I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

If Tuesday night’s opener provides any indication, this series in Los Angeles is going to be tough. Sure, the final score was 9-4, but the Dodgers just would not go away. The Padres even had to get Trevor Hoffman up and warming at the end.

Jake Gets It Done

Jake Peavy came back strong after last week’s disastrous start in Phoenix. He served up a two-out solo homer to James Loney in the third, and worked out of a couple tough jams.

In the second, with a 4-0 lead, Peavy allowed a leadoff single to Jeff Kent. Then, after jumping ahead in the count, 0-2, Peavy walked nemesis Luis Gonzalez on seven pitches. After a Russell Martin groundout to first moved runners to second and third, Peavy got Andre Ethier to chase a 93-mph fastball up at shoulder level for the second out. This was the key at-bat of the inning, as it allowed Peavy to intentionally walk Nomar Garciaparra and attack pitcher Esteban Loaiza, who proceeded to strike out on four pitches.

Later, in the sixth, Peavy found himself in trouble again. Juan Pierre (the worst offensive center fielder in baseball this season) led off with a double to left. Brady Clark, in for defensive purposes, made a fine play on the ball and almost nailed Pierre at second. Clark probably had a better chance than Josh Bard would have if Pierre had settled for a single and then attempted to steal, so no big deal. Loney then whacked an 0-2 fastball over the head of second baseman Geoff Blum. The ball was hit so hard that Pierre had to hold at third. No matter. Kent followed with a single to right that plated Pierre and made the score 6-2.

If we give Peavy credit for getting himself out of the mess he’d created (and we should), then we need to give the assist to pitching coach Darren Balsley. After Kent’s single, Balsley came out to chat with his young right-hander and give Doug Brocail a chance to get loose. Peavy then paid Balsley the finest compliment possible, getting Gonzalez to fly out to left and Martin to ground into an inning-ending 5-3 double play.

The Hits Keep Coming

Offense? Yeah, a little. It helped that Loaiza wouldn’t throw strikes, but the Padres still had to take advantage of the situation, and they did.

Loaiza needed 50 pitches to get through the first two innings. He gave up four runs in the process, and it might have been worse had Adrian Gonzalez been watching third-base coach Glenn Hoffman give the stop sign on a run-scoring single off the bat of Kevin Kouzmanoff instead of looking back at right fielder Matt Kemp. Still, the Padres took an early lead and made Loaiza work very hard in the process.

And how about four home runs? The first, a two-run shot off the bat of Brian Giles in the second, came on a 3-0 count. Giles reacted out of the box as if he’d hit a routine fly ball — a side effect of playing half his games at Petco Park, no doubt.

In the third inning, Khalil Greene and Kouzmanoff went back-to-back. Greene’s 21st homer of the season came on an 0-1 thigh-high breaking ball and ended up in the left-field bleachers. As for Kouzmanoff’s blast, I don’t even know where to begin. He hit a 1-2 pitch on the outer half and drove it to dead center. Off the bat, I didn’t think it had a chance but the ball just kept carrying and left yard. I’ve seen Kouz hit several of those rockets to center this year, and yet it still surprises me. I think maybe his easy swing fools me into thinking he didn’t get all of the pitch.

I also have to give props to Blum for a terrific game. Two walks, a homer into the second deck, and a fine defensive play to get Heath Bell out of a tight spot — that’ll work. Blum gets a lot of grief from us, and I think for good reason, but it’s important to remember that he’s just trying to do the job asked of him. No, he’s not a starting second baseman, but he’s what we’ve got.

The only real negatives were Gonzalez’ mental errors (in addition to the baserunning gaffe, he also let a Garciaparra pop foul drop between himself and Bard to lead off the fifth) and some sloppy bullpen work. Kevin Cameron and Brett Tomko aren’t high-leverage relievers, but it would have been nice if they could’ve kept Bell from having to work the eighth and Hoffman from having to waste a few warmup pitches in the ninth.

