I love small samples. We can’t glean much from 15 games, but at least we can say the Padres are in first place all by their lonesome little selves. That’s a nice place to be. A guy could get comfortable there. Break out the deck chairs and stupid hats.
Never mind. It’s too early to get comfortable anywhere, although an off-day to enjoy the view (and rest the bullpen) is nice.
I didn’t watch or hear Wednesday’s 5-2 victory over the Giants, just followed along on Gameday as circumstances permitted, so what follows is an amalgamation of thoughts on the individual game as well as the entire homestand and season to date. Bullet points? Sure, let’s go crazy…
- In a twist, Jon Garland’s start was delayed 18 minutes by rain, and not the other way round. If anyone’s going to make the rain wait…
- Garland, who is a fan of Petco Park, enjoyed his first strong outing for the Padres. Good to see him not have to lean on the official scorer for help. As with Mat Latos a day earlier, efficiency was key. Garland needed just 92 pitches to work two batters into the eighth inning. Also like Latos, he served up a boatload of grounders. I am totally down with efficiency and grounders.
- I liked Nick Hundley’s two-run homer in the fifth. Not only did it extend the Padres lead to 4-1, it also represented another good at-bat for Hundley, whose strong suit isn’t necessarily hitting. As he did on Friday against Arizona’s Juan Gutierrez ahead of Chase Headley’s walk-off homer, Hundley fought his way back from down 0-2 to work the count full against Dan Runzler before swatting one over the left-field fence. Juan Gutierrez? Dan Runzler? Ah, I’m seeing a pattern here. Still, Hundley made them pay. And he had a monstrous homestand, hitting .300/.440/.600 in 25 PA.
- Come to think of it, the entire team had a monstrous homestand, hitting .260/.361/.421 with nine homers in as many games. If they keep that up, I want Randy Ready to have my baby.
- Speaking of Runzler, here’s his sixth inning: Bunt single, errant pickoff throw, sacrifice bunt, squeeze. That’s got to frost a guy.
- Kyle Blanks got the day off, replaced by Oscar Salazar in left field. Blanks is hitting just .217, but he’s getting on base and crushing baseballs. He took some ugly hacks against Jonathan Sanchez on Tuesday night; then again, so did most of the Padres. It’s good to see Bud Black give Gigantor a day off to clear his head and let Salazar get some work in the field. I’ve enjoyed watching the way Black deals with young players… especially the part where he uses them when they’re on his roster and doesn’t bury them when they struggle (Kevin Kouzmanoff sends his warm regards).
- Nobody heard me, so I could be making this up (I’m not), but I called Pablo Sandoval’s ninth-inning leadoff homer. Edward Mujica fell behind, 3-0, then grooved a fastball. I figured Mujica would groove another and Sandoval would crush it. He did, and he did. That was a great pitch by Mujica because it was a strike. Sandoval could have hit the ball to Symphony Hall and the score still would have been 5-2. Sandoval got his moment in the spotlight, Giants fans had something to cheer about for a moment, and then Mujica returned to the business of completing the sweep.
- Speaking of Sandoval, props to Luke Gregerson for bailing out Garland in the eighth. Gregerson entered with two on and no out, but got Eugenio Velez to line into a double play and Mark DeRosa to fly out to end the frame, leaving Sandoval on deck, where he could do no harm.
- Will Venable stole two bases on Wednesday. The Padres now lead the National League with 17 steals. More importantly, they’ve been successful in 85% of their attempts. If they keep that up, I want Dave Roberts to have my other baby.
- The starting pitching has been a pleasant surprise so far. I expected the rotation to be one of the weaker links this season (and again, we’ve got 147 games left on the schedule so let’s not jump to conclusions), but I’ve been impressed, particularly by Kevin Correia and Clayton Richard. We’ll see how I feel after they’ve gotten a few more than three starts under their belts.
Atop the NL West is a fun place to be. Savor it now, while you can.