Every team goes through a bad patch. It seems ours goes through more than most. Not all losing streaks, or periods of mediocre play for that matter, are created equal. For instance, there can be streaks where the team is losing, but its due to maddening circumstances. A key error late in the game leads to a loss. A normally reliable relief pitcher coughs up the lead. The team gets to extra innings but loses a lot. Signs that even though they are losing, they are competitive.
Then there are those other games. You turn it off in the third because it’s already 7-1. Pitchers can’t find the strike zone. The team is oh-for-72, seemingly, with runners in scoring position. The team’s chances of overcoming a deficit are the same as finding a $100M lottery ticket in the street. Fans are resigned to losing once the team falls behind by any amount.
Where does this streak fit? Let’s take a look at their current 10-game losing streak, rating each game by a highly technical process and assigning grades of ‘never in it‘, ‘fought valiantly but lost‘, or ‘should have won‘.
Game 1 – MIA 7, SD 1: Marlins score 3 in the first and 3 in the fourth. Eric Stults doesn’t survive the fourth. Padres get a run in the fifth on a Nick Hundley double. Miami starter Jacob Turner goes the route, striking out seven.
Verdict: Never In It. Falling behind 3-0 after 1 is recoverable; falling behind 6-0 after 4 isn’t. Padres are 10-32 this season when trailing after 4 innings.
Game 2 – MIA 6, SD 2: Padres trail 2-0 after six, but tie it in the seventh thanks to a 2-run pinch-hit HR by Carlos Quentin. San Diego loses in the bottom of the ninth when Jeff Mathis hits his 36th career HR and first Grand Slam since 2008. Padres are 0 for 2 with runners in scoring position.
Verdict: Fought Valiantly But Lost. Many may place this in the ‘should have won’ column, and there is an argument to be made there. I decided against it because (a) both their RISP plate appearances came in the fourth inning, meaning they didn’t really threaten the rest of the game, and (b) after Quentin’s HR the Padres didn’t get another base runner. Actually this game could have been in the ‘never in it’ category too, but that’s a hard sell considering they tied it late.
Game 3 – MIA 4, SD 0. Lone Marlin All-Star Jose Fernandez throws a two-hitter for 8 innings, striking out 10. Jason Marquis has a no hitter for four innings and a shutout for five, but is undone by seven walks and a Pedro Ciriaco‘s error to start the sixth. The extra out comes back to haunt the Padres.
Verdict: Never In It. When you manage 3 baserunners through 8 innings it’s hard to say you were ever in it. Yes the Padres did show a little life in the ninth, but Kyle Blanks‘ tapper back to the mound killed that.
Game 4: BOS 4, SD 1. John Lackey hits 95 on the gun and limits the Padres to a Jesus Guzman HR over 8 innings. This season Guzman hitting a HR is equivalent to finding a horse head in bed next to you; nothing good will come of it. Padres are 0-5 when Guzman homers (H/T @CornfedFriar). The team’s best scoring chance came in the top of the fifth, with runners at first and third and nobody out, but they were unable to score.
Verdict: Never In It. If they had scored in that fifth inning this game would have qualified for fought valiantly, but they didn’t. And, Jesus Guzman homered.
Game 5: BOS 2, SD 1. At this point in the losing streak, the Padres have not led since their win on the 28th of June. That’s 36 innings of futility. Blanks singles home a run in the top of the first. Hello, lead! Volquez holds the lead until the fourth, and the bullpen matches the Red Sox zero for zero until the ninth.
Verdict: Fought Valiantly But Lost. Padres go 1 for 6 with RISP. The only other inning they threatened was the sixth, when they put the first two hitters on; a double play erased that. Asking this pitching staff to win 1-0 is almost impossible. The Padres haven’t done that since 19 July 13 against Houston (ironically enough, Volquez started that game). On this day the staff pitched its collective ass off.
Game 6: BOS 8, SD 2. Stults with another crappy outing. This time he’s out of the game in the fifth. San Diego trails 3-0 early and cuts the lead to 4-2 before Boston puts the game out of reach. Padres go 2 for 10 with RISP.
Verdict: Fought Valiantly But Lost. I need a category between this and fought valiantly. The Padres loaded the bases with no one out in the third, but got only one run. They had first and third, two out, and a run in during the fifth, but that was all they got. Boston eventually pulled away.
Game 7: WAS 8, SD 5. Andrew Cashner with the rare bad outing. Werth’s 11-pitch at bat resulting in a single was the key to this game. Hitting the pitcher later in the second inning didn’t help either. Quentin contributed a 3-R HR in the seventh to make it close, but like in Game 2, the Padres didn’t get another baserunner after that blast.
Verdict: Never In It. This is getting redundant.
Game 8: WAS 5, SD 4. The Padres trailed 3-0 early but forged ahead 4-3 thanks to Guzman’s 3-R HR. Marquis made it through six (QUALITY START!), but the bullpen couldn’t hold it. Joe Thatcher‘s wild pitch figured prominently in the scoring. San Diego had the winning run in scoring position with two out in the ninth, except Adam LaRoche speared Everth Cabrera‘s two-run single and turned it into a 3-1 ground out, ending the game.
Verdict: Should Have Won It. The first time during this streak we can say that. San Diego was a gawd-awful 1 for 14 with RISP.
Game 9: WAS 11, SD 7. Nationals explode for 6 in the third and end the drama. Padres close to within 4 twice, and even have the tying run on deck in the seventh, but got no closer. Rookie Robbie Erlin gets yanked for the second consecutive start around the fourth inning. Probably why he was optioned to Tucson yesterday.
Verdict: Never In It. Harsh. At least the Padres didn’t roll over, putting up 7 runs on the day. But, they were way behind early and never got within four. And, they were 1-12 with RISP.
Game 10: COL 4, SD 2. The first 5 Rockie hitters go walk/flyout/single/double/walk, good for 2 runs. Padres hit 4 line drive outs and don’t get a runner to third until the seventh. They do put the tying runs in scoring position in that seventh, and have the tying runs aboard in the ninth, but no joy.
Verdict: Fought Valiantly But Lost. The tying runs were on base twice. When your hopes for victory are reduced to an o for his last 19 Mark Kotsay, though, you’re in trouble.
During this streak to date, they’ve played 5 games where they were blown out, 4 where they fought but couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole, and one they realistically should have won. We’re in a ‘those other games’ streak at the moment.
It’s been bad. The team is 11 for 74 with RISP (.149). They have barely led at any point in any game over the last 2 weeks. Out of 90 full innings played, the Padres have led for only 4 and 2/3 (5%). Even with this charitable rating system there’s only one game they really should have won. They’ve been blown out of half the games during this streak.
The good news is they’ve not quit. Teams that quit don’t score 6 runs after being down 7-1. Teams that quit don’t hustle to beat out a slow roller to third. They’ve been so bad over the last two weeks they can’t help but get better. They play two other struggling teams during this last home stand before the All-Star Break. Although the NL West is wide-open this year, any team suffering through a 10-game losing streak has to look realistically at their chances.
Hope that this would be a retrospective post was dashed last night. Posting sporadically about the Padres since 2009. Prattling on about baseball since Noah built an Ark. Thanks to all of you crazy enough to follow me on Twitter.