Sept. 27-- SAN FRANCISCO-The Padres played a game Sunday because it was on the schedule.
They won because that is what they did most often this season.
Their 5-4 victory over the Giants completed the most successful regular season in franchise history.
Their .617 winning percentage bettered that of the 1998 team's .606 mark before it went on to the World Series.
Certainly, there is an asterisk next to this squad's 37-23 record. But every team was in the same position in this COVID-shortened season, and the Padres finished with the second-best mark in the National League.
And now none of it matters.
The most important thing that happened Sunday was that the Padres found out they will host the Cardinals in the Wild Card Round, a best-of-three series that begins Wednesday and will be played entirely at Petco Park.
The Cardinals secured the fifth seed by completing a 5-2 victory over the Brewers about the time the Padres were completing the eighth inning at Oracle Park. The Padres' win also knocked the Giants (29-31) out of the playoffs and meant the Brewers (29-31) will play the Dodgers in the wild-card round.
This will be fourth time in six all-time playoff appearances that St. Louis is the Padres' first-round opponent.
While this means the Cardinals remain the only team the Padres have faced in the postseason in this millennium, the regionalized schedule this season means the teams have not met in 2020.
In a normal season, the teams would have played at least six times before meeting in the playoffs. That means they would have also prepared for them prior to two series.
Additionally, there has been no in-person scouting allowed this season. However, Padres scouts and other front office personnel have been watching the potential postseason foes on television for a while.
"It's going to be even," Padres manager Jayce Tingler said last week. "Whoever we play is going to have the same (challenge). They're not going have experience playing us. I feel like we're going to be able to prepare. ... We'll be able to get up to speed."
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