Have you ever noticed how the more you win, the more the little things irritate? Like watching the bullpen implode toward the end of Monday night’s victory against the Cubs. I should be happy with the win, right? I mean, before the season, if you’d told me the Padres would notch their 70th victory on August 16, I’d have been ecstatic.
Actually, I would have laughed; after all, I pegged this team to win 72-75 games, which looks about as silly right now as Dave Cameron’s pre-season ranking of the Seattle Mariners as the sixth best organization in MLB. Here, I must steal Dave’s words because they serve as an eloquent defense of my pessimism regarding the Padres (also, I happen to agree with him on this point):
I’m of the opinion that we should see everything in shades of probability. Since we don’t know what’s going to happen, I don’t find a lot of value in predictions. They are, for all intents and purposes, just guesses, some more informed than others.
Exactly. Meanwhile, back in the “pulling our heads out of the clouds” realm of actual games, I find myself oddly unsettled after a 9-5 win. There I go again with my sense of entitlement.
I can forgive the relief corps for allowing five runs in three innings. Those guys have been brilliant all year, and nobody is perfect. That they faltered doesn’t bug me; what bugs me is the way it happened.
In the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on first and two out, Luke Gregerson jumped ahead of Tyler Colvin, 0-2, before walking him. Kosuke Fukudome came up next, prompting Bud Black to summon lefty Joe Thatcher from the bullpen. Thatcher got ahead of Fukudome, 1-2, and then served up a two-run double.
Ernesto Frieri retired the next batter on one pitch to end the inning. After getting two quick outs in the eighth, Frieri gave up three straight hits — a single, double, and homer — all coming with two strikes. What had been a laugher now became a less humorous 7-5 affair that required the use of Mike Adams and Heath Bell to clean up the mess.
Clean it up, they did. But wouldn’t it have been nice to send Edward Mujica out there and save the big guns for another day? Ah, if only it were as easy to get that third strike as I make it sound.
On a less whiny note, Miguel Tejada and Chris Denorfia had terrific nights. Sure, Tejada committed his first error as a member of the Padres, but he immediately followd it by starting a 6-4-3 double play. He also went 4-for-5 at the plate and drove in two runs. That reminds me:
PA BA OBP SLG OPS+ Miguel Tejada 72 .313 .361 .433 125 Ryan Ludwick 64 .273 .344 .491 135
Small sample? Yes. Nice? Yes.
Denorfia collected three hits of his own, including a fun two-RBI triple to right-center in the ninth. My favorite play of the game also involved Denorfia. With no out in the eighth, he broke from first as Tony Gwynn Jr. laced a double over the third baseman’s head and down the left-field line. I do enjoy watching a hit-and-run executed to perfection.
Props to Kevin Correia for battling through a tough first few innings to find his groove and keep the game close until the offense kicked into gear. Come to think of it, props to Correia for kicking it into gear with an RBI double in the fifth. Granted, he received considerable assistance from Cubs left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, but even if a guy flings you a cookie… you still have to hit it.
The only real downer, other than the bullpen’s repeated inability to deliver the knockout blow, came after the game. In something of an upset (well, I was upset), first-round pick Karsten Whitson did not sign and will attend the University of Florida instead. Quoth GM Jed Hoyer:
All conversations indicated this would be a quick sign… I don’t know what changed. There is a sense of frustration. I’ll be honest, we’re really surprised. But I feel great about the way we handled this.
The Padres get the 11th pick overall in the 2011 draft as compensation, and I’ve been advised that next year’s class is stronger than this year’s, but right now it feels like a consolation prize. Missing on Whitson is a disappointment, I’m sure to the organization as well as to fans. On the bright side, as I noted last night on Twitter (no inside scoop here; just relaying what Mark Neely reported during the post-game show), they were able to ink sixth-round pick John Barbato.
That’s something. So is having a four game lead over San Francisco in the National League West with 45 games remaining. Yeah, I think I’ll live.