Tuesday night’s 3-2 victory over the Giants took a tremendous effort of will… to watch. Neither starter could find the strike zone, as Wade LeBlanc failed to survive the fifth inning and Barry Zito tied a career high with seven walks. If there’s anything more scintillating than watching two guys fling baseballs everywhere but across home plate, I don’t know what it is… but I’d love to see it.
The Padres didn’t deserve to win this one. That’s okay, though, neither did the Giants. To the bullet points:
- San Francisco hurlers twice walked David Eckstein to face Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded and two out. The “strategy” worked both times: Gonzalez lined to left to end the fourth and struck out swinging to end the seventh.
- Eckstein finished the game 2-for-2 with three walks, marking the third three-walk performance of his career. He has drawn more walks (8) against Zito than against any other pitcher he’s faced.
- Kyle Blanks struck out looking in his first two trips to the plate, then walked three straight times. Blanks has walked or struck out in 52.8% of his plate appearances this year (Mark Reynolds achieved one of those two outcomes in 45.2% of his PA in 2009, in case you’re wondering).
- Fun moment of the night: In the second inning, with runners at first and second, Zito laid down a sacrifice bunt. LeBlanc pounced on it and flipped the ball home. Yorvit Torrealba fired to first to retire Zito. You may ask yourself why LeBlanc threw home. Well, that is a good question.
- Is there a better pitch in baseball than Luke Gregerson’s slider?
- I didn’t need to see quite so many breaking balls from Heath Bell in the ninth. Getting cute while trying to protect a one-run lead on the road doesn’t work for me.
- The Padres drew 12 walks, tying their highest total ever for a nine-inning game. They had done it three times before, most recently on May 31, 2000, against the Milwaukee Brewers. The franchise record is 14, which happened on August 25, 1979, against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game that took 19 innings and more than six hours to decide.
- Tim Stauffer, who pitched (and hit) beautifully as a last-minute replacement for Kevin Correia on Sunday, underwent an emergency appendectomy on Tuesday and is expected to miss at least four weeks. Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos have been recalled from Triple-A Portland to replace Stauffer and Correia on the roster.
The Padres now have a 1 1/2 game lead over second-place San Francisco. Clayton Richard and Matt Cain face off in the second of three at PhoneCo on Wednesday. If this battle between the NL West’s top teams lacks a playoff atmosphere, it’s only because 130 games remain on the schedule.