Howlin’ Wolf and Friends Take the Fifth

Randy Wolf‘s final line looks fantastic, and he pitched a beautiful game, but it didn’t seem dominant while I was watching. The Rockies hitters probably have a different opinion.

Because my job is to pick nits, I found myself wondering why Wolf needed to throw so many pitches. He walked four and fanned nine, which explains some of it, but he also had a couple of plate appearances last a bit longer than they should have.

Wolf jumped ahead of Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe, 0-2, to start the second inning before issuing a walk. Then in the fourth, Wolf got to the same count against left fielder Matt Holliday, who eventually struck out swinging, but not until the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

As I said, I’m nitpicking. Hawpe and Holliday are great hitters. Besides, Wolf had a no-hitter going for 6 2/3 innings, so I’m thinking we should cut him some slack. ;-)

Taking the Fifth

The game’s only scoring took place in the bottom of the fifth inning, when the previously dormant Padres erupted for six runs. Some quick highlights:

  • According to my scorecard, Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez breezed through the first four innings on 54 pitches but threw another 48 in the fifth before yielding to Kip Wells.
  • Khalil Greene walked twice in the inning, invoking the memory of Rod Serling in the IGD. Greene now has three walks on the season.
  • The six runs came on three hits, all doubles to right.
  • All three outs were strikeouts on pitches out of the zone. Yeah, guys might have gotten a little anxious there.

The key play came with runners at first and second (both via walk) and one out. Wolf, who had rapped into a 4-3 double play after failing to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the third, fell behind in the count, 1-2, while trying to do the same here.

This time, the sacrifice remained in effect with two strikes and Wolf got the bunt down, toward charging third baseman Garrett Atkins. Jimenez, though, grabbed the ball in front of Atkins, turned, and fired it over the head of second baseman Jayson Nix covering first.

Brian Giles followed with a booming double off the base of the right-field wall that plated two. After Tadahito Iguchi struck out, the Rockies intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to face Kevin Kouzmanoff. Friend of Ducksnorts Jonah Keri recently interviewed Kouz, who among other things talks about his approach to hitting at Petco Park:

…I think it’s important to work on line drives, just staying up the middle of the field. Just trying to square up the ball and put the barrel of the bat on the ball. We have no control over where the ball’s going after that point. All you can do is try to find good pitches to hit, hit them hard and try to find the gaps.

Kouz did just that. After working the count to 3-1, he drilled a fastball inside the bag at first, scoring two more runs.

Jim Edmonds followed with the at-bat of the evening, which also happened to be the death blow. With the count full, Edmonds fouled off three Jimenez offerings before drilling a double to right that brought home the game’s final runs.

The scoreboard had Jimenez’s fastball at 96-97 mph, and he backed it with a slider that checked in around 87-89 mph. He looked nasty through the first four innings, and I figured that with the way Wolf was pitching, one run would make the difference — as it had on Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Padres, though, had other ideas. These guys can hit a little. They just need to remember that.

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34 Responses »

  1. Happily, the game was on Extra Innings. I’m going to have to disagree on Wolf. He was effectively wild.

    His curve was snapping yet with a huge break (always been his best asset) — practically unhittable.

    His cutter inside was getting called a strike and the Rockies were never prepared for that. I don’t know if its deceptive or a missed scouting report.

    And his fastball has always been a bit sneaky but he was either hitting the outside corner or way off the plate.

    In other words, it was frustrating to see him not be able to take too many guys 1-2-3, but the reason why he was having a no hit bid was that he had good stuff and wasn’t consistent in his command. But when he was off, it wasn’t over the plate — it was well off the plate. Maybe that last part is luck, but I think it made his other pitches more effective.

  2. Great game for the Padres last nite. Can’t believe Khalil walked twice in the same inning. Has any Padre drawn two unintentional walks in an inning?

  3. Just wanted to let you guys know I played poker last night with a guy who is “a fan” and who has “season tickets.” He informed me in no uncertain terms that Trevor is done; however, when I pressed him on why, his only support was that his is “a fan” and he has “season tickets.” So maybe you should take his opinion with a grain of salt or two. :-)

  4. Dirk Hayhurst’s latest Baseball America Non-Prospect Diary:

    Speaking of Khalil, with those two walks last night he raised his OBP above his average as he had 3 SF and 1 BB before last night leading to the weird line of 260/259/340. After the game in SF when he had 2 SF’s his line was 323/303/419.

  5. 1: Do you think its possible he was intentionally throwing off the plate?

  6. I was sitting right off the Padres dugout last night, so I could not see inside/outside location, but both pitchers got help from keeping the ball down and the ump keeping a low strike.

    I saw more balls bounced by a pitcher last night than I think I saw the entire season.

    Edmonds looks really bad at the plate…it is not just camera tricks.

  7. #5@SDSUBaseball: Not necessarily. Especially since he went 3-2 before drawing the walk on Wells. I didn’t happen to hear Khalil’s first AB, but I fail to understand why you would unintentionally intentionally walk the first batter of an inning.

  8. #7@Phantom: Yeargh, stupid. Sorry, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the first commenter in here today.

  9. #6@Coronado Mike: I’m totally with you re: Edmonds, and yet the crazy thing is that he’s hit in all but one of the games he’s started.

    Granted, that’s the problem with BA. Our team has a pretty great BA right now, but it’s almost all singles. I can’t believe that we haven’t hit a HR in over a week.

