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.
I think sometimes Black gets bored. He wants to challenge his guys in new ways. Last night he put Quentin and Blanks in the same outfield. Can you imagine that conversation with Cashner before the game?
Black: “Andrew I know you’re coming off a tough start in Chicago, but you’re facing a team with maybe two major league quality hitters in their lineup tonight. I’m putting Blanks in RF.”
Champion Deer Dresser Andrew Cashner: “C’mon skip! I’ve enough to worry about just trying to throw the ball over the plate.”
Black: “Don’t bitch. Wait until Wednesday when I start Alonso at second and Guzman at third. Heh heh heh.”
The Marlins first hit was just out of Blanks’ reach, although I doubt either Norf or Venable catch that ball. Black left all three in place until Quentin reached in the bottom of the seventh on a fielder’s choice, after which he was pulled for a pinch-runner. For the top of the eighth he juggled his whole outfield. Amarista stayed in to play CF, with Norf moving to RF and Blanks to LF. Two hitters into the inning he brought Venable on to play RF as part of a double switch and moved Norf to LF.
He moved his whole OF around in a similar manner on Sunday, again bringing Amarista in to play CF and moving Norf/Venable to LF/RF, respectively, for the ninth inning. Moving all three men around is only unusual because we don’t typically see wholesale changes like that, even in a blowout. One, maybe two guys sure. All three? Not the norm, but certainly not wrong. With Maybin on the shelf that final arrangement is the Padres best defensive outfield. It’s always a good idea to get your best defenders on the field late in the game, regardless of the score.*
So the Padres have won 9 of 12. They are within 4 games of .500 and no longer sit in the NL West basement. Craig Elsten tells us they have the best ML record in SoCal, something many didn’t think possible just 10 days ago. Since Ron Fowler told the newsmedia he was working on a franchise record extension offer for Headley, the All-Star third baseman is hitting over .380. And Jedd Gyorko has homered on back-to-back nights. Neither one was cheap, either.
The better news is the Padres haven’t done all this against the Marlins and Astros. They swept San Francisco and took 2 of 3 from Arizona. They have momentum at the moment. They’ll need it, because the schedule gets pretty hard once Miami leaves town. They probably won’t continue winning at this pace against the Rays/Orioles/Nationals/Cardinals. Although if Cabrera can score from second on a dropped pop-up close to home plate, anything can happen.
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*This section was written knowing full well Black’s right-handed hitting outfield options were only Blanks and Guzman.