Padres Drop Series to Marlins; On the Bright Side, People Actually Saw It

Too bad nothing happened over the weekend, eh? This time of the year is so boring.

Well, except for the Padres acquiring Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick for three minor-league pitchers of minimal concern… and playing meaningful games against the Marlins in front of packed houses at Petco Park. Funny, I don’t remember any of this being in the script.

LeBlanc Is Not LeProblem

The Padres picked a bad time to start playing sloppy baseball. The Marlins are a good team, and they capitalized on every mistake. Yet in the wake of Friday night’s loss, the local media fixated on Wade LeBlanc’s home runs allowed while missing the real story. Poor baserunning and lack of timely hitting killed the Padres’ chances in this one.

LeBlanc will serve up his share of long balls; there’s no mystery in that. Where the mystery lies is in Chase Headley killing a first-inning rally by rounding first base too aggressively after an RBI single and getting caught in a rundown that resulted in Miguel Tejada being thrown out at the plate to end the frame. The Padres made Florida starter Chris Volstad throw 39 pitches that inning and got just one run out of it. That can’t happen.

You know what else can’t happen? In the sixth, with the Padres down, 4-1, speed demon Adrian Gonzalez got thrown out at third base on a routine grounder to short. A team that is fighting for a playoff spot needs to exhibit better powers of concentration.

Jerry Hairston Jr. grounding into two double plays didn’t help either, although at least that’s just a failure to execute. The larger point is that LeBlanc is not to blame for poor choices by Headley and Gonzalez on the bases or for poor situational hitting by Hairston. How anyone comes to focus on the two homers LeBlanc served up is quite beyond my comprehension. The message seems to be this: For the Padres to succeed, their no. 4 starter can’t allow any runs.

Excuse me, but that’s garbage. Be perfect and the rest will take care of itself. There you go, Wade; no problem, right?

Tejada Tebetta

Speaking of Tejada, he looked okay in his debut. His first plate appearance in a Padres uniform was brilliant. He fell behind, 0-2, then battled back to run the count full and fouled off several pitches before drawing a 10-pitch walk against Volstad in the first.

In the field, despite my trepidations, he didn’t embarrass himself at shortstop. I still hope that once David Eckstein returns from the disabled list, Hairston gets most of the time at short, with Tejada spelling him and Headley (who made some terific plays at third over the weekend) as needed.

The odd man out appears to be Everth Cabrera, who hasn’t been able to get his game on track all year. My fears of a Carusoesque collapse have come to fruition. If this were still a rebuilding season, Cabrera’s struggles wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but with games actually counting, getting him out of the spotlight and letting him play every day at Portland would seem to be a better option than having him rot on the big-league bench.

On a side note, Marcos Breton’s Away Games has been sitting on my bookshelf for years. Now that Tejada plays for the Padres, I’m running out of excuses not to read it. As soon as I’ve finished Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman, I’ll get right on that.

Defense Might Be DeProblem

Man, these are getting worse… Anywho, in Saturday’s loss, the defense faltered. Well, Scott Hairston did. He clanked a line drive in the seventh and then compounded it by flinging the ball toward the wall, allowing Hanley Ramirez to score all the way from first. Hairston is a good left fielder, but that was the sort of play you see in Little League… and the sort the Padres cannot afford to make.

Kevin Correia gave his usual blah performance. The highlight was an epic home run he served up to Mike Stanton… upper tank in left-center. Guys just don’t hit baseballs there.

Stanton is a beast. Thank goodness he isn’t in the National League West. It’s bad enough that we already have to deal with Justin Upton.

On an unrelated note, I’m glad to see that Clay Hensley has resurrected his career. Hensley was always a favorite of mine, and it’s great that he’s back from injuries and enjoying success in the Marlins bullpen.

Bonus points to the U-T for totally getting small samples. From Bill Center’s article: “All of a sudden, the Padres are struggling.”

A team that won 75 games last year is now said to be “struggling” when it loses two in a row. On the one hand, it’s awesome that Center expects the Padres to win every night. On the other, get real.

Torridalba Torrealba

[Dodges flying vegetables] I had to work Sunday and so only caught the tail end of the Padres’ 6-5 victory. From the looks of it, that was the only part worth catching anyway, so no harm done.

Josh Johnson entered the contest with a 1.72 ERA and left with a season-high five runs allowed. Bandbox ballpark, murderer’s row lineup. Oh wait, it’s Petco and the Padres… so much for that theory.

Yorvit Torrealba continued his torrid hitting. What is up with that guy? How can he possibly hit .324/.390/.416 over any extended period of time? It’s like he’s got that weird Josh Bard ’06 mojo working or something. Not that I’m complaining.

Ludwick came up big in his Padres debut, knocking a pinch single on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth that loaded the bases for Chris Denorfia, who drove home the tying run with a fly ball to right. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a two-run double that put the Padres on top.

Ludwick later recorded the game’s final out, snaring a line drive off the bat of Gaby Sanchez after Heath Bell had made things “interesting” in the ninth. The rest of the bullpen looked like its usual stellar self. Ernesto Frieri struck out two of the three batters he faced; what else is new.

I suspect Frieri will be shipped back to Triple-A Portland when Mike Adams is activated, possibly as early as Monday. It will be great to have Adams back, but I’ll miss Frieri… then again, it could be Ryan Webb, who, after a strong start, got roughed up (6.39 ERA, .308/.379/.365 against) in July.

Either way, a win is a win. Hey, all of a sudden the Padres aren’t struggling.

DePeople Are Going to DeGames

The other thing I wanted to mention is attendance. As in, people are showing up at games again. It’s a beautiful thing:

Mon  G Att/G
Apr 11 23512
May 17 24573
Jun 14 22573
Jul 12 33720

Yeah, July includes three games against the Dodgers, but so does May. And July also includes games against the Astros, Diamondbacks, and Marlins. You can’t tell me people are traveling with those teams. Well, maybe a few ‘Zonies came out to see their team, although with the way they’ve been playing this year, maybe not.

San Diegans seem… excited is too strong, how about “less indifferent than usual.” It’s weird. I don’t even know what to do.

People keep asking me about the Padres. I want to tell them all, “Yep, they’re playing baseball… same as they do every year.” But I remember I’m supposed to be nice so I just nod and smile like an Eckstein bobblehead. Then I flip to first to complete the double play.

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4 Responses »

  1. Frieri is striking out every second batter he faces. I hope he is not sent down before he gives up a run.

    Next ten games are Dodgers, Arizona and Pittsburgh so hopefully a nice 7-3 stretch to get a bit of breathing room before heading to SF.

    Fun part of the year to be in a pennant race.

  2. That was a pretty awesome way to end the article.

  3. You forgot to mention that not only did Ludwick battle back from 0-2 to get a hit, he was the eventual winning run, scoring from first on Hairston’s double, sliding around a throw that BEAT him…and not looking like he had an injured calf.

    Loving the Cardinals organization and the castoffs…Eckstein, Gregerson, Ludwick…solid fundamental ballplayers…hope there’s payback when we meet them in the playoffs.

  4. Hope they send Webb down instead of Frieri. Freieri might be their best pitcher out of the pen right now. He could have the same effect that Meredith had back in 2006.