It was nice of Jon Garland to finally arrive at the party. Sure, the ERA has been pretty, but that’s mostly because he keeps putting his defense to sleep.
I fell asleep a few times during Tuesday’s victory over the Marlins, although Garland isn’t to blame (I’m fighting a little bug, nothing serious). He pitched a terrific game.
It didn’t start out that way. Garland needed 30 pitches to get through the first inning and took the count full against five of the first seven batters he faced. But his pitches were moving and eventually he settled down to work six strong innings and tie a career high with 10 strikeouts.
Garland grew increasingly efficient as the game progressed:
Inn Pit 1st 30 2nd 19 3rd 15 4th 12 5th 10 6th 19
Well, not the sixth, but you get the point. Actually, Garland may have done his best work in the sixth. After allowing leadoff singles to Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan, he induced the dangerous Hanley Ramirez to rap into a 4-6-3 double play. Maybin scored from third, but the rally was over. Garland fanned Jorge Cantu to end the inning without further damage.
Luke Gregerson was his usual dominant self on the mound. He struck out the side in the seventh, allowing only a bloop single to Gaby Sanchez on one of the most defensive swings you’ll ever see. Dick Enberg described it as “blocking” the ball. Sanchez’s hit snapped a string of 26 straight batters retired by Gregerson.
Mike Adams rebounded from his recent implosion in Cincinnati to set down the Marlins in order in the eighth. Heath Bell, thrust into an “easy save” situation, made things interesting at the end. After Ramirez and Cantu led off the ninth with singles, Dan Uggla crushed a ball to deepest center field for the first out. John Baker then struck out, bringing up Sanchez, who hit a sinking liner to right that had extra bases written all over it until Will Venable came flying in to make a spectacular diving catch to end the game.
Offensively, the win was a team effort. Every position player in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit, with David Eckstein (3-for-5), Adrian Gonzalez (2-for-5), and Tony Gwynn Jr. (2-for-2, 2 BB, 2 SB) pacing the attack.
My take? This doesn’t change much. Gonzalez already was going to break the bank on the open market; the Howard extension may provide him and his agent, John Boggs, with another data point to reference when negotiating, but the numbers would be mind-boggling either way. As for the Padres, their chances of re-signing Gonzalez go from microscopic to — wait for it — microscopic.
Seriously, am I the only one who finds the whole “Gonzalez’s future” thing a complete non-story? Either he stays or he goes; when something happens, it becomes a story, but until then, I’d rather watch ballgames. Maybe that’s just me, though.