Two Is More Than One

I finally made it to a game Tuesday night. About time… I get cranky when I can’t get out to the ballpark, and it had been way too long.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’m always cranky.

The win helped. It’s a shame there weren’t more folks to witness it with me, but I guess even the Dodgers lose their traveling crowd at some point. It didn’t take much effort to drown out the Dodgers fans, which was sort of gratifying but mostly just sad.

Mat Latos? I’ve run out of superlatives. After the Johnny Wholestaff game on Monday, the Padres needed him to work deep into the game and he did.

Good thing, because Monday’s hero, Mike Adams, had nothing when he came in to replace Latos in the eighth. Adams, who threw 27 pitches the night before, served up a leadoff double to Scott Podsednik Jamey Carroll. The next batter, Jay Gibbons, hit a ball to left center that Chris Denorfia dove for and caught as it was tailing away from him. Denorfia has struggled at times in center field, but on this night, he denied Gibbons and the Dodgers their game-tying single.

Heath Bell entered with one out in the eighth to work a rare (by current standards) five-out save. Bell seemed a little gassed from the previous night as well. He had needed 18 pitches to close out that victory, and although the velocity was fine, he seemed to be overthrowing the fastball and missing badly with location. I kept screaming for him to drop the curve ball and he did, to great effect. When you throw your fastball as hard as Bell does, hitters have to prepare themselves for it and they can look foolish when something else arrives. Bell made a nice adjustment and sealed the deal.

The downside is that Bell threw 31 pitches in the process. Presumably he’s unavailable Wednesday, and I’m not so sure about Adams. That leaves… Luke Gregerson? No, thanks. Maybe Ernesto Frieri? Or here’s a crazy thought: Score a boatload of runs so you can afford to send Edward Mujica into the contest.

During the game, the Padres congratulated Trevor Hoffman and showed video of him earning his 600th career save for the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the evening. He got a nice round of applause from a crowd that will never forget him, but it was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was glad to see Hoffman so honored. On the other, it seemed kind of sad that the Brewers would trot their former closer out there solely for the sake of letting him reach a milestone. I guess they don’t have much else to play for, so why not.

Ryan Ludwick continues to be all kinds of lost at the plate — shades of Greg Vaughn in 1996. Friend of Ducksnorts Steve Poltz put positive voodoo vibes on Ludwick after Monday night’s victory but they haven’t kicked in yet. These things take time.

Adrian Gonzalez showed a great approach in his first two trips to the plate against Clayton Kershaw, taking the tough southpaw to the opposite field both times. The second one, which was reminiscent of Keith Hernandez, drove home Denorfia with what proved to be the winning run.

A laugher would be nice at some point, but wins are good. The Giants aren’t going away and neither are the Rockies. This is fun, right? Sure beats thinking about next year.

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9 Responses »

  1. Monday night, Adrian dropped a bunt down the 3rd base line leading off the 4th (5th?).
    Eventually, Furcal got over there to pick it up – but Adrian was already standing on 1st base, talking to the coach. ;-)

    The expression on Furcal’s face was priceless – complete and utter disgust.

  2. On the other, it seemed kind of sad that the Brewers would trot their former closer out there solely for the sake of letting him reach a milestone. I guess they don’t have much else to play for, so why not.

    Sounds like someone’s forgotten what it’s like to be a loser.

  3. I was thinking of the Greg Vaughn comp, too. But Greg didn’t return to form until ’98, after a pretty miserable ’97. I don’t want Ludwick repeating that part of the story.

  4. Minor quibble – Adams gave up the leadoff double to Jamey Carroll. Bell struck out Podsednik for the second out of the eighth.

    On another note, what do you think of Kenley Jensen? Interesting story having been converted from catcher a year ago. He has embarassed the heart of the Padres order two nights in a row. I am mildly suprised that the league hasn’t caught up with him yet since I haven’t seen a fastball with that little movement since Marc Kroon.

  5. I know Black moved Ludwick in front of Gonzalez to see if that jump starts him, and I know it’s only been 4 games since that happened. As you’ve chronicled, he’s been killing us at the plate for some time now no matter where he hits. When does Black move Ryan down to #6 or #7 in the order?

  6. It’s always nice to make it out to the old ballyard, especially for a win. Going to see a game on Saturday… was looking forward to Latos, now it looks like I’ll see a Correia/LeBlanc/Stauffer/Bullpen Day. That’s not as exciting.

    If someone would have said Tejada would have been a better acquisition than Ludwick, I would have laughed at them. Funny how those small sample sizes work out.

  7. I think Bud has lost faith in the bullpen. Last month, he would have pulled Latos after 6, when he was in the mid-90s on his pitch count, but trusted Mat over Luke in the 7th last night. While it definitely seemed like Adams didn’t have it, Bud had a way quicker hook with him than last month, too. He can’t play every game from here on out like its game 7 of the World Series; the arms just aren’t going to last.

    I agree, though, that what this team needs is a laugher, both to rest the bullpen and help their psyche.

  8. Geoff… continued great reads! I just wanted to thank you for consistently pointing out the fact that we could be plopping in boatloads of rookies at this point to evaluate for next year. Just when I’m starting to get anxious about the team, I’m reminded of that fact, and a nice, relaxing exhale spontaneously escapes. Gracias!

  9. @Ray: No, I’m just sad that Hoffman is getting his save opportunities out of pity and not based on merit.

    @Druceratops: Thanks, it’s been fixed… I can never keep my pesky slap hitters straight. As for Jansen, the kid has a live arm. I suspect that his lack of movement is offset somewhat by the funky delivery — that fastball cannot be easy to pick up coming out from behind his ear… reminds me a bit of Troy Percival, another converted catcher.

    @Mike: Well, Ludwick sat today. With luck, the time off will help, because we could use his bat. I don’t know that Black will tinker too much with the lineup. Even though Ludwick has struggled, I’m sure he’ll continue to get chances… he’s a better hitter than this.

    @Adam: And how about Gregerson coming through tonight? I need to talk trash about these guys more often.

    @Chris: Thank you, sir; glad to be of service!