Really? Is this how it’s going to be? I guess a pennant race isn’t complete without at least one irritating stretch.
Welcome to it.
The Padres came out strong against Arizona lefty Joe Saunders on Monday night, with Miguel Tejada launching a first-inning bomb to left-center. They had a 2-0 lead before Saunders even recorded a single out. Twenty-seven outs later, the Padres still had those two runs.
They had plenty of chances against Saunders and hit some balls hard. Heck, after Tejada’s home run, Adrian Gonzalez singled and Chase Headley tripled. The Padres didn’t score, thanks to Ryan Ludwick rapping into a 6-4-3 double play between those two events.
Wade LeBlanc gave up the lead in the bottom of the first, serving up a two-run double to Miguel Montero and a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds. The latter came on a 0-2 pitch that caught way too much plate.
Reynolds launched a second blast in the third. LeBlanc again jumped ahead, 0-2. This time, though, he missed with three straight pitches to run the count full. Reynolds fouled off LeBlanc’s next offering and then went deep.
The lesson here is when you’re ahead 0-2 to Mark Reynolds… wait, there is no lesson. He’s just real good.
So is Stephen Drew, but not as good as LeBlanc has been making him look this month. In fairness, everyone has been making Drew look good this month. Dude is hitting .315/.388/.649 in August, with 8 of his 12 homers coming in the proverbial dog days.
Dog days? For a team that’s 24 games out of first place? I hate teams that have nothing to lose. It’s like facing the Padres last year. You think it’ll be easy and next thing you know, it is easy, but not in the way you’d envisioned. No joke: I’m glad the Padres only have two more games left against these guys.
LeBlanc was awful again. He’s a good pitcher, but finesse lefties have little margin for error. When he’s off, he’s really off. Six of the last 62 batters LeBlanc has faced have taken him deep. That is a problem.
Also, how does Chris Denorfia get picked off first with two out in the fourth and his team down, 6-2? The Padres haven’t been winning all year by being more talented than everyone else, they’ve been winning by playing smarter baseball. That wasn’t smart baseball.
On the bright side, Tim Stauffer pitched well. I wouldn’t mind seeing him make a start or two down the stretch. Ken Rosenthal mentions that Baltimore’s Kevin Millwood might be another option. My only issue there is that Millwood stinks. I’d rather see Stauffer, Cory Luebke, and (dare I hope?) Chris Young get some looks. Young starts tonight for the Beavers at Reno. I’m not holding my breath, but stranger things have happened.
Meanwhile, the Rockies beat the Giants to keep San Francisco five games back of the Padres. That’s great, except Colorado is now just seven games back. Have I mentioned that the Rockies make me nervous? Between their weird September mojo and the fact that they remain the most talent-laden team in the division… look, can we just start the playoffs now? Is that so much to ask?
Then again, the Padres are playing meaningful games in September. There’s no way to put a positive spin on five straight losses, but I will say this: 76-54 looks a lot better than 55-75 (2009) or 48-82 (2008). Sure, it’s more stressful at times, but who wants to be fighting for that 49th win right about now?