While the Padres were getting pasted by the Red Sox at Fenway on Monday evening in the first game of what I told a friend “has a chance to be the least competitive series between two baseball teams all season,” I was rewriting an article. Part of that article landed on the cutting room floor, but I think the “deleted scenes” are strong enough to publish…
If ever a game symbolized the Padres’ 2011 season, it was Saturday night’s affair with the Twins at Target Field. Beyond the sheer meaninglessness of a contest between last place teams in the AL Central and the NL West (quick, what are the playoff implications?), there is this: Chris Denorfia led off the game with a triple, and the Padres lost, 1-0.
Getting shut out in a game where your team triples isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Counting Saturday’s contest, it has happened 103 times since 2000. Less common is losing said game, 1-0; still, that has happened 22 times since 2000. The last time also involved the Padres, who beat the Giants at Petco Park on April 20, 2010.
Less common still is losing said game after a leadoff triple. The last time that happened also involved — sing it with me — the Padres. On July 4, 2007, Florida’s Alfredo Amezaga tripled against San Diego’s Chris Young to start the contest. Amezaga never made it home, and neither did any of his teammates. The Padres ended up winning on a walkoff error.
It could be worse: On May 27, 1920, the New York Giants hit three triples and were blanked by Boston Braves right-hander Jack Scott. Going back to at least 1919, this is the only time a team has hit more than two triples in a game and failed to score. Curiously, John McGraw’s Giants finished the season 86-68, while the Braves checked in at 62-90.
There have been 30 multiple-triple, zero-run games in that same span. Nine of those were 1-0 games, the most recent coming on April 25, 1973, when the Baltimore Orioles fell to the Angels despite getting three baggers from Bobby Grich and Brooks Robinson.
Saturday’s contest was decided by a home run off the bat off Danny Valencia, who is hitting .218/.279/.351 as of this writing. Even by the standards of the AL’s worst hitting team (it’s either Minnesota or Oakland, but you get the idea), Valencia is not contributing. And yet, his solo home run was enough to beat a Padres team that led off the game with a triple.
Welcome to their nightmare.
Sunday’s loss was no better… as I said at the time: “The Padres are amazing. Do you realize how hard it is to get beat by Drew Butera?” This was a rhetorical question, but you are welcome to run calculations if you’d like: Butera owns a career line of .188/.224/.280 in 281 PA, which makes him about as dangerous at the plate as former Padres left-hander Randy Wolf.
On the bright side, third baseman Chase Headley (never mind for the moment his throwing error that led to Butera’s moment of glory) is finally blossoming into the Bill Mueller some of us thought he might become after his .291/.389/.434 campaign at Lake Elsinore back in 2006. The home run power hasn’t come and maybe never will, but Headley ranks among league leaders in walks and doubles. His four-hit game on Monday was the third in the span of a week.
While the NL as a whole has seen offensive performance dip from .255/.324/.399 in 2010 to .250/.318/.384 in 2011, Headley’s trend is in the opposite direction, from .264/.327/.375 up to .297/.389/.407. This may seem like a small victory, but when large victories are non-existent, the Padres will take it.
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- The Next Market Inefficiencies: East Asian Talent (FanGraphs). There are a lot of people in the world; many would be good at baseball if they knew how to play.
- Luebke credits Dad for work ethic (Padres.com). The one guy who pitched well on Monday… is also the guy saddled with the loss. And he belongs in the rotation.
- Scouts chat draft (Inside the Padres). Interesting quotes on Cory Spangenberg: “This guy can be a batting title contender… Defensively, he’ll be fine at second base. A lot of people think he’s a little rough at third.”
- How old is Jack McKeon? Let’s look (Hardball Times). The former Padres skipper, now 80, is managing the Florida Marlins again.
- Padres’ Adams: Injury Saved My Career (NBC San Diego). Quoth Mike Adams, reliever extraordinaire: “The only way you can build confidence is if you go through adversity, to get through adversity … I’m a confident person.” [h/t Gaslamp Ball]
- The more things change with relievers (SweetSpot). Christina Kahrl notes, among other things, that “…from 1980 to 1990 teams went from using just over three relievers every two games to two relievers per game on average.”
- Ten Questions with Pat Neshek (U-T). Continuing on the bullpen theme, Neshek is a funky cat.
- Selig rejects McCourt’s deal with Fox TV (SI.com). Our neighbors to the north continue to be ridiculous. Our pals at IIATMS go into even greater detail.
- Gonzo (again) (Inside the Padres). Tom Krasovic notes that Adrian Gonzalez wanted out of San Diego and reminds us that he was going to walk after this season if not traded. Kras also provides useful perspective:
In the big scheme of things, the Padres’ struggles post-Gonzalez aren’t a big deal. This is a transition year for the club. Even with Gonzalez, the Padres likely weren’t going to win the NL West.
Hey, the Padres lost 99 games with Gonzalez in 2008. The man is a great player, no doubt, but he isn’t some magic pill. And I’d rather see him be where he wants to be than go through the motions here. Gonzalez gave us some great years, and his departure gives us hope for the future… whenever that might be.