they tend to end up a dozen rows deep in left field seats.
And so it was. Voit sprayed Ramirez’s fastball – 110 mph from the shot – for a three-run homer late in the sixth inning. It proved to be the decisive blow in the Padres’ 4-3 victory over the D-backs at Petco Park.
“They brought me in here to smash,” said Voit, who has dropped to a .219/.309/.404 slant line this season with 11 homers. “Unfortunately, I didn’t do that this year. But it’s good to feel like myself again.
When he touched home plate, Voit, after undoing an additional button or two, undid the top of his jersey. On the call, Padres TV play-by-play man Don Orsillo was in tune with the moment, proclaiming, “Luke Voit and his chest foam just left the building!”
This chest foam is a relatively new feature in Voit’s game.
“A few weeks ago I was like, ‘I have to change something,'” Voit said. “So I unbuttoned. It’s fun. It’s fun for the fans, and obviously the guys in the booth are having fun with it too. We’re show business. That’s what it’s all about. acts.
“And I have a good breast salad. I have to let go.”
This! Just there! It was the Luke Voit the Padres lacked, the self-assured puncher, crushing taters and maybe also showing off his chest lettuce a bit.
“He’s a middle power,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s something we’ve been missing all year, in terms of the game-changing three-run home run in a close game. And it came big. That’s what the guys in power do. They tend to eliminate some of them. And, the next thing you know, it’s an innings, and that’s three runs on the board.
The Padres have lacked that type of swing too often this season. They’ve built a roster with a deep pitching staff, a generally solid defense (although it’s struggled lately), and an offense that tends to reach the base. But they have terribly underperformed in the energy department.
San Diego’s 76 homers this season rank 25th in the Majors, and his .374 hitting percentage ranks 27th. The next month or so will be all about how the Padres can improve on those numbers.
“It’s no secret that we need to score even more points here in the second half, and that will be a priority for us over the next two weeks,” Padres president of baseball operations AJ Preller said Friday. . “Hoping most of the answers come from within, but if not, we’re also scouting and seeing what’s happening on the trade front.”
Preller is almost certain to add at least one bat by the deadline. With an acquisition or two, plus the impending return of Tatis, the Padres’ roster should look a lot different within a month.
But their roster is also different when they get this version of Voit, who spent his pregame Friday hitting the machine, as he worked to lower his stance and be a little less erratic with his swing.
“Something had to change,” Voit said. “It’s obviously the worst start to a season I’ve ever had, the worst first half of a season. I just feel like the ball didn’t carry as much for me. I feel like I have to go back at the drawing board. … Sometimes you just have to go back to work, try new things and try things. It works well.