The Padres are in the midst of a tough 12-game stretch, facing recent playoff teams Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Washington, and perennial pain-in-the-butt St Louis. They say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Yonder Alonso has definitely gotten going.
After posting an oh-fer in the first game of the Tampa series, Alonso has been scorching. Heading into last night’s action, he’d posted a .379/.367/.621 line, with 2 home runs over the previous 8 games. This hot stretch has helped raise his OPS+ to 123, second best on the team, and his wRC+ is 119, tied with Jedd Gyorko for second on the team (minimum 100 PA for both metrics).
Yonder won’t spend his career looking over his shoulder. We can do that for him. The Padres have Kyle Blanks on the roster, originally a first baseman. VM Nate had a great post yesterday on Blanks vs Alonso. In 2011 the club had Anthony Rizzo slotted to become the everyday first baseman, but traded him away that off-season. Many fans wish Rizzo had remained here, especially after the RF fences came in. Before that the Padres traded away Adrian Gonzalez due to fiscal constraints. That’s a lot of baggage hovering around the first base bag. Naturally Alonso’s peformance gets compared to those three players. Can Alonso measure up to them offensively? What about defensively?
It was bound to happen. He had been flirting with disaster all season. The law of averages finally caught up with him. On Saturday closer Huston Street blew his first save as a Padre. Making it especially galling, the winning rally began with two out and no one on base. Walk. Home Run. Boom. Thanks for playing.
I didn’t see the game, but I’m willing to bet Longoria hit a slider. Why? Because Street’s slider has been getting tattooed this year. Some graphical proof after the jump.
The Padres followed a 5-1 win on Sunday with a 5-0 win last night. Cashner and Thayer combined for the first Padres shutout of the season, and the first one thrown by San Diego’s pitching staff since Casey Kelly’s MLB debut on 27 August last year.
I was able to watch the last two games from the stands, so a couple of random thoughts on both games to start your Tuesday.
Apparently major leaguers are just like little leaguers sometimes. How else to explain Cabrera scoring from second on a pop up that landed less than 10 feet from home plate? Point: with two out, the runner goes on contact, and he’ll keep running until the final out is made. Counterpoint: major league players catch pop-ups on the infield 99% of the time. Quentin hit that ball sky high, but there was very little wind last night so the ball couldn’t have been moving around that much could it? The Marlins could be excused for buying a ticket and watching Brantly try to catch that thing.
Counter-counterpoint: Everth Cabrera loves to run. How else to explain his penchant for trying to swipe third? One would think his aggressive baserunning would have come up in team meetings. Many players would jog from second with two out in the inning on that pop-up, assuming the Marlins will make the play. Cabrera didn’t, and good for him. Running hard on contact led directly to the Padres first run.
Whose responsibility was it to cover home? Probably our old friend Wade LeBlanc’s. Polanco came down the line from third but he’s looking to help out on the pop-up. When the ball landed everyone’s first reaction was to try and figure out where Cabrera was. Everth was well down the line and by the time Miami found him, there was no play to be made. 1-0 Padres, on their way to that 5-0 win.
Three pitchers, one common theme.
Back in my youth, baseball was referred to as a game of inches. You don’t hear that much anymore, but it’s still true. On a pop up to second and a 415’ home run to LC the difference in where the ball strikes the bat is less than an inch top to bottom. A double can be indistinguishable from a foul ball except for those same few inches relative to the foul line.
Pitchers also are subjected to the game of inches, but oftentimes their success or failure comes down to a single pitch. Last night, Clayton Richard had a rough start. He battled for 5 2/3 innings, eventually surrendering 5 earned runs, the last of which scored after Anthony Bass (who relieved Richard) allowed a triple to Darwin Barney, scoring recent Padre Cody Ransom. Universally his effort was panned as a bad one, and perhaps deservedly so. He threw 93 pitches to get 17 outs, allowed 5 ER, got the loss. However, had he not surrendered the single to Ransom that gave Chicago back the lead, you know what his start would have been?
Last night Eric Stults hit a three-run homer to give the Padres an early lead. The lead didn’t last, as seemingly per usual, but the Padres did rally to win, which is not been the norm in 2013 and was a welcome change. Stults’ HR prompted a question – when was the last time a San Diego pitcher hit a 3-run jack? Thank goodness for Baseball Reference. Prior to Stults’ epic blast, five Padre pitchers had knocked in three with one swing. Two had ties to last night.
- Sean Bergman vs Reds, 6-12-96, third inning. This gave the Padres a 3-2 lead in a game they’d eventually lose 9-4.
- Calvin Schiraldi at Dodgers, 9-23-89, fourth inning. He hit this one off Fernando Valenzuela. Schiraldi, better known for his Game 6 pitching while with the Red Sox three years before, toiled for the Padres in 1990 as well before being released just prior to the start of the 1991 season.
Schiraldi got the win, Bergman did not figure in the decision. Bryce Florie took the loss in 1996. Rest of the list after the jump.