  10. ALERT: Here’s an opportunity to “chat” with Bud …

  11. #10@LynchMob: 230pm *today*

  12. So, if you could ask Bud one question, what would it be?

    – why 12 man pitching staff?

    – did you consider PH’ing for Wolf in the 5th last night? in the 6th?

    – why has Heath Bell lost 3.5 mph on his fastball this year?

    – will you sit Edmonds vs lefties more in the future?

  13. #6@Coronado Mike: I was thinking the same with Edmonds — it looks like his bat is slow and he can’t catch up with fastballs. But then in the first four innings no one did and Jimenez made AGon and Kouz look foolish on some at-bats. But then in the 5th Edmonds turned on an inside fastball and drove it down the line in right. He also flew out deep to left-center in the 4th inning off Jimenez (the only hard hit ball before he lost his control in the fifth). He doesn’t look like he’s attacking the ball yet but remember he had only 6 at-bats in spring training (the other starters had 40 or more) and 35 so far this season. I think he’ll turn it around (although the only one walk is a little disturbing).

  14. OT: Howabout Adam Dunn’s line so far?
    .162 ./407/.243

    1 homer in 37 ABs and 16 walks. Cincy fans (and Dusty) must love that.

  15. 14: Pitch around him much?

  16. 14: That’s pretty damn impressive.

  17. #5 – I think on some pitches Wolf was intentionally throwing balls. He knows he doesn’t have wicked stuff and he definitely wasn’t throwing that curve two pitches in a row. He liked having set up pitches.

    That said, he also wasn’t hitting the mitt on a lot of those balls — or even close to it.

  18. #13@Schlom: Thanks for your comments to wrap up last night’s tread …

    re: 6 at-bats in spring training … that’s a bit misleading … those were ABs with the Padres before the injury … he played in several minor league “spring training” games in late March … and then a couple of regular season games with the Storm … my guess is that that might have totaled ~20 ABs (5 games @ 4 ABs per game) …

    I think I have higher expectations of Edmonds that most folks … I think he’ll draw a few more walks and hit for a bit more power than he’s shown here in the early going … but there’s a real possibility that that won’t happen …

  19. #12@LynchMob: a couple more questions I’d like to ask Bud Black …

    – why are the Padres interested in Shawn Estes?

    – did Jim Edmonds come of the DL a bit too soon?


  20. #18@LynchMob: Well, he’s still probably at least a week behind everyone else. We might be the only two that have any hopes for Edmonds. Be interesting to see what happens when Headley comes up — will they platoon Hairston and Edmonds in CF or use all four (including Giles) for the three spots? Of course, all but Headley have significant injury concerns so it might just work itself out.

  21. 20 … re: Headley … check out Alan’s comment #6 in the previous thread …

    … I think he spells out what’s in store for Headley pretty well.

  22. #10@LynchMob: Bud just said that they are hoping Prior will be in a Padre uni “around the first of June” … that’s good news!

  23. Because I am an idiot, I feel all special that my IGD post was linked to in today’s post.

    #22@LynchMob: That would definitely be a great thing. Let’s just not rush him off the DL a la Edmonds.

  24. 22: It would certainly be nice to have Prior back. Maybe they could even ease him back by pitching out of the bullpen if the rest of the rotation is still pitching well.

  25. #12@LynchMob: Bud ducked my questions … I submited a question about the 12-man pitching staff and one about Heath Bell’s drop in velocity … he got a few good questions … but many fluffy ones …

    You can see a chat log at

  26. OT … WC @ BP reports this about Randy Johnson …

    It was good to see The Big Unit back on the mound, throwing low-90s heat and snapping off sliders. It was better to hear that he had normal soreness after the start. Even better than that was hearing that he had no pain or swelling the next day in either his pitching arm or his surgically-repaired back. His control was a little shaky, especially early and with the fastball, intimating that there’s some searching for a release point and a comfort level. Johnson’s next scheduled to take the mound on Sunday against the Padres. I’d expect him to both make the start and make some progress with his command. All in all, it was exactly what the D’backs wanted to see from the veteran.

    … we’ve been warned … Sunday’s game will be Wolf’s next start … on 4 days rest …

  27. 24: I have never been a fan of seeing starters rehab out of the bullpen, but it may be our only choice with Prior.

  28. #20, #21 : Headley is currently hitting 245/327/347 with 1 HR in 49 ABs… so he’s not exactly forcing anybody’s hand at this point.

  29. Serious question … who’s the better pitcher right now: Trevor Hoffman or Barry Zito?

    I think Zito could finish the year 2-18 … and that’s assuming that the Giants score a lot of runs in 2 of his starts … which seems bound to happen …

  30. Down on the Farm … the AAA Padres (Portland Beavers) have already beat the AAA Rox (Colorado Springs) today 5-1 …

    … Ramos with a good start (5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 Ks) …

  31. The link to these comments says that there are only 6 comments, yet I’m comment #32.. Looks like we have a glitch in the matrix…

  32. #32@Marsh: Refresh the blog’s “home page” … when I did that, it said “32 Comments” … matrix is fine … take the blue pill … Trevor will get a save tonight … take the blue pill …

  33. John Sickles recently went to a San Antonio Missions game and saw Wil Inman pitch … here’s his comments and a few pics …