That was a fun way to start the four-game series in LA. If I believed in statement games, I might be tempted to call this one. But I don’t, so I won’t.
Each individual game is more like a word. The statement doesn’t reveal itself until after the season is over and you know what you’ve said.
Venable’s blast gave the Padres an early 3-0 lead, just after the Dodgers failed to score in the first when James Loney got thrown out at third by Chris Denorfia to end the inning before a decelerating Matt Kemp touched home plate. Headley’s came later and extended San Diego’s lead to 10-2. The best part? It came after Ryan Ludwick struck out following an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez.
The only real downer was Clayton Richard, who refused to throw strikes when given big leads. He walked three batters, and all three came around to score. He also managed to allow five straight singles at one point without giving up a run. That is hard to do.
On the flip side, Richard played a crucial role in the five-run fourth. With Denorfia on first and one out, he laid down a sacrifice bunt in front of home plate. Dodgers catcher Russell Martin pounced on it and fired to second to try for the lead runner. But the ball skipped away and Denorfia raced to third. With second base uncovered, Richard moved up as well.
The home team paid dearly for its defensive breakdown when Miguel Tejada fisted a two-out single to center to give the Padres a 5-0 lead. This forced Joe Torre to lift starter Hiroki Kuroda for a pinch hitter in the bottom half and lean on the Dodgers bullpen for five innings. As reader Marshall C. informed me, this is where the Padres made their move the last time these two teams met, in San Diego:
IP H R BB K W-L S Padres 9.1 1 0 0 11 1-0 1 Dodgers 7.1 10 4 5 9 0-2 1
Not that Monday night’s game was close (six-run lead: great time to let Edward Mujica come in and serve up a solo shot), but I’ve said before that if the Padres are within a run either way after six, I like their chances. Ernesto Frieri struck out three of the four batters he faced (walking the other) to close out the victory. He has fanned 14 of the 25 batters he’s faced this year… and yet, when Mike Adams returns from the disabled list this week, Frieri probably will head back to Portland.
Problems. You don’t know problems.
Game 2 on Tuesday night features Mat Latos and the newly reacquired Ted Lilly. Be there or be elsewhere…