Weekend Musings

Tim Stauffer hit his spots on Friday night and had good movement on his breaking ball en route to a career-high nine strikeouts. Stauffer appeared to tire in the seventh, when he gave up a couple well-struck balls, including Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer to dead center that accounted for Atlanta’s lone runs.

Ryan Ludwick crushed a ball to the same spot in the home half but it bounced off the top of the fence and back into play for a double. The guys in the Padres bullpen were visibly upset that it didn’t leave yard. No matter: Ludwick drove home Orlando Hudson and then scored on Cameron Maybin’s ensuing triple to left-center.

When Maybin gets his arms extended, he can drive the ball to all fields. And it is such a treat to watch him run home to third on a triple. He and Anthony Rizzo are going to be fun… already are.

Rizzo knocked two doubles of his own. The second gave him seven extra-base hits on the season (against one single), which ties him with the aforementioned Hudson.

Jesus Guzman hit his first big-league home run… pulled a first-pitch fastball off the second-deck facade in left field. After watching him in spring training and at Tucson, I’m convinced Guzman’s bat is legit. His glove is a different story, but he belongs on someone’s bench.

Southpaw Josh Spence made his debut, retiring the side in order to preserve the 11-2 victory. He fanned the first batter he faced, Jason Heyward. The folks back home are excited about Spence, who apparently “was cheered on by a group of about 50 Australians touring with the under-16 and under-18 national teams.” (They were there to see injured Braves reliever Peter Moylan, but it all works out in the end.)

Spence, taken in the ninth round of the 2010 draft, features a fastball that checks in around 83-85 mph and a good slider. He had just 71 1/3 pro innings under his belt before being recalled from Double-A San Antonio, but that 10.6 K/9 sure looks nice.

It’s good to see the farm system producing. Spence won’t be a star, but role players are important… better to develop those internally than overpay for Brian Fuentes.

* * *

Everything went wrong in Saturday’s 10-1 loss. Dustin Moseley, who has been a pleasant surprise this season, wasn’t at his sharpest but pitched reasonably well. Sloppy defense behind him and his own poor control conspired to undermine Moseley’s efforts.

I was a bit miffed when he walked Dan Uggla (.177/.244/.344) after jumping ahead in the count, 0-2. Maybin then allowed Nate McLouth’s single to scoot under his glove (with Uggla coming around to score), which didn’t thrill me either.

Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens didn’t pitch well by his standards — four walks and a homer to Alberto Gonzalez. The latter gives you a sense of how difficult it is to hit the ball out of Petco Park. Not just anyone can do it. Oh, wait… yes, they can.

The seventh was death by paper cuts. Chad Qualls’ line (1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K) looks terrible but doesn’t do him justice. With one out, Brian McCann dropped a bunt single down the third-base line to beat the shift. Freeman then doubled off the left-field wall on a ball that Ludwick should have caught. Uggla hit a routine grounder to shortstop that snuck through the drawn-in infield for an RBI single. A suicide squeeze and ground-rule double followed, turning a two-run deficit into a five-run deficit.

Evan Scribner coughed up four more runs in the eighth, but I missed that. I’d flipped over to some equally stupid thing on TV by then.

* * *

I missed Sunday’s victory, too, on account of a wedding… not mine; Mrs. Ducksnorts wouldn’t appreciate that one bit. It was a cousin who I swear was a little kid, like, just the other day. I have no idea how that happened. Scary stuff.

Speaking of scary stuff (that’s your transition? really?), Cory Luebke must have been doing something right in his first start of the season. Gotta love this line: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Gotta love that he’s in the rotation, period.

Quick notes made while perusing the box score:

  • Will Venable’s OBP is up to .315. That sounds terrible (and it is), but it’s less terrible than it used to be. In 15 games since returning from Triple-A Tucson, Venable is hitting .333/.412/.433. Small sample? Yes. Encouraging? Yes.
  • Chase Headley’s OBP is .393, which isn’t terrible at all. He ranks sixth in the NL, and second in doubles with 21.
  • Chris Denorfia went 1-for-2 with two walks and is hitting .298/.359/.444. I’ve come to appreciate Ludwick’s game, but I have no problem running some combination of Denorfia and Aaron Cunningham out to left field if the Padres can get a Corey Kluberesque prospect in return (better would be nice, but let’s be realistic).
  • Clayton Richard singled as a pinch-hitter. The last Padres pitcher to do that was Randy Wolf, on April 17, 2008, in that stupid game against Colorado that ended with reliever Glendon Rusch striking out in the 22nd inning.
  • There should be a fifth thing, but I can’t think of what it might be.

Next up, three with the Kansas City Royals. Last place in the AL Central meets last place in the NL West. Feel the drama, the tension, the je ne sais quoi…

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19 Responses »

  1. Of everything you wrote here, what I find most interesting/exciting are:

    1. Luebke in the rotation. Agree that it’s great to see him starting and performing well. I’m holding out hope that he’s a budding star.

    2. Denorfia to LF. Sounds great to me. Trade Ludwick for a solid prospect or two.

    3. Cameron Maybin. I’m a big fan. Watching him get better and better over the next few years is going to be great.

    Lastly, it was fun to see how excited the guys (especially Nick Hundley) were for Josh Spence when he closed out Friday night’s game. Spence looked a little bewildered by the whole thing, but I’m sure he was on cloud 9.

  2. Spence’s first three outs came at the expense of three All-Stars, including HOFer Chipper Jones — a memorable debut to be sure.

  3. One of my favorite spring training experiences was finding myself just 5 feet behind Luebke on a practice mound …



    … you can’t get video like that @ Petco :-)

  4. Are Willie Mays Aikens and/or Steve Balboni still with the Royals?

  5. F.B.R. : I actually checked, and neither is on the KC roster. With those legends out of the way, the path is clear for the Padres to extend their winning streak.

  6. Spence’s strikeout rate is crazy with that sub-Leblanc fastball. His breaking ball didn’t seem all that nasty, but the Braves couldn’t touch it.

    From the comments on another post: I’d love to be optimistic about the Padres’ chances based on head-to-head matchups, but I don’t see us having the talent to go 51-32, which only gets us to 85 wins. Even then the Giants would beat us playing .500. We need an 11 game win streak just to get back to even. Beating up on one or two division rivals, maybe….beating up on all four, doubtful.

    It’s great to see the boys playing well against the mini-Yankees and the Braves. I expect there to be 3 or 4 different boys on the roster come Aug. 1, and I expect Hoyer to get blasted for it by some. He has not had many easy or fun decisions to make in his GM career.