Whatever else folks might say about the Padres, nobody can accuse them of quitting on themselves or their fans. As they have done all year, the Padres on Tuesday battled back after finding themselves in a precarious situation. They almost stole a victory despite falling behind 8-0 early and losing ace Jake Peavy to a fractured rib.
No, they didn’t win. But neither did they quit.
Condescension or Comprehension?
You will hear a lot of experts speak in condescending tones about the Padres because of their regular season record, the quality of play in the NL West, and whatever reason happens to be convenient. That shouldn’t be too surprising: condescension requires a good deal less effort than any genuine attempt at comprehension. It is much easier to dismiss the Padres with a sneer, a guffaw, a rolling of the eyes than it is to examine the situation and try to figure out whether the “obvious outcome” really is obvious.
With that in mind, one question we might consider is how the Game 2 starters have fared against the batters they are likely to face:
|Astacio vs current Cardinals||203||.335||.378||.581|
|Mulder vs current Padres||84||.393||.458||.571|
Neither starter has shown much of an ability to retire guys on the other team. For the Cardinals, Larry Walker (.500/.533/.846 in 26 AB) and Albert Pujols (.364/.333/1.182 in 11 AB) have posted silly numbers against Astacio. The only guy who hasn’t owned Astacio is Game 1 hero Reggie Sanders (.265/.315/.490 in 49 AB), and even he’s done reasonably well.
For the Padres, the sample is a lot smaller. Joe Randa (.375/.409/.625 in 40 AB) and Eric Young (.389/.500/.556 in 18 AB) are the only current Friars who have logged more than 10 at-bats against Mulder. Former top prospect Xavier Nady has faced Mulder three times and has two singles and a double. The Padres have been reluctant to give Nady much of a chance as a starter, but now might be a time to stick him in the lineup.
Battle of Bullpens?
If we are to believe these numbers ― and given the sample size against Mulder and the Padres’ Jekyll-and-Hyde offense, it’s hard to know what to believe ― we would be right to expect both teams to score some runs.
If that is the case, then the game could become a battle of the bullpens. Based on their respective showings in Game 1, such a battle would seem to favor the Padres (4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO on Tuesday, vs 3.0, 10, 5, 1, 3 for the Cardinals).
I Feel Fine, I Feel Happy
Here’s the thing about the Padres: They won’t die. You whack them on the back of the head, you think they are dead. Next thing you know, they want to go for a walk.
They’re stubborn that way.
The Punch Line
Nobody is giving the Padres a chance to win. Nobody really even wants the Padres to win. It’s bad for business, you know?
But here’s the crazy thing. If the Pads can hit Mulder as they have in the past and get to him early, and if Astacio can give his team even 5 solid innings (which he’s been able to do more often than not since coming over from Texas), they have a fighting chance. And assuming that the Padres are prepared to fight, that just might be enough.
Crazy, right? I think I’ll go for a walk now.