How Not to Bury a Pirate

It’s amazing the sense of entitlement one acquires when one’s team succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful — after all, the Padres did beat the Pirates on Wednesday — but whatever happened to playing a full nine innings?

In case you missed it, the Padres held a 6-0 lead headed into the seventh. That inning, Kevin Correia retired the first batter he faced; then this happened:

J Tabata singled to left center.
N Walker singled to center, J Tabata to second.
G Jones singled to left, J Tabata to third, N Walker to second.
P Alvarez walked, J Tabata scored, N Walker to third, G Jones to second.

The Alvarez walk, incidentally, came after Correia had jumped ahead in the count, 0-2. I recognize that Alvarez is a dangerous hitter, but with a seven-run lead, you need to be in attack mode.

Ernesto Frieri replaced Correia, and although Frieri escaped the jam, he also allowed all of his inherited runners to score. Don’t get me wrong, a three-run lead after seven is still nice, but you can’t be giving the opposition hope right there. Before that inning, the Pirates had none… from that point forward, they played like they thought they could come back and win; what’s worse, they almost did.

Am I done complaining? Dude, I haven’t even gotten started.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Padres had runners at first and second with one out. They then executed a double steal, with Will Venable swiping third and Chris Denorfia taking second.

Okay, that’s more like it.

Then pinch-hitter Scott Hairston and Everth Cabrera (who had replaced Jerry Hairston Jr. at second base in the top half) struck out looking. Neither so much as moved his bat. Actually, Hairston went around on a check swing for strike two, but that’s it. At least he had the decency to throw his helmet when he returned to the dugout. Not that it helped, but I appreciated the gesture.

As an aside, Jerry Hairston Jr. earlier homered off ex-Padre Chan Ho Park. In fact, several former Padres pitchers have helped their old team this series:

                IP H R ER HR BB K
Wil Ledezma    1.0 1 1  1  1  0 3
Sean Gallagher 0.1 0 0  0  0  2 1
Chan Ho Park   1.0 4 3  3  1  0 1
Evan Meek      1.0 1 1  1  0  1 0

Anyway, back to my vitriolic rant… In the eighth, with two out, Jose Tabata hit a lazy fly ball to right. Ryan Ludwick drifted toward the line for the routine play… and had the ball clank off the heel of his glove. After a passed ball (Mike Adams threw a slider for a strike, but Yorvit Torrealba was looking fastball) sent Tabata to third, Neil Walker singled to make the score 7-5. That brought up Garrett Jones, the Pirates’ top home-run hitter, representing the tying run.

Hello, what happened? This was, like, a blowout and stuff.

No worries. Adams struck out Jones to end the threat. Still…

On the bright side, the Padres got that run back in the bottom half thanks to a great slide by Miguel Tejada, who managed to elude the tag of catcher Chris Snyder on a ground ball to second off the bat of Chase Headley. The fact that Walker’s throw home was a little high helped, but Tejada got a terrific jump with the infield in and pulled the ol’ “slap your hand on the plate as you’re sliding behind the catcher” move on Snyder.

Then, with runners at the corners and one out, Torrealba worked the count in his favor, 2-1. He promptly rapped into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. As with Hairston an inning earlier, though, he flung his helmet in disgust… so there was that.

The ninth, I am happy to report, was uneventful. Heath Bell retired the side in order. About the only excitement came when Bud Black realigned his entire outfield at the start of the inning (Venable moved from left to right, Denorfia from center to left, and Tony Gwynn Jr. took over in center, replacing Ludwick).

So, yeah, I’m a little grouchy. But mostly I’m happy the Padres beat the Pirates and won the series. A sweep would be nice… it’s that whole sense of entitlement thing again. And go Cubs.

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14 Responses »

  1. I think this is a good sign of teamwork.

    The Padres pulled together as a team in order to get Heath Bell another save!

  2. Be nice to have a 3.5 game lead going to SF, just in case. BTW, thanks for the BB material, Giants.

  3. Thanks for the recap. I turned the game off when it was 6-0 and was wondering why I got points for a Heath Bell save in my fantasy league.

    Correia seems to be about a 5 1/3 inning pitcher. I am too lazy to look but I am positive that most of his wins this year are less than six innings.

    On a side note, it was nice to see Tejada contribute. He has been a little better than advertised on the field, which is nice. Hopefully his bat is beginning to wake up.

    Great blog. I have been reading for a long time and just thought I would make my first comment.

