We made it to our first game of 2010 on Saturday night. I was prepared to hate the new 5:35 start time, but it turns out I didn’t. We had to rearrange our eating schedule, although that worked out well, as it resulted in a Lolita’s carne asada burrito after the game.
Speaking of change, the Padres are doing a few new things at the ballpark. First, they’re making the game-day program available for free. Former North County Times reporter and current Padres publications manager Shaun O’Neill notes in his introduction to the inaugural issue of Padres Blueprint that “the size is smaller, by design,” explaining that “a playbill-style format should make it easier to read from a ballpark seat.” It comes with a scorecard and basically rocks.
GY, should I use a gel pen to keep score on the scorecard?
Not unless you want ink all over yourself, in which case you’re probably better off splurging on a classy tattoo.
Another change is that the Padres have added OPS to the scoreboard, which means I no longer have to calculate it in my head. Oh, and if you think OPS is totally mainstream now, consider this: In my section, several folks who probably have been watching baseball longer than I’ve been alive engaged in a lengthy debate regarding the acronym’s meaning. A teen-aged boy in their midst correctly identified it as on-base-plus-slugging-percentage but was ignored by the adults, who preferred “overall percentage scored” and settled on that. I should have told them the kid was right, but I am shy with strangers and besides, their “explanation” made me smile.
The giveaway on Saturday was a David Eckstein bobblehead. It looks exactly like the real thing, only slightly larger. The Sacrifice Bunt has offered to trade me his but I’ve already got one and it’s very nice.
As for the game, is it poor form to complain about a 5-0 victory? Yes, we are all agreed that it is poor form. Very well, let the complaining begin.
I know it’s early, but the Padres need to improve their approach at the plate with the bases loaded. After repeatedly letting Tim Hudson and Edwin Jackson off the hook in previous games, they did the same with Kris Benson (!) on Saturday.
- First inning, no out: Chase Headley grounds into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch; Padres score one run
- Second inning, two out: David Eckstein grounds an 0-1 pitch to shortstop; no runs
- Fifth inning, two out: Scott Hairston pops a 2-0 pitch to shortstop; no runs
Finally, in the seventh, against the always-generous Arizona bullpen, Hairston walked, forcing home Adrian Gonzalez. The next batter, Nick Hundley, blooped a single just over second baseman Kelly Johnson’s head to drive home Headley and Kyle Blanks. (Hundley earlier homered to left off Benson, feasting on one of the fattest curve balls you’ll ever see.)
Okay, enough whining. To the good stuff:
- Despite battling a cold, Kevin Correia pitched well. He could have been more efficient (105 pitches in 5.2 IP), but he struck out the side in the third and fourth innings, so we’ll cut him some slack.
- The hitters drew seven walks. Granted, they received an assist from left-hander Jordan Norberto, who had zero command of his fastball, but it’s good to see the kids make Arizona’s pitchers work so hard.
- The bullpen looked great again. Luke Gregerson’s slider was biting and Mike Adams rebounded from his Thursday meltdown, retiring the side in order in the eighth on a grounder to third and two called strikeouts.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. has played well when given the opportunity. He made a few nice plays at second base in the Atlanta series and a few more on Saturday in his first start at shortstop with the Padres. He saved his best for last, bare-handing a ball that deflected off the glove of a diving Headley and throwing out a speedy Chris Young to seal the victory and the shutout.
Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time.