SAN DIEGO — It appears Petco Park is going to have a hard time holding Hunter Renfroe.
The rookie hit his first career grand slam and also had a three-run shot to drive in all the runs for the San Diego Padres in their 7-1 victory against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
The Dodgers fell two games behind the NL East champion Washington Nationals for home-field advantage in their Division Series matchup.
Renfroe says he’s felt comfortable at the big downtown ballyard since his first big league plate appearance Wednesday night, when he was intentionally walked.
Since then he’s hit three impressive home runs, including his first one off San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner on Friday night.
“I’m very comfortable,” said Renfroe, San Diego’s first-round pick in the 2013 draft and this year’s Pacific Coast League MVP.
He hit a high, arcing three-run homer to left field off Kenta Maeda with two outs in the first inning. Renfroe’s grand slam to straightaway center came on a full-count pitch from Louis Coleman with two outs in the eighth. Renfroe has three homers in six games.
Padres manager Andy Green said Renfroe’s grand slam, which came on a fastball after he fouled off several sliders, “was about as hard as I’ve seen a baseball hit all year.
“Hunter Renfroe is going to be a dynamic player at this level when he stays in the strike zone,” Green said. “There’s really no other message for him or about him. He can hit anything. He just has to get him over the plate. When he does that, it’s as much damage as anybody would have.”
Renfroe’s seven RBIs were one shy of the team record.
The rookie said he’s keeping things in perspective.
“One of the big things is you can’t think of it as more than what it is,” he said. “It’s a game. You’ve been playing it since you’re 4 years old or what have you. You can’t think of it more than that. It’s just on a bigger stage and more fans and everything is kind of magnified. You can’t think too much in it. You can’t be afraid to fail.”
Dodgers rookie manager Dave Roberts was on the Padres staff the last several years, so he knows about Renfroe
“He’s got big power,” Roberts said. “We left some balls out over the plate and elevated to him, and do that with a power hitter and that can happen. He had a big day.”
Maeda had faced the Padres three times earlier this year, but they have a lot of new players since his last start against San Diego on July 10.
“It wasn’t miscommunication as much as it was facing these new hitters and I wasn’t familiar with them,” he said through a translator.
Maeda (16-10), who beat the Padres 7-0 at Petco Park in his big league debut on April 6, had his start moved up one day so he’ll get another one before the playoffs begin.
Paul Clemens (4-5) held the Dodgers to one run and three hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked one.
Chase Utley homered for the Dodgers in the third, his 13th.
Some Padres fans were surprised when a spokesman for the San Diego Chargers was interviewed on the Fox Sports San Diego broadcast early in the game. Fox executive Henry Ford said the Chargers spokesman, Fred Maas, was a guest of the network. “His appearance in no way reflects a position or endorsement by the Padres, nor FOX Sports,” Ford said in an email. “Padres management was not given advance notice of his appearance, and we apologize for any confusion this may have caused.” While the Padres have said they want to see the Chargers stay in San Diego, they say they haven’t been given adequate answers to several questions about how a new downtown stadium would affect Petco Park. The Chargers will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a hotel tax increase to help pay for a new stadium and convention center annex that would be close to Petco Park.
Dodgers: 1B Adrian Gonzalez left the game with a sinus infection. Roberts said he doesn’t think it’s serious.
Dodgers: Rookie RHP Jose De Leon (2-0, 5.52 ERA) had his start pushed back from Tuesday to Wednesday. He beat the Padres 7-4 in his major league debut on Sept. 4 at Dodger Stadium.
Padres: Rookie RHP Luis Perdomo (8-10, 5.59) is scheduled to make his 20th start for the Padres.