None More Epic

I’m late to the party — blame a lack of sleep and previously scheduled interview (Jim returned the favor and interviewed me at AZ Snakepit) — but here are some observations from Thursday’s epic 22-inning battle with the Rockies:

  • Jake Peavy dominated. Yeah, the game went another 14 innings after Peavy departed, but he was brilliant.
  • Trevor Hoffman can thank Petco Park for killing two thunderous fly balls and keeping the game alive in the ninth. I’m still not ready to give up on baseball’s all-time saves leader, but Hoffman’s margin for error has slipped from slim to none.
  • There’s been some criticism that Bud Black didn’t leave Adrian Gonzalez in the game after he pinch hit for Heath Bell in the 11th. I’m assuming that Gonzalez had (and in Black’s judgment, needed) the day off, so I don’t have a real problem with that. The season is long, guys need a break. Presumably Black knows his personnel better than we do.
  • Why the heck was Paul McAnulty trying to stretch a leadoff double to right in the 13th? Either he or third base coach Glenn Hoffman isn’t paying attention there. Sacrifice Bunt thinks it’s a case of organizational hyper-aggressiveness, and P-Mac’s post-game comments seem to confirm this:

    I picked up Hoffy, he was waving, so I went. It was a good move — it was going to take a perfect relay throw. They executed.

    In an environment where runs are scarce, taking the extra base where possible makes sense, but only insofar as you’ve got guys who are capable of doing it. Lack of team speed is a problem for this club. There are other ways to make Petco Park work for you (see 2007), but right now the Padres aren’t exercising those, which makes their general sluggishness on the bases more of an issue than it otherwise might be. I’m not sure that eliminating third-base coaches altogether is appropriate, but maybe recognizing that McAnulty isn’t Jose Reyes and that Brad Hawpe isn’t Juan Pierre would help.

  • Plate umpire Victor Marquez blew a couple of calls, either of which probably would have led to a Padres victory if he’d gotten it right. The 2-2 pitch from Kevin Cameron to Hawpe in the top of the 14th was a strike, but Marquez channeled his inner Richie Garcia and called it a ball. Hawpe eventually walked, driving home the game’s first run. Then, in the bottom half, with the bases loaded, Colorado closer Manny Corpas missed on a 3-1 pitch to Colt Morton, which should have ended the game. Marquez called the pitch a strike, though, and two pitches later, Morton grounded to third. I’m not saying that Marquez was on the take, but he clearly missed two crucial calls.
  • On the bright side, I finally saw what Kevin Towers sees in Wil Ledezma. Dude pumped mid-90s heat for five innings. More importantly, he located his pitches. I had no idea he could do either of those things.
  • I’ve harped on the 12-man pitching staff at great length, so I won’t rehash all that here. I will note that having Glendon Rusch at the plate representing your last hope is a decidedly sub-optimal strategy.
  • Why is there no curfew in the National League. Josh Bard and Yorvit Torrealba both caught the entire game, squatting in full gear for the better part of 6+ hours. Those would be considered safe working conditions… how?
  • Outcome notwithstanding, this was a fascinating game and one that I’ll never forget. The sad part is that in the minds of many Padres fans, three runs in 22 innings reinforces their preconceived notion that Petco Park produces boring baseball. PM expressed this sentiment beautifully the other day in the comments:

    To the average fan, baseball is a product purchased for entertainment purposes. We got higher beer prices, higher seat prices, no offense and a lovely ballpark that seconds as a sinkhole for offense. So what exactly am I paying for?

    I don’t think of baseball in these terms, but I recognize that a lot of people do. For instance, I don’t go out to the movies now as often as I did, say, 10 years ago. Prices are too high, in my estimation, to justify most of the crap that’s being put out these days. If baseball is about beer and offense, then this is a lousy time to be a Padres fan.

  • Finally, and at the risk of revealing myself to be the total suck-up that I am, big thanks to Mark Grant and Matt Vasgersian for hanging in there with us and delivering the goods on television. I understand that their style isn’t for everyone, but if you can make me laugh at 1 a.m., you’re doing something right.

Okay, I feel better now. Onward…

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17 Responses »

  1. Nice recap. It really was an incredible game even if Marquez did try to spoil it. In his defense, 14 innings is a long time to be behind the plate calling balls and strikes.

  2. How in the world, even if you have an extra bench position player, are you still going to have a non pitcher pinch hitter when the game goes 22 innings ?

  3. Marquez blew the Colt Morton pitch but I thought he got the Cameron call right.

  4. #2@JP: True. And it looks like the Padres needed their deep bullpen.

