The Padres took round 1 Friday night in San Francisco. I still marvel at the fact that a team given no chance in March is fighting for a playoff berth come the season’s final weekend. Whatever the outcome, 2010 has been an unqualified success for the Padres. Anyone who says otherwise is rewriting history.
Game 160 was a microcosm of the entire season. The Padres jumped out to an early lead, then hung on for dear life and hoped to catch a break.
You Can’t Raze the Cubs, but You Can Raze Cain
The lead (6-0 at midpoint) came courtesy of home runs from Ryan Ludwick, Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Stairs. This may surprise some folks, but Stairs’ qualitative numbers in 2010 are solid by Padres standards. Here are the top five hitters as measured by OPS+:
- Adrian Gonzalez, 152
- Matt Stairs, 116
- Chris Denorfia, 111
- Aaron Cunningham, 109
- Miguel Tejada/Will Venable, 106
The club also managed to do their damage against Matt Cain, who as you know is pretty darned good. He entered the contest with a 13-10 record and 2.95 ERA. That’s a tad better than the entire Chicago Cubs pitching staff (4.26 ERA as of this writing), and yet, as demonstrated by their most recent respective performances against the Padres, baseball is a funny game:
IP H R ER HR BB K Cubs 35.0 17 5 5 1 16 30 Cain 4.0 9 6 6 3 1 4
Worst Analogy Ever
Hanging on for dear life came in the form of staving off a furious attack from the Giants in the sixth. With one out, Clayton Richard served up a double to Pat Burrell and a homer to pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand.
Richard yielded to right-hander Ryan Webb, who walked Juan Uribe (no easy feat) on five pitches. Uribe ended up scoring to cut the lead to 6-4. Luke Gregerson eventually came on to quell the threat by inducing Freddy Sanchez to fly out to center.
The Padres had a great chance to pad their lead in the ninth. The first three batters reached base, but thanks to the first (Aaron Cunningham) getting caught stealing, no runs scored.
For as much as we’ve seen that sort of thing this year, one never really gets used to it. I would chastise the offense for squandering opportunities, but I might as well rebuke volcanoes for spewing lava:
“Stop that, we don’t like it.”
“Well, it’s what I do.”
And yes, I compared the Padres offense to a talking volcano. I don’t get it either, just roll with me.
Help Us, Freddy Sanchez; You’re Our Only Hope
Where were we… ah, catching the break. That came courtesy of Sanchez, who drew a leadoff walk in the ninth (bonus points for jumping “out of the way” of two fastballs that almost caught plate). Aubrey Huff then hit a sharp line drive to right. Sanchez, running on contact, went flying around second and was doubled up after Will Venable made the catch on the warning track. The ball was well struck (Huff flipped his bat like he got it; maybe that confused Sanchez?) but right at Venable.
Whatever Sanchez may have been thinking, there are many people in San Diego who appreciate his kind gesture. In their current situation, the Padres and their fans will gladly take assistance from any source willing to provide it. (They also got some help from the Phillies, who trounced Atlanta, 11-5.)
Another Day, Another Must-Win
With two games remaining on the schedule (assuming no nightmare scenario), the Padres find themselves 2 games back of San Francisco in the National League West and 1 game back of Atlanta in the Wild Card.
- SD @ SF, Tim Stauffer vs Barry Zito, 1:10 p.m. PT
- Phi @ Atl, Vance Worley (?!?) vs Tommy Hanson, 1:10 p.m. PT
Go Padres, go Phillies!