  4. OT … back to Denorfia’s “inside-the-park-HR-which-should-have-been-an-E7″ … HitTracker shows its “distance” as 0 :-)

    http://www.hittrackeronline.com/index.php?h=SD&sortm=true_dist&sort=asc

    … which is a slight exaggeration … the ball looked to hit the ground about 10-20 feet in front of him :-)

    Still, I wonder if we saw history there? Shortest HR of all time :-)

  5. In the spirit of the late lamented Ducksnorts GDTs, posted at 5:16pm: Boom goes the dynamite.

  6. Just based on watching the highlights (and reading comments like yours about Tejada scoring when “Walker’s throw home was a little high”) reminded me of the cost of “poor defense” … the Bucs aren’t making errors … they just aren’t making the “above average” plays that either cut down runners at the plate or prevent them from trying to score the first place.

    That seems worth a bit of an anti-rant :-)

    But on the subject of “rant”, I meant to rant a bit about the Padres almost “pulling a Dodger” the previous game when Denorfia got thrown out on the bases just ahead of Torrealba scoring on LeBlanc’s single … seems like he was risking the run getting scored … luckily Torrealba hustled to get across the plate better than that Dodger did a week ago or so (that was *sweet*!) …

    I guess that means I’m also feeling entitled to rant against things the Padres almost do bad/wrong … hey, that feels kinda fun :-)

  7. @Steve: I like your thinking.

    @Joe: Thanks for saying hey. Good point about Correia and innings. I checked, and he’s worked into the seventh three times this year in 22 starts. You were right: Five of his nine wins have come with him working fewer than 6 innings.

    @LynchMob: Denorfia’s homer may well have been record setting. Even if not, it sure was impressive… And so true about making the plays. Here is video of the Tejada slide. Walker’s throw wasn’t terrible but it tailed up the third base line just enough to give Tejada a window.

    @Tom Waits: Ah, thank you. Ludwick crushed that ball.

  8. There is a real cost involved in letting Wednesday’s get close. It’s that Heath Bell will go into the Giants series having pitched in three consecutive games.

  9. @TW … wasn’t it “IGD”? Ya, I miss those also …

    @F39 … wow, good point … doesn’t seem at all likely that that won’t bite us …

  10. @GY: When I saw the replay of that home run, I assumed I was watching something from earlier in the game. You have to be strong like bull to do what he did to that pitch.

    @Field39: Black could have realized he was facing the bottom of a weak Pittsburgh lineup yesterday and given the save opportunity to somebody besides Bell. Mujica hasn’t pitched since the 8th. Frieri pitched on the 11th but had a couple days off before that. Stauffer hasn’t thrown since the 7th. Maybe they’re trying to stretch Stauffer out in the pen and he wasn’t available, but if you don’t trust Mujica to get 3 outs against Pittsburgh before giving up 3 runs, what’s he doing on the roster?

    Let’s wallop Dirty Sanchez tonight and make it a moot point.

  11. @LM: Yes, that’s the one. In Game Discussion.

  12. @Field39: Great point about Bell’s usage. That is a definite concern headed into one of the most crucial series of the season.

    @TW: Ludwick launched a couple of monster shots this week. The second ball he hit out on Wednesday impressed the heck out of me. It was a much easier pitch to hit, but check out the trajectory on that thing. When the ball left his bat, I started yelling “Go! Go! Go!” but I kept thinking, no way, he got under it. The ball just kept carrying… Not to think too far ahead, but how is Ludwick not a part of this team in 2011?

  13. @TW: Letting Thatcher pitch the 9th would have been the way to do it, in my opinion. You could double switch out Tejada when bringing in Thatcher in the 8th, since Tejada made the last out of the previous inning and is a late game defensive liability anyway. Then Thatcher pitches to the lefties Jones and Alvarez and the switch hitters who are worse as righties Doumit and Young. If there’s a jam at that point, Bell can come in for the save; otherwise let Thatcher finish it up.

    Creative and flexible bullpen management doesn’t seem to be one of Black’s strengths. The bullpen has certainly pitched well under his watch this year, though. Maybe the defined roles are part of the reason for its success.

    @GY: I think Ludwick will be on the team next year, and I’m excited about the signal that sends about keeping Adrian as well. How could you possibly pay Ludwick $7 million for one year while trading Adrian because he only has a year left under contract?

  14. @Ben

    That would have worked. I can’t fault Black for letting Stairs have a whack at putting more runs on the board, but it seems like he’s ready to use Tejada full-time. It’s hard to knock a guy who’s probably the NL Manager of the Year, but he does appear to manage the pen by rote.

    I think Ludwick and Adrian stay, too. You fall out of contention, you can trade both, and get more for Ludwick than a Kluber and Greenwood.