We caught the tail end of Padres batting practice. Dave Roberts was pitching. Andrew Cashner and Cameron Maybin chatted with fans. Maybin, who would later make a ridiculous catch in right-center during the game to rob Junior Lake of extra bases, looks like he’s having fun even in warmups.
Then the Cubs batted. Lake and Mike Olt put on serious power displays. Former Padres first baseman Anthony Rizzo worked on hitting the ball to left field, then took some grounders at shortstop for fun. Manager Rick Renteria got a nice round of applause from those who remember his days as a Padres coach and perhaps even as skipper of the Lake Elsinore Storm.
Food: Tri-tip sandwich. Drink: Alesemith Speedway Stout, served on tap at Ryan Bros. Coffee stand. That a 12% ABV beer is poured at Petco Park borders on irresponsible, but I’m not complaining.
The pregame honoring of first responders to the recent fires in San Diego was a nice touch. So were the 1984 replica jersey giveaways, even though I ended up with Steve Garvey.
The game itself? More of the usual. No offense, save for a Carlos Quentin pinch-homer in his first home plate appearance of 2014.
Billy Buckner started for the Padres and did his best Jeff Suppan impression, throwing a bunch of junk that fooled guys for a while. In the sixth, the Cubs realized they could beat the snot out of him and started doing just that.
The pisser is that Buckner almost didn’t see the sixth. Quentin was waiting in the on-deck circle when Yasmani Grandal struck out looking to end the fifth.
In that sixth, Luis Valbuena hooked a Buckner offering down the right-field line to extend the visitors’ lead to 2-0. Then with two out and a man on second, he intentionally walked Darwin Barney (whose 514 OPS would look right at home in the heart of the Padres lineup) to get to Travis Wood, a very good hitting pitcher. I was uncomfortable with this move at the time, and even more so after Wood lined a single to left that made the score 3-0 and ended Buckner’s night, albeit after the horses had escaped.
Quentin finally batted in the eighth, after a Grandal walk, and crushed a baseball to left field. I had someone suggest to me the other day that the Padres should dump Quentin. I asked who would replace him on the roster.
Jeff Francoeur. Yes, the guy who has had to go on a tear to get his numbers up to .250/.275/.422 in a league that hits .272/.343/.421.
The problem is that Francoeur doesn’t crush baseballs the way Quentin does. In fact, with all due respect to Seth Smith and his torrid start, nobody on the Padres does. That’s why you put up with all the injuries. Also, he has a full no-trade clause in his contract.
Anyway, with the Padres still down a run, they had their 3-4-5 hitters up in the ninth. Here is what they did against Hector Rondon:
- Chris Denorfia – First-pitch groundout to shortstop
- Chase Headley – First-pitch lineout to first base; in Headley’s defense, he smoked the pitch and was robbed of extra bases thanks to a leaping grab by Rizzo
- Seth Smith – Groundout to shortstop on an 0-1 pitch
They saw four pitches. Four, as in, what the… seriously, four?
The incompetence would be hilarious if it were happening to someone else. As Mel Brooks once never quite actually said, “Comedy is when your team can’t hit its way out of a wet paper bag. Tragedy is when my team is the Padres.”
But the company was good. And the beer was good. And we still get to live in San Diego.