Clayton Richard was efficient (7 IP, 74 pitches, 52 strikes) in Friday’s 5-3 loss to the Nationals but made a couple of mistakes. The big blow was a three-run homer off the bat of Josh Willingham in the fourth. He absolutely crushed a ball to dead center.
A reader asked me before the season whether Willingham might be someone the Padres should acquire. I remember thinking that they didn’t need a short-term corner outfield solution in a rebuilding year and wondering why the Nationals would move a cheap, good player. I still don’t have an answer for that second question, but yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Padres uniform.
John Lannan was slinging slop and the Padres weren’t hitting it. They took some bad hacks on hitter’s counts. Overanxious. Seems like they were getting themselves out on bad 3-1 pitches. In fact, they went 1-for-5 in that count. Adrian Gonzalez grounded out in the first and flied out in the sixth, Chris Denorfia flied out in the third, Yorvit Torrealba singled in in the fourth, and Chase Headley grounded out in the sixth.
Lannan had that whole Jamie Moyer thing going all night. I don’t know if Lannan is any good (career ERA of 4.04 says maybe, K/9 of 4.40 says maybe not), but he sure made the Padres look bad.
Still, I thought they were going to pull it out in the ninth. The Padres loaded the bases with nobody out against Matt Capps but managed to score just one run. Judson Green said it best via Twitter:
Pads situation was so good that FanGraphs had their WE [win expectancy] at 47%, despite the 2 run deficit. Almost even odds, and K, K, GO, fail.
The key moment came when Capps froze pinch-hitter Matt Stairs on a 3-2 slider. Heckuva pitch. Capps had gotten ahead, 0-2, but Stairs battled back before striking out. The Padres went quietly after that and lost a winnable game.
Mat Latos delivered another terrific start in Saturday’s 4-2 victory. The two runs he surrendered in the second were a bit fluky.
Adam Kennedy’s grounder snuck under the glove of a diving David Eckstein for a run-scoring single. Wil Nieves’ grounder two batters later would have been a double play, but Kennedy was running on the pitch and Eckstein couldn’t quite make the tag before throwing to first, allowing the second run to score.
Fortunately Kennedy had committed a crucial error in the first that allowed Nick Hundley to bat with two on and two out. Hundley proceeded to knock a three-run homer that bounced off the top of the auxiliary scoreboard and into the left-field bleachers.
Hundley tripled in his next trip to the plate, becoming the fifth Padres catcher to homer and triple in the same game. Gene Tenace, Dan Walters, Carlos Hernandez, and Ramon Hernandez had previously accomplished the feat.
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What’s up with Denorfia’s walk-up music? Of all the cheesy ’80s hair bands, from Accept to Zebra, he chooses Quiet Riot… Not that Krokus or Warrant would have been any better…
On the bright side, nearly 26,000 people showed up to get their Headley bobblehead. On the not-so-bright side, they waited till one out in the ninth, with the Padres clinging to a two-run lead and Heath Bell on the mound, to start the wave. I have more to say about that, but I’ve been advised that nobody likes a hater, so… yay wave.
Speaking of cheesy music, at one point, a video ran on the scoreboard of Bell (vocals), Headley (guitar), and Hundley (drums) playing “Eye of the Tiger” on Rock Band. They weren’t bad, although they were no Quiet Riot.
I watched the first two innings of Sunday’s 3-2 win before heading to band practice. I imagine Jon Garland and Livan Hernandez sitting in adjacent rocking chairs on the front porch of an old log cabin, sipping lemonade. It’s hot and there’s nowhere to go in the world. Both men smile as they reflect on all the people they have known, all that they have done.
Then one of them throws a pitch.
At least the right team came out on top. Hundley drove home the game-winning run in the 11th. You could say that he killed with the skill to survive. That would be a stupid thing to say, but you could do it.
The Wave in the 9th inning of a closely contested battle… a phenomenon I’ve witnessed first hand… no use in trying to make sense of it.
Geoff, wouldn’t you say that Hundley’s defense has improved. Don’t have any metrics to back this up, but it just seems like he has settled in and at least become an average defensive catcher. Any thoughts?
@texpadre: I think so. Hundley exhibited good defensive skills in the minors, so it may have been a matter of just gaining experience at this level. I imagine that working with Ted Simmons (who has stressed the importance of experience as it relates to young catchers), and having guys like Henry Blanco and Yorvit Torrealba on the roster the past couple years, has helped. I’ve been in the minority on this, but I think Hundley is a legitimate big-league catcher… not a star, but a guy who can play regularly and not embarrass himself or the team.
@Geoff: I agree with you. If Hundley can get ~100 starts and put up a 100ish wRC+ through 500 plate appearances, I’d be ecstatic.
With no visual confirmation, I thought Hundley had a breakout season last year, albeit one interrupted by injury. Seems like he’s continuing to succeed this season. I’m looking forward to seeing him play this summer.
That’s a lot of lemonade. Great mental image, Geoff.