  5. GY: agree with you completely on your point re: lack of team speed being a big problem for this team. After watching Furcal, Taveras, Young, among others in the division who can fly, having speed really opens up the potential on offense for big innings (or even manufacturing a run or two when you really need it). That is something that we simply can’t match.

  6. So a question for y’all…I only saw highlights (one of the downsides of living in VA), but it appeared that most of the game on Friday Jimmy Edmonds was taking bad routes on the balls…can anyone confirm that?

  7. The Padres management botched the offseason outfield revamp or retooling – Edmonds (skills look significantly in decline) is now a platoon player at best and thus his acquistion will prove to be a non-factor. The whole off season Dec-Jan “. Antonelli will be worked out in center field” debacle was confusing to many and seemed to be put forth in a sort of shot gun fashion. The off season premise that no outfield depth was needed because our “in house candidates” are sufficient (Gerut, PMac) seemed odd to me then as it does now….

  8. I think the Padres need to understand that they are competing for the entertainament dollar, and that without a marquee offensive player that is extremely difficult to do. The Padres have Gonzo who is that player, but his talent is placed on hold for 81 games a year. If Petco was a neutral park, this town could be filled fans wearing #23, much the same way they wear #21 today.
    Some people look down their noses at the average fan, but it is the average fan who pays the bills. If the Padres lose contact with him, maintaing the status quo will be next to impossible, leaving championship baseball a distant dream.

  9. What about defending NL champ AZ having 26,700 tickets sold for a Friday night game? Is there a more exciting team right now in the National League?

  10. #8@Field39: I disagree with that. First of all, unless they turned Petco into something like Coors Field, they aren’t going to have a superstar offensive performer. He’s not Ryan Howard, Pujols or Prince Fielder — that’s not a knock on Adrian but he’s simply not an elite level batter. I would guess that the most important thing for fans is to see their team win followed by an exciting game. Obviously losing every game 1-0 would kill attendance but I doubt that the crowds would be much higher if the Padres won games 10-8 vs. 2-1. The more runs you score the longer the games take and I’m sure that has an effect on attendance.

    Here’s a link with the Padres team attendance history:

    For the most part the attendance closely follows the team’s record. There’s really only a 5 year stretch when they played in a hitting friendly park (1989-1993) but since they won 3 of those years we can’t figure out if scoring more runs helped out.

    Let’s not go crazy after a bad week. There are already calls to break up the team after just a few week of the season (and when they are under one game back). We should probably give it some time — and if the D-backs keep playing like they are doing it’s not going to matter what the Padres do!

  11. 3: I thought it was the other way around… thats just me though

  12. 10: I think he is up there with, those guys. If he played in Philly or Milwaukee he would be considered an “elite” hitter. Not sure if Pujols, Howard or Fielder could do much better than .280/30HR/100 RBI in Petco.

  13. BTW, Tim Redding is 3-1 with a pretty good ERA, however, he did gave up 7R with only 1ER in the loss.

  14. 6: Yeah, he looked that bad to my friends who stayed until the end of the game. And he looked that bad on replays too. I give him April to prove himself, and so far, he’s looking done.

  15. #12@SDSUBaseball: Adrian is good but let’s not get crazy. On hitting alone he’s clearly well behind Pujols, Howard and Fielder. He closes the distance on the latter two because of his fielding and he might be a better bet going into the future because of his body type but there is no way he’s even close to those three, especially Pujols.

  16. #2@JP: #4@Kevin: If you have a better bench by not committing to 12 pitchers, the game may not go 22 innings. As I wrote in another thread, if there’s someone available to run for Clark and stand at 1st base if the game continues, we win that game on Bard’s knock. 22 innings wasn’t a foregone conclusion that proves the need for a 7 man bullpen. You absolutely cannot deploy your resources to meet situations that are so unlikely.

    #3@JP: I thought both the Cameron and Morton calls were bad, but he seemed to blow a few when the Rockies were pitching, too.

    #12@SDSUBaseball: There’d be a big difference in the OBP, because those players walk more than Gonzalez. And it’s hard to imagine that any of them would lose 15 HR hitting in Petco; only Howard plays in a bandbox. A 125 OPS+ is a very good, not great or elite, hitter. It accounts for parks. That’s not to say Hombre couldn’t improve, but there’s a real, significant gap between him and Pujols/Howard/Fielder at the plate.

  17. 6 & 14: I sit in the section next to the bullpen. I was there for the whole 22 innings Thur. and Edmonds looks bad both at the plate and in the field. He gets late breaks, runs crooked routes, and is slow. He says he is pressing, trying to impress everybody. Not sure what we are seeing can be fixed so simply. I am much more willing to give Trevor the benefit of the doubt. He at least has a history of starting slow the last couple years.