Tuesday’s Win Deserves a Better Title Than This

The first seven innings of Tuesday night’s comeback victory over the Rockies provided an exercise in frustration for the home team and its fans. The Padres put runners on every inning, and got at least one man into scoring position in each of the fourth through seventh innings, yet plated just one run.

Colorado starter Greg Smith walked five batters in five innings, and none of them scored. The Padres kept bailing him and his successors out with shoddy baserunning, from David Eckstein getting caught stealing (worst slide ever!) on a 3-1 swinging strike to Adrian Gonzalez in the first, to Scott Hairston getting picked off first the next inning, to Kyle Blanks getting thrown out at home to end the sixth on a pitch that skipped past catcher Miguel Olivo. Where the baserunning didn’t cost the Padres, lack of timely hitting did, most notably when Chase Headley rapped into a 6-3 double play with runners at the corners to end the seventh.

Wade LeBlanc pitched an okay game. Not great, but okay. He was lights out the first time through the lineup, then ran into a little trouble in the fourth inning, although his defense didn’t do him any favors. With Todd Helton at first base, Troy Tulowitzki grounded to his counterpart, Jerry Hairston, Jr., for what looked to be a double play. I haven’t seen the replays, but from Section 303, it looked like Hairston gave Eckstein a poor feed, causing the return throw to first to arrive just a shade late. The Rockies eventually loaded the bases with one out, but LeBlanc got Olivo to ground into a 5-2 fielder’s choice (Headley charged and fired home on a slow chopper to nab Tulowitzki at the plate — Headley made several nice plays and continues to look more comfortable back at the hot corner) before fanning Ian Stewart to escape without damage.

As you might imagine, for Padres fans, the final two innings were a blast. Bud Black had his managerial mojo working. Lifting Blanks for Will Venable with nobody on and one out in the eighth against right-hander Manuel Corpas worked like a charm. Venable attacked an 0-2 slider down and out of the zone, smacking it to right-center for a triple. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a sacrifice fly to right that tied the ballgame.

Then in the ninth, Black sent fellow SDSU alum Lance Zawadzki up to bat for Heath Bell, who had worked a scoreless ninth (after Luke Gregerson shut down the Rockies the previous two innings). Zawadzki coaxed a walk from Rockies left-hander Franklin Morales. After Tony Gwynn Jr. sacrificed the runner to second and Eckstein flied to left, Gonzalez stepped to the plate. Morales fell behind, 3-0, and then delivered an intentional ball four, bringing up Headley, who needed some redemption after his double play in the seventh. As he did a couple weeks ago against Arizona, Headley came through in a big way, swatting a Morales offering into right-center and driving home Zawadzki for the game winner.

At some point, teams will stop pitching around Gonzalez to face Headley. As Corey Brock noted on Twitter, Headley is now 3-for-3 with 7 RBI following an intentional walk to Gonzalez this year. I can live with that.

In other news, the Padres have placed right-hander Sean Gallagher on the DL with a “sprained toe on his left foot.” Right-hander Ryan Webb has been recalled to take his spot on the roster, which means Black has one more usable arm in non-blowouts. I don’t doubt the severity of Gallagher’s injury, but that sure was convenient.

Random junk:

  • The Padres have stolen 31 bases so far this year. In 2009, they swiped their 31st bag in a June 28 contest against the Rangers.
  • Gwynn has a higher ISO (.113) than Headley (.084).
  • So does Eckstein (.087). I love small samples.
  • Zawadzki is the all-time leader in hits among Padres whose last name begins with Z. He broke the record, previously held by nobody, with his first big-league knock against ex-Padre Randy Wolf on Sunday.
  • With his third-inning single on Tuesday, LeBlanc hit safely in four consecutive at-bats. He grounded out in the fourth, dropping his average to .625.
  • Opponents are hitting .115/.148/.135 against Gregerson this year.

