Like Tom Browning and Kirk Gibson, but Not Really

Crazy times in the National League West on Wednesday. The two teams chasing the Padres came back from 10-1 deficits. The Braves ended up losing to Colorado, 12-10. At least Cincinnati had the decency to fight back and beat the Giants, 12-11, in 12 innings.

Not that the Reds didn’t try to give it away. Mike Leake pinch-hitting in the seventh? Francisco Cordero batting for himself with the bases loaded in the 12th?

Thank goodness Bruce Bochy brought in his closer, Brian Wilson, to work the eighth of a game the Giants were then losing, 10-5. Wilson threw 23 pitches that inning, then sat in the dugout for a long time while his team scored six runs, before returning to work the ninth. Pablo Sandoval sat for a long time, too, which maybe helps explain why he committed San Francisco’s fifth error of the game. Whatever, we’ll take it.

Meanwhile, back home in San Diego, the Padres took care of business against the increasingly sad Diamondbacks. Sure, Stephen “I’m No Matt Bush” Drew went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two homers, but his teammates went 3-for-29, pushing Drew’s efforts into the “oh, by the by” file.

Wade LeBlanc? He served up the two homers. That will happen; people should be used to it by now. LeBlanc isn’t going to blow the ball past hitters, but he will challenge them, which means that sometimes stuff goes kaboom. Tom Browning turned the same recipe into a tasty career.

Of course, LeBlanc has the advantage of Petco Park. His splits this year:

       IP  ERA   BA  OBP  SLG PA/HR
Home 79.2 2.71 .258 .323 .407 36.56
Road 60.1 5.37 .296 .354 .521 22.17

At least here, sometimes stuff that goes kaboom dies on the warning track. Hey, work it if you’ve got it.

Ernesto Frieri retired all four batters he faced. Looks nice in the box score, but he hung some curve balls. Edward Mujica worked a scoreless ninth. I like him with a six-run lead and three outs to go.

The Padres hitters, meanwhile, flexed some muscles of their own against Joe “I’m No Dan Haren” Saunders. After Drew’s leadoff homer (which originally was ruled a double) in the first, Miguel Tejada answered with a two-run shot in the bottom half that went a long way. For someone who allegedly has nothing left to offer, he sure is looking good (.298/.365/.447, 130 OPS+ in 104 PA).

Tejada and leadoff man David Eckstein reached base seven times. That is some nice table setting right there. Adrian Gonzalez, who is now hitting .308/.357/.692 in the six games since we wondered what was wrong with him, pounded his 26th homer of the season. The ball just cleared the right-field fence and Gonzalez used mostly his upper body to crank that thing out… Dick Enberg compared it to Kirk Gibson’s shot in ’88 off Dennis Eckersley… without all the drama, of course.

Adrian’s home run was his 156th with the Padres, which ties him with Phil Nevin for second place in franchise history. Gonzalez needs eight more to pass Nate Colbert and take the lead.

The team as whole continues to hit well… better than most folks realize, in fact. Five teams in the NL have a positive adjusted batting runs figure and an OPS+ of 100 or better:

Team  ABR OPS+
Mil  49.5 108
Cin  27.2 105
SD   26.7 101
Atl  19.9 102
StL  11.6 102

Petco Park continues to disguise the potency of San Diego’s attack, but there it is. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Randy Ready is my hero.

The Padres look for the sweep against Arizona on Thursday afternoon. It’s another of those throwback dealios (where they wear the ’78 unis) that I haven’t been able to attend all year (not that I’m bitter or anything). Kevin Correia faces Ian Kennedy in the finale. As was the case last season, Correia has been much more effective since the All-Star break (5-2, 3.79 ERA, .245/.320/.358). Kennedy, for his part, hasn’t stunk, which means the key once again will be getting into that Arizona bullpen and its 5.93 ERA.

The Giants are off today. If the Padres win, they will extend their lead in the NL West to 7 games with 26 36 to go. I don’t know about you, but I could live with that.

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6 Responses »

  1. Hmmm … how can only 5 of 16 teams be above average? Sure, none of them are from Lake Wobegone, so that explains how/why not all of them are above average …

  2. So what season’s uniform will the D-backs wear?

  3. 36 games to go after today, Geoff.

  4. Man, I was wrong. Tejada has been a real positive addition. I guess he just was not motivated in Baltimore. Really like Tejada and Eckstein at the top of the lineup.

    Really hate to play with numbers but say the Padres play their worst stretch of the year and go 17-20, the Giants would have to go 22-12 just to tie.

    In addition, over the last 162 games, the Padres have won 99! That is a sample of work, no?

  5. @LynchMob: Some brutal OPS+ totals at the bottom (Astros, 78; Pirates, 80; Mets, 87) are skewing the curve.

    @Pat: Looks like they went with current uniforms… boring (but annoyingly effective).

    @Johnny: Heh, wishful thinking on my part. Thanks for the catch; it’s been fixed.

    @Lem: At this point, the Padres “just” need to continue doing what they’ve been doing. Easier said than done, but one of the most impressive aspects of this team to me has been its resiliency and consistency. If the Padres play anywhere near the way they’ve played over the first 4 1/2 months of the season, they will be difficult to catch.

  6. Not much to add, but, as a lifelong Padres fan, can I just mention how great it is to be having conversations like this at this point in the season – a season in which everybody predicted San Diego to finish dead last? I love it.