SAN DIEGO – Fernando Tatis Jr. had been waiting for a breakout game, and boy did “El Niño” get it.
The 21-year-old budding superstar, who grew up in the game at the feet of his big league father, hit two home runs and drove in five to boost the San Diego Padres to an electrifying 11-9 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night that forced a deciding Game 3 in their NL wild-card series.
Wil Myers also homered twice and Manny Machado connected, but Tatis — with his signature exuberance and flair — was the one who carried the party at empty Petco Park.
With his blond dreadlocks bouncing around his helmet, Tatis danced down the first base line and gestured animatedly toward his teammates after igniting the comeback by lining a three-run home run into the left-field seats in the sixth inning. Machado followed with a solo shot to tie the game at 6.
Four batters after Myers opened the seventh with a solo shot for a 7-6 lead, Tatis was more dramatic after his a two-run drive into the home run deck in right. Tatis flipped his bat, turned and glared at his teammates before beginning his trot and then gave several leaping high-fives after touching the plate.
Tatis and Myers are the second teammates in postseason history with multiple homers in the same game, joining Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees on Oct. 1, 1932 in Game 3 of the World Series — including Ruth’s famed “called shot.”
The Padres are the first team in postseason history with five home runs from the sixth inning onward in a game.
It was the 23rd comeback win of 2020 for the close-knit Padres, who have pushed each other all year.