The Padres seek their sixth straight series win on Wednesday. Clayton Richard and Aaron Cook hook up at the usual time tonight. With luck, I will be chatting again on Baseball Tonight Live, so swing by if you can.

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7 Responses »

  1. Headley’s lack of power disappoints me. I was expecting more from the guy who killed the Texas League in 2007. Oh well, at least he’s getting on base and playing good defense.

    Geoff when you aren’t on ESPN you should join us over at Gaslamp Ball. Tons of fun every night!

  2. A few notes:

    Didn’t you just feel that the Padres would win that game? Once the bullpen inherited the game it seemed like a gimme that they could scrounge up the runs to win. We scrounge. It’s what we do.

    Isn’t it nice to be able to enter Heath Bell into a tie game? With all due respect to Trevor, he was always horribly out of sorts entering with runners on base or during a tie game. I love the flexibility that Bell gives Buddy. I thought we’d win it in 9 but I also felt like all Heath had to do was blank the Rox in the 9th and if we didn’t score then Stauffer would go for the next… I don’t know… 7-12 innings.

    The Sean Gallagher “toe injury” made me think of the Sylvester Stallone movie Victory. (MOVIE TRAILER VOICE:) In WW II era Germany, the ally POWs need an able-bodied goalie for the soccer game against the Germans but to get the skillful Stallone on the roster they have only one choice… BREAK THE ARM of their current goalie! I guess it’s not as dramatic (without the WWII backdrop) but it’s good to know that Bud is willing to inflict bodily injury so that he can simultaneously get rid of Gallagher but also keep him. Here’s to you, Bud!

  3. Venable gets my player of the game. It looked like we might just let this one slip away. 8th inning, one out, no one on, if he gets out we only have 4 outs left. Then he lets to fastballs go to camp on a slider, going from 0-2 with five outs and no one on to 1 out, runner on third is huge. Fangraphs support Venable as player of the game:

    Venable had a .220 WPA (win probability added; I had to look it up). Basically we had like a ~25% chance of winning before his AB to a ~50% chance after.

    Let’s hope we can cook Cook for once…

  4. re: SDSU alum’s … eh, I just looked it up and “alum” doesn’t imply “graduated”, as I initially suspected … but I do still want to point out that Zaws transfered from SDSU to Lee University from whence he was drafted, after leading his team to the NAIA World Series …

    re: toe … I do like the mischevious thought of Gallagher being called into someone’s office and being told “and stub your toe on the way in” :-) OTOH, I’m willing to give him some benefit of the doubt that his suckitude is due to the toe … let’s see what happens after a few rehab outings in Portland.

  5. The best part is that gregerson’s away numbers aren’t as bad as last year .167/.200/.208 vs. .307/.376/.443 in 2009. Gotta love that small sample size.

    I am still scared by any pitcher that seems to only have one pitch, but I guess that it can work for a one inning reliever.

  6. LynchMob: thanks for the reminder that a player on the DL can be extended beyond the 15 days with a few rehab starts. The Padres kept Gallagher because he really has great stuff, and he’s only 24. He spent most of last year rehabbing his knee to avoid surgery, and pitched only 40 innings total. He needs innings to get in a groove, and Bud has been trying to get him innings in blowout losses, but there haven’t been many (hooray). I don’t know how long he (and Young) can stay on the 15 day DL, but he needs those rehab innings.

  7. @Zach: I don’t think Headley will ever be a big home run guy, especially at Petco Park. Think high-teens, low-twenties. And thanks for the invite; I will be sure to swing by one of these days.

    @Mike: With the way the offense was going, I really didn’t. Always happy to be wrong about such things.

    @Jay: Yeah, Venable came up huge. When he hit that ball, I thought Corpas had made a mistake 0-2. Then I saw the replay and realized that Venable went down and got it. For where the pitch was, I still can’t believe how hard he hit it.

    @LynchMob: Great point about a potential rehab assignment for Gallagher. Maybe a little more time will help. I admittedly haven’t seen him pitch when he’s “right,” so maybe he is better than what he’s shown.