Yes, we’re nitpicking. The Padres got a much-needed win, and right now, that’s all that matters.

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

You will not see me forget about 9/11. A huge “thank you” to all of you who serve or have served in our armed forces!

AA

San Antonio 6, Springfield 2 (San Antonio leads series, 1-0)

Matt Antonelli: 3 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 2 BB, SB
Chase Headley: 1 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; HR, 4 BB
Joshua Geer: 7.0 IP 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR

High-A

Lake Elsinore 14, Lancaster 7 (Lake Elsinore wins series 3-1)

Sean Kazmar: 4 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 RBI; BB
David Freese: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 3 RBI, SO
Kyle Blanks: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 2 2B, SO
Mike Baxter: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 3 RBI; HR, SO
Jose Lobaton: 4 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 1 RBI; 2B, BB
Cory Luebke: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR
R.J. Rodriguez: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR

Commentary:

Somehow I missed it… On Sunday I said the Storm went up 1 game to none, then on Monday they went up 2-0… Somehow I missed Saturday’s contest where the Storm lost the first game of the series (Lancaster 3, Lake Elsinore 2)… Sorry.

Kyle Blanks now has three home runs and two doubles in seven playoff games (not exactly Reggie Jackson circa ’77, but still impressive).

On June 8, I wrote the following: “[Corey] Luebke was a bit of a reach [in the supplemental round], but at worst he’s a valuable organizational soldier…” Tuesday night, that “soldier” started and won a series-deciding game in his third level (and first year) of professional baseball.

Um, I was wrong. Luebke has quickly become one of my favorite Padre pitchers.

Thanks, Peter. Game 2 at Chavez Ravine on Wednesday starts at 7:10 p.m. PT. Be here, yo…

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29 Responses »

  1. Nice to see all of our teams raking right now. It astounds me how woeful our offense can be without Milton, so last nite was a good reminder to the Padres that they tore it up in May without Milty.

    Also, not sure how many people have heard this, but Lowe injured his hand yesterday in warm-ups. He’s still tentatively scheduled to start, but they might move up Billingsley to pitch tonite instead (he’d be pitching on normal rest, due to Monday’s off-day).

    Kouz, though impresssive, still looks like he could become an absolute monster at the plate. He rarely doesn’t tag the baseball, and as a result, when he does hit a flare, it tends to drop in since OF have to play him so deep.

    According to the UT this morning, MB is out another 3 – 4 days, which means, realistically, he’s probably done until at least next weekend (it’s gonna be “a few more days every” couple of days, I think). I hope the boys can continue to swing the bats well and take this series from the Dodgers. Our magic number for the WC is 17 (combo of Padres wins and Philly losses).

  2. Nothing like a bitch slapping of the dodgers to make me feel all warm and tingly about Padres baseball again.

  3. Love owning the Dodgers.

    Hate not having internet to watch the ownage on.

  4. That game showed us both why the Padres are in playoff contention and why they have not solidified their slot. Good offense, Jake being Jake but a few plays go the other way, and the Dodgers were right back in it. And some shaky, non-Bell bullpen. But we HAD to win that game. We lose the Peavy-Loaiza match up, we’re in a big place of hurt.

    We have a much tougher match up tonight, but I have an odd feeling (delusional?) that Germano will have his good stuff and that Lowe will not have his “no runs for you, Padres” stuff. Then again, I felt good about Hensley snapping out of his doldrums, so what do I know? Not much.

    This is a day at a time. Love that the Giants held off the DBacks, handing them a rare 1 run loss.

    No one commented on it last night, but I thought the ump was calling a very tight zone. I have not done my tedious review of called balls and strikes on Gameday, but it was mostly even but tight. That favored us. Loaiza is more of a finesse guy, who has to live on the corners. Jake likes the corners, but if he needs to, he has good enough stuff to say “Here, hit this” and win most of those.

