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.