Game Reflections – Opening Day

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?

– The Padres couldn’t sign most of the free agents they pursued but they were able to sign two more dancing groundskeepers, so there’s that.

– Nick Hundley had a play at third on Josh Beckett’s sac bunt in the fourth inning, but he elected to go to first.  No harm done, as Crawford rolled out to second to end the inning.

– More Crawford:  welcome to the National League buddy.  Clayton Richard has a phenomenal pick-off move, and that’s what it looks like.

Jose Juan Uribe goes down in history as the first player to homer over the new wall and short of the old one.  His HR that tied the game measured at 364 feet, which is the listed distance to that spot on the wall.  Both the Padres home runs would have been out even if the dimensions hadn’t changed.  The new wall did take all the suspense out of Venable’s drive in the first; there was no doubt that ball was leaving.

– Carlos Quentin was called out on batter interference in the third, for lingering in the batters box after hitting a foul pop-up behind home plate.  This was a questionable call that Bud Black briefly argued. From my vantage point, it didn’t appear AJ Ellis had any idea where that ball was after Quentin hit it, and his circuitous route to the ball made it appear Quentin stood in his way deliberately.   My buddy Tyler wondered if the umpire expected Quentin to catch the ball for Ellis.

– In the bottom of the fifth the info-graphic for Quentin stated he was Freshman of the Year at Stanford from 2001-2003.  2001-2003?  That has to be a typo, right?

– Everth Cabrera was caught stealing in the fifth.  Live, the ball beat him to the bag and he looked out.  On replay it appeared he might have beaten the throw.  Cabrera briefly talked to the second base umpire (Sam Holbrook) before the start of the seventh inning.  We can speculate he was asking about that play.

– Leading by a run in the seventh, and with a runner on third and two out, Black elected to lift Andrew Cashner in favor of Joe Thatcher to face Adrian Gonzalez.  Adrian lined a 1-0 pitch for a single to LF and tied the game.  Just for the hell of it, here are some numbers:

  • Cashner career against lefties:  .234/.318/.354, tOPS+ of 89.  Adrian is 1-3 career against him, the ‘1’ being a single.
  • Thatcher career vs lefties:  .207/.273/.335, tOPS+ of 84.  Adrian had one career PA against him, and he lifted a sac fly to drive in a run.

I’m not second-guessing the lefty/lefty matchup just because Adrian knocked the run in.  I was curious how the two relievers compared though.

– Geoff had a great post on Friday about having your #2 hitter bunt.  In the bottom of the eighth today the first two Padres reach via walk, LA makes a pitching change, and Black signals for Maybin to sacrifice.  It was 4-3 at the time, and I understand the desire to want to add another run to the lead.  But don’t you want to be aggressive there and go for the throat?  The Padres already had the lead, and the Dodgers would only have 3 outs in which to tie the game. Plus, San Diego already had a runner in scoring position.  Seemed like an overly conservative move.

Maybin came into the game hitting .059 (after one hit in three trips today, he’s improved to .100) and Hundley came in hitting .133 (he’s now up to .167 after his solo shot).  Maybe that’s why Black ordered it.

After the bunt and a fielder’s choice, the Padres had runners on the corners and two out, and the opportunity was in real danger of being wasted.  Chris Denorfia – who through six games has been the team’s best hitter – knocked in the run with a single to RF.  Thankfully the Padres were able to pile on after that, highlighted by Venable’s bases-clearing triple.

All in all a good win for the Padres.  It’s nice to put that road trip in the rear view mirror.  Here’s another view from the Ultimate Skybox overlooking Petco:


UPDATE:  I forgot to talk about Eric Stults pinch-hitting in the sixth inning.  Having a pitcher pinch-hit for, well, anyone is a bit odd, especially when it’s the first offensive substitution of the game.  However, Black’s done this sort of thing before.   In fact, he did it three times last year.  Most recently Jeff Suppan pinch-hit for Stults on 24 May 12 in New York; the Padres were up 6-1 at the time.  The other two occasions: Richard singled and scored the winning run in the 13th inning against Anaheim on 20 May, and Suppan pinch-hit again, for Tim Stauffer this time, on 14 May in Washington (Padres were up 5-4 in that one).  So it’s unusual, but not so odd.

Game Reflections will appear sporadically, mostly after those games I’m able to attend; I report which games I’m at via my twitter feed, @Padres_Trail.

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