    But major, major props to our AB’s, being patient. We could have easily swung ourselves out of a bunch of runs had we not been. I do think Joyner’s approach is helping.

    We talked about Blum’s great game, how about KG? Yes, the HR, but he took a walk, and hit a deep sac fly to right-center. Being more patient, using all fields, LOVE IT.

  5. Beginning to think Az would never loose again. Status quo, we win the WC play NYM. Play well, and Az cools off, third NLW title. Lot of ifs, but we are in a better place then the Dodgers.

  6. Comments from Milty on padres.com

  7. Dodger blogger is pretty glum about the dogs, from the GM on down.
    http://6-4-2.blogspot.com/
    Luckily, he also blogs the Angels who are a nice team.

  8. Nice A-Team reference Jeff. 80′s TV ftw.

  9. Sorry, Goff. Geoff. ;)

  10. Re: worst CF in baseball…

    In one of the latter innings, Pierre ran down a moderately difficult line/fly to a gap – I honestly wondered if Pierre (one of the faster players in baseball) would get there… However, if the ball is hit in front of him, he gives up on balls that end up landing 5′ in front of him… He is AWFUL and I LOVE that the Dodgers are on the hook for $55m… Oops.

  11. 10: I believe the ball you’re referring to was Khalil’s liner to the gap. I thought it would fall (especially given Pierre) but it hung up there. Juan Pierre is the perfect example of why stats such as batting average are mis-leading and have been devalued. Totally agree that it’s awesome that LA will be on the hook for that deal for a long time.

  12. Thankfully the Dodgers aren’t smart enough to sign someone like Carlos Lee even though he was over priced and play Kemp in CF. That farm system isn’t worth nearly as much if you waste prospects….what they heck are they doing with LaRoche?

  13. 12: LaRoche has looked terrible since his call-up. I remember he appeared in one of the last games at Petco a few weeks ago, and he looked completely lost at the plate.

  14. 12: So did Matt Kemp at times. I can recall people on Dodger Thoughts doubting earlier this year whether Gonzo should sit for him.

  15. 13: LaRoche is way better than Nomar. I am thrilled that they keep playing Nomar and leave LaRoche on the bench. LaRoche hit .309/.399/.589 at AAA this year.

  16. 15: Agreed. LaRoche is a good hitter and Garciaparra isn’t. Play Nomah!

  17. I was thrilled when they re-signed Nomar (for 1B) and kept Loney in the minors…

  18. What is the deal for tonight? Is Lowe still starting? Which Germano is gonna show up?

  19. OT: I’m playing around with a widget that embeds my del.icio.us bookmarks into the sidebar. Right now I’ve got it set to display the 10 most recent (headline and link only, no comments). Let me know what you think…

  20. 18: Pretty sure Lowe is starting.

  21. #18: Looks like Chad Billingsley will start for LA:

    http://insidethedodgers.mlblogs.com/my_weblog/2007/09/high_quality_st.html

    [Hat tip to Dodger Thoughts.]

  22. Billingsley-Germano matchups have not been kind to us this year.

  23. 22: Hopefully we’ll have some decent success provided we don’t run our split squad line-up against him.

  24. 23 … bingo … that’s a concept to latch on to … “bud black’s split squad lineup” … i wish that spelled out a funny acronym … it’s amazing how many of BBSSL’s we’ve seen this year … like he punts a game … especially game 3 of a series where the padres have won games 1 & 2 …

  25. Is Sledge starting tonight ? I know, I know…..he’s a good hitter against righties.

  26. Same lineup as last night except Barrett is catching instead of Bard and has moved ahead of Sledge (batting 8th).

  27. I like the match up for tomorrow now, very much… Maddux vs. Wells. I think we have the advantage there.

    Lowe has beaten us so enough and Billingsley is due for a let down against us. Of course, Jake was due for a let down against them, but still…

  28. Aaaaargh! Those are the kind of missed opportunities that can cause chair-kicking injuries for managers later…