Ever wonder what Shirtless Ed Whitson referred to? Now you know. Thanks to Tom Garfinkel for sending that tonight.
I had several things to talk about concerning this game, but they don’t really matter. All anyone is going to remember is the fight between Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin.
Since their history seemed to be what provoked it tonight, here’s the history between them. Going into tonight, Quentin had faced Greinke 28 times. He was 6-24, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 4 K, and 2 HBP. All between 2008-2010, all while with the White Sox when Greinke pitched for KC.
The two hit by pitch events, in some context.
- First time in 2008 (7/18/08). At the point Q was 1-5 against Greinke, the one being a HR the first time he faced him. Q got hit with runners on the corners and one out, first pitch. Next AB Quentin hit a HR (same game).
- Second time was the following year (4/8/09), on a 1-1 pitch with the bases empty. Next AB Quentin walked (same game). It should be mentioned that Grienke went high and tight on Q the previous at bat (Q struck out swinging 3 innings earlier).
At this point, Quentin had faced Zack 13 times, hit 2 HR, been hit twice, been buzzed at least once. So you start to see why he might have developed an issue with Greinke – he’s seen 35 pitches from the guy and at least 3 have been around his head.
Carlos last faced Zack on 22 August 2010 when he singled to LC. That’s a long time to hold a grudge. Which brings us to tonight.
It’s nice to get back downtown for a little Padres baseball, even if the club limped into town after losing five of their first 6. Some thoughts on the 9-3 win over those Dodgers:
- Going into today Padre starters had thrown 28.1 innings over six starts, or barely 4 2/3 innings a start. Thank goodness yesterday was an off day to rest the bullpen. In 45 career starts at Petco, Clayton Richard has averaged 6 1/3 innings per start. So he’ll definitely get deep into this game, right? Nope. He throws 28 pitches in an agonizing first inning, followed by 17, 11, 18, and 24 over the next four and he’s out after five. Well at least he made it that far. Jason Marquis is the only Padre starter who’s thrown a pitch in the sixth inning this season.
- That said, ball 4 to Carl Crawford to start the game appeared to be a strike, and strike three to Matt Kemp appeared to be inside. The strike zone was a bone of contention all day, with Kemp, Cameron Maybin, and our old buddy Jerry Hairston Jr taking exception to called third strikes. Home Plate umpire Andy Fletcher is a 14 year veteran, for what it’s worth – not a newbie.
- Has Hairston Jr ever been called out on strikes without arguing the point?
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher (SSN-593).
While at sea conducting testing following an extended in port maintenance period, Thresher suffered a mechanical failure she was not able to recover from, and sank off the coast of Maine taking 129 men with her. It was – and remains – the worst peacetime disaster in the history of the US Submarine Force. This past weekend memorial services were held to mark the anniversary in Kittery, Maine, including raising a 129-foot tall flag pole.
When you rise to hear our National Anthem this afternoon, please take a moment to remember these men.
You can follow this former submarine sailor at @Padres_Trail.
Turns, out, later this week is today. Yesterday we looked at the worst Padres Opening Day starts. Let’s start today with a little optimism and look at the three best.
#3 – John Curtis, at San Francisco, 4.9.81, GS 76 - This is my favorite game of the six I’ve looked at over the past 2 days. Other than the 1969 Padres, the 1981 version was the worst team in franchise history, finishing 25 games under .500 in a strike shortened season. No one knew that on this day at Candlestick, and Curtis threw a gem. The Padres scored in the top of the first, when Gene Richards singled, stole second, moved to third on an Ozzie Smith foul out, and scored on a Vida Blue wild pitch. San Diego led 1-0 until the seventh, when Curtis gave up a two-out single to Larry Herndon. Herndon promptly stole second and scored on pinch-hitter Jim Wohlford’s single.
Life was different in 1981, so with the score tied at 1 after nine Curtis came out for the tenth and worked around a one-out single. Manager Frank Howard finally pinch-hit for him in the top of the eleventh. The game would go one more inning after that before Juan Bonilla broke the tie with a single, and Richards put the game away with a 2-run single. John Littlefield closed it out for the save. One more fun factoid: The game lasted 12 innings and was played in 3 hours six minutes. These days that’ll barely get you into the ninth. Padres won 4-1. Curtis’ final line: 10 IP, 7 H, 1 R (earned), 0 BB, 2K.
Well, the 2013 season got underway with a resounding thud. There’s really no other way to put it. By the time Jedd Gyorko got his first Major League hit the Padres trailed 7-1. Brad Brach surrendered a grand slam to close out the scoring. RJs Fro put it succinctly:
Our starter, Edinson Volquez, didn’t get an out in the fourth. He also walked his opposite number on four pitches, one of three walks he allowed, and gave up two doubles to go along with 4 singles and 4 strikeouts. Woe, Doctor! shared this interesting factoid:
There were 3 other games worse than yesterday’s? Research project!