Did you expect a big finish on Sunday? I didn’t, although after Saturday’s near miss, maybe I should have. If Hunter Pence doesn’t make that sprawling catch of pinch-hitter Nick Hundley’s drive to lead off the ninth, maybe the Padres come back against a shaky Brandon Lyon, who tried his best to cough up the lead.
As for Sunday, let’s be honest; the Astros helped. A lot. Three singles, three walks, and an error in the decisive eighth inning? Not exactly the stuff of legends, but we’ll take it.
Due to a variety of circumstances, my viewing of the series was scattered. So, therefore, shall be my observations:
- After three starts, Aaron Harang is looking great. If he stays healthy, he’s a better pitcher than Jon Garland, but betting on Harang to stay healthy isn’t exactly a safe investment. Still, I’m enjoying it while I can.
- Alberto Gonzalez and Eric Patterson will swing at anything. They took some ugly hacks on Saturday, each fighting off pitches that almost hit them. I don’t mind a guy expanding the zone a little if he sees something he can drive, but yuck.
- In the sixth inning of Saturday’s game, Brad Hawpe struck out swinging against Nelson Figueroa, who fed him an assortment of junk. Not that I’m the first to notice this, but the problem with Hawpe is that because he can’t catch up to big-league fastballs, he has to start his swing very early, which makes him susceptible to anything that isn’t a fastball. Welcome to Lunge City, population you.
- Mat Latos hasn’t quite shaken those command issues he experienced this spring. He’s allowed three homers — to Johnny Gomes, Chris Heisey, and Chris Johnson — in two starts. This is hardly cause for alarm, but those aren’t great power hitters and two of the home runs — to Heisey last week and to Johnson on Saturday — came on absolute meatballs.
- Perhaps more remarkably, Latos managed to walk Johnson on four pitches in his next trip to the plate. That was Johnson’s second walk of the season and first four-pitch walk since September 24, 2010. The guy makes Kevin Kouzmanoff look like Dave Magadan. There are two active big-league hitters (min. 400 PA) with worse SO/BB ratios than Johnson’s 6.17: Miguel Olivo (6.43) and Brandon Wood (11.77).
- Jorge Cantu’s first Padres homer on Sunday was fun and timely, always a good combination.
- Cantu and Chris Denorfia both made fine defensive plays in the game as well. I’ve compared Cantu’s defense to the music of Pavement in the past, but sometimes “Cut Your Hair” happens despite one’s best efforts and there is no explaining it.
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Meanwhile, down on the farm, there have been some impressive offensive performances in the early going. Here are a few:
Player Age Lvl Pos PA BA OBP SLG BB SO Rnk James Darnell 24 AA 3B 44 .514 .591 .771 8 1 4 Jaff Decker 21 AA LF 52 .366 .500 .854 11 9 1 Beamer Weems 23 AA SS 44 .421 .465 .684 3 7 - Anthony Rizzo 21 AAA 1B 49 .378 .429 .689 4 9 6 Logan Forsythe 24 AAA 2B 44 .306 .432 .667 7 11 13 Blake Tekotte 24 AA CF 47 .359 .468 .590 7 8 20 Jonathan Galvez 20 A+ SS 41 .375 .488 .563 6 8 16 Edinson Rincon 20 A+ 3B 42 .333 .429 .556 6 10 15
Rnk is my preseason ranking. You know about most of these guys, but keep an eye on Weems. Like most of San Antonio’s hitters, he’s playing over his head right now, but if he can retain any semblance of offensive skills, he could prove useful. Dude is a legit shortstop.
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On another note, friend of Ducksnorts Jonah Keri is in town on Tuesday. He’ll be appearing at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park to promote his book, The Extra 2%. The event starts at 11 a.m. and is free to the public, so get out there and listen to a smart guy talk about baseball.
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The Padres head to Chicago for a three-game series against the Cubs starting Monday evening. Don’t mention 1984… or the war.