Rewind: Bobby Jones Shuts Down Dodgers

Thirteen years ago today, the Padres beat the Dodgers, 8-0, at Qualcomm Stadium. The victory improved San Diego’s record to 43-58 and pulled them to within 4 ½ games of the fourth-place Colorado Rockies. It was epic.

Also epic: Bobby Jones. The Padres employed two pitchers with that name. This is the right-hander from Fresno, not the left-hander from New Jersey (though they sometimes pitched in the same game).

Jones spent 10 years in the big leagues, his final two with the Padres. He went 15-27 with a 5.26 ERA in two seasons here. Opponents hit .303/.334/.511 against Jones, who led the National League in losses (19) and home runs allowed (37) in 2001.

What I’m trying to say is that he had trouble getting guys out, which is probably why he stopped pitching after his stint in San Diego. But he had a nice run as the precursor to Joe Blanton and even made the NL All-Star team in 1997. Hell, he one-hit the Giants in the 2000 NLDS.

Jones wasn’t very good by the time he came to the Padres. But on a warm Wednesday in July, he dominated a Dodgers team that would go on to win 92 games.

They missed the playoffs, but drafted Russell Martin, James Loney, Jonathan Broxton, and old friend Eric Stults. True story: Their 17th-round pick that year (Martin) has produced more rWAR (32) than the Padres’ entire draft classes of 2002, 2003, and 2004 combined (21). Good thing the Dodgers’ scouting director, Logan White, now works for the Padres.

Future-former-Padres interim manager Dave Roberts led off with a bunt single but never advanced. Possible future-Padres actual manager Mark Kotsay answered in the home half with a double to right-center off southpaw Kazuhisa Ishii but was likewise left there.

The two teams traded zeroes again in the second. Then in the third, Ishii walked Julius Matos on four pitches, then allowed singles to Phil Nevin and Ron Gant to plate the first run. This leads to two obvious questions:

  1. Who was Julius Matos?
  2. Why was he batting second?

Answers:

  1. An infielder who hit .244/.278/.310 over parts of two seasons.
  2. Because Bruce Bochy. (That joke worked a lot better before he’d won three World Series.)

Kotsay drilled a two-out solo homer against Ishii in the fourth to make it 2-0. Jones, meanwhile, kept getting guys out despite his general inability to do so. He scattered the occasional single–Brian Jordan in the fourth, Alex Cora in the sixth, Jordan again in the seventh, Chad Kreueter in the eighth–but he rather prudishly didn’t allow anyone to reach second base.

Jones also sparked his own team’s offense in the seventh, leading off with a single to left. After Kotsay popped to shortstop, Ishii was replaced by Guillermo Mota, who walked Matos (!) and surrendered a three-run homer to Nevin. After Ryan Klesko drew a walk, Gant knocked a two-run blast to make the score 7-0.

Mota was a pretty good pitcher who had a miserable day:

  • Game: 0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 0 K
  • Career vs. Padres: 64.1 IP, 44 H, 6 HR, 26 BB, 61 K, 3.22 ERA, .194/.275/.313

The Padres tacked on a final run in the eighth against Terry “Ole” Mulholland, but by then everyone had presumably lost interest. Jones’ final line: 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 4 K.

That would be the last time Jones ever pitched effectively in the big leagues. He made four more starts and one relief appearance, then was done. His numbers in those final five games are staggering: 22 IP, 40 H, 8 HR, 3 BB, 18 K, 10.23 ERA. Opponents hit .377/.391/.726 against him.

But for one shining moment, Jones dominated the Dodgers. In a microcosm of those 1999-2003 Padres, his unexpected masterpiece provided a refreshing if brief respite from the unrelenting pain of being a fan in those days. Ah, such fond memories.

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