PHOENIX — Paul Clemens will go into the offseason knowing he will get a shot at making the San Diego Padres’ starting rotation in 2017.
His final month of the season helped make that a possibility, punctuated by Sunday’s six-inning, four-hit, seven-strikeout performance in the Padres’ 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Clemens, in the last game of the season, had his longest outing since going six innings in 2013 with Houston. He finished this season with a 0.83 earned run average in his last four starts.
“Just continue to work hard and execute pitches and everything else will take care of itself. Good team, great offense, a lot of pop, so, headed in the right direction,” Clemens said. “So it’s on me and the rest of the staff to go out and go six, seven and give up one, two runs and keep the team in the ball game. Give the team a chance every time I get the ball.”
Manager Andy Green liked what he saw from Clemens.
“He’s definitely in the mix going into spring training. He’s earned being right in the mix based on what he’s pitched the last three or four times out,” Green said.
Pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin’s RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Diamondbacks to the win.
Tuffy Gosewich doubled against the Padres’ Brad Hand (4-4) after two fly outs, then was replaced by pinch-runner Socrates Brito. Gosselin lined his winning hit up the middle to end the game.
The Diamondbacks finished 69 wins — 10 fewer than last season — in a year with higher expectations. They edged the Padres by a game in the NL West to avoid finishing in last place.
Daniel Hudson (3-2) earned the win.
“Brad’s had such a great year, it’s tough to see that happen to him,” Clemens said. “He’s got a rock-hard head, he’s bulletproof mentally so he’ll be fine. It’s tough. We know what the ultimate goal is and it wasn’t all predicated on winning today.”
The Padres thought they took the lead in the top of the ninth when Ryan Schimpf hit a fly ball that was originally called a home run down the right-field line. But after a video review, it was ruled a foul ball.
Brandon Drury’s two-out home run off Hand tied the score 2-2 in the eighth. Hand had worked scoreless relief in 61 of 81 games this season.
Luis Sardinas doubled home Austin Hedges, who’d doubled with one out, off Arizona reliever Steve Hathaway in the seventh. That gave the Padres a 2-1 lead.
Arizona had a chance to tie in the bottom of the seventh when Mitch Haniger singled and took second on a sacrifice. Pinch hitter Kyle Jensen lined a single to left that was dropped by Padres left fielder Alex Dickerson, but Haniger was being held up at third base and had to stay there.
Jean Segura, who entered the game batting .408 in his last 18 games, grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Drury came home on a force out in the third inning to give the Diamondbacks the early lead. The Padres tied it at 1 in the fourth on Hunter Renfroe’s two-out double to drive in Wil Myers.
Matt Koch, making his second career major league start, allowed a run and five hits in six innings, striking out three without a walk for the Diamondbacks.
“It was something we talked about on Friday. We have a chance to move in front of these guys,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said. “Let’s see if we can do it. We did it. Mission accomplished.”
SEGURA HOPES FOR WBC CALL
Segura ended up with a .319 batting average and became the first Arizona player to lead the NL in hits with 203 this season. Asked if he’d be welcome the chance to play for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic next March, Segura smiled.
“If they invite me, I’m going to because it’s a great experience representing your country,” Segura said. “You don’t know where you’re going to be in four more years. Life is so short, you don’t know when you go. So you have to take the opportunity to play today. To be a part of that is a privilege, it’s an honor.”
Before the third inning began, the Diamondbacks paid tribute to Padres broadcaster Dick Enberg, who called his last game on Sunday. Enberg has won 14 Emmys and nine Sportscaster of the Year awards, among many other honors, over his long career calling baseball and other sports. He acknowledged the crowd of 31,385 with a wave and fist pump as fans cheered and applauded.