Saturday was strange. After scoring a total of five runs over the previous six games, the Padres erupted for 11 en route to a rare laugher over the visiting Giants. Jesus Guzman and Orlando Hudson homered, with Cory Luebke working seven strong innings.
As he was out of the bullpen, Luebke has been terrific in the rotation. In four starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA, holding opponents to a .148/.186/.284 line. Luebke also — and these are small samples — isn’t dependent on Petco Park for his success:
IP ERA H/9 HR/9 BB/9 K/9 Home 33.1 3.24 6.21 0.54 2.70 8.91 Road 29.2 1.82 3.94 0.30 2.73 10.92
Luebke has been good at home and ridiculous elsewhere. It’s taken me a while to hop on the Luebke bandwagon, but I’m there. Of course, I once said the same about Will Venable, so yeah…
Josh Spence, meanwhile, continues his stellar Joe Thatcher impression. Spence’s fastball runs 83-84 mph, but I’ll be darned if he doesn’t keep getting hitters out with it. He is fun to watch.
Speaking of Spence, have you noticed that the farm system is starting to produce? He, Luebke, Tim Stauffer, Mat Latos, and Ernesto Frieri are proving to be useful big-league pitchers. The hitting side is a little behind — beyond Chase Headley, there are the enigmatic Venable and Nick Hundley… I wouldn’t mind seeing the Padres develop more hitters, which might be the understatement of the decade.
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If Saturday was strange, Sunday was ugly. The Padres dropped this one, 4-3, in 11 innings. The big problem was that they couldn’t execute fundamental plays when it mattered most.
San Francisco, a team not known for its running prowess, swiped six bases in as many tries. A couple of those resulted in the game-tying and game-winning runs.
Andres Torres and Emmanuel Burriss are fast men, I get that. When they run, that’s just part of their game. But Nate Schierholtz? He was 15-for-27 in his career headed into this one and stole two with ease. Eli Whiteside? He was 1-for-3 in his career prior to a seventh-inning theft that led to the tying run.
The winner came on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by former Padres catcher Chris Stewart that plated Burriss, who set up the inning with a one-out single and stolen base. The Padres guessed right on a pitchout, but Kyle Phillips’ sailed his throw into right-center field, allowing Burriss to scamper to third base and turn the weak-hitting Stewart into an unlikely hero.
The Padres had their chances against Brian Wilson in the bottom half. Wilson walked the first two batters he faced, bringing up Phillips for a shot at redemption. In an obvious sacrifice situation, Phillips got the bunt down, but not far enough in front of home plate to avoid a rally-killing 2-5-4 double play.
After Wilson then walked Logan Forsythe, Alberto Gonzalez grounded out to end the game. Granted, when you send guys like Phillips, Forsythe, and Gonzalez up against an All-Star closer in succession, you have no right to expect victory, but still…
Meanwhile, I’m beginning to rethink my position on Anthony Rizzo, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Sunday’s loss. On the one hand, I’m not sure there’s much else he can learn at Triple-A other than hitting in Tucson is easier than hitting in San Diego (pretty sure he already knows that).
On the other, the kid has a line of .149/.286/.277, which isn’t helping him or the team. Since Rizzo’s last multi-hit game on June 24 against Atlanta, he is 6-for-52 with 22 strikeouts and a .115/.207/.154 line. That’s not competitive in any sense of the word.
Ah, the joys of player development… and great expectations…
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The Padres were outscored, 19-17, in the series, which doesn’t look so bad. It was fun to see the club score 11 runs in their victory, but I would have preferred to see a couple of those unneeded runs applied to Sunday’s contest instead. Too bad it doesn’t work that way.
The Giants, for their part, own MLB’s best record (26-12) in one-run games. The Padres are a bit lacking in that area (13-20), as they are in most areas.
Still, as Giants fans who came here and turned Petco Park into their home away from home this weekend reminded us, San Diego remains a beautiful place to be. Maybe not so much if you happen to root for the actual home team (or have a mortgage to pay), but oh well…
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- The 100 Worst Baseball Players Of All Time: A Celebration (Part 1) (Deadspin). Every once in a great while, Deadspin runs something cool. This is one of those times, but then, I’m a sucker for Bill Bergen references. Part 2 is also available. [h/t BBTF]
- Steve Foucault (Cardboard Gods). And I’m even more of a sucker for Gary Snyder references… Also, it kinda creeps me out how Josh Wilker seems to be inside my head when he’s writing. Some aspects of our life stories are disturbingly similar.
- Revisiting Curt Flood’s Legacy (Baseball Nation). Rob Neyer remembers one of the men who changed baseball.
- Spangenberg vaults to Midwest League (MiLB.com). First-round pick Cory Spangenberg was promoted last week. He isn’t enjoying the same success that he had in the Northwest League, going 1-for-17 in his first five games.
- Minor league ball’s SoCal dilemma (Hardball Times). I wish there were still a team in Santa Barbara, just a short (4 hours each way via Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, but time flies when you’re on a train) jaunt up the coast from San Diego.
- 2011 Pre-All Star Break Grades (Padres Trail). Mike gives out his grades. I would move Aaron Harang, Luke Gregerson, and Ryan Ludwick down a bit; and Cameron Maybin, Luebke, and Chad Qualls up by the same amount. Maybin and Luebke have been fun to watch.
- Redbirds redux? (Inside the Padres). Tom Krasovic identifies the Cardinals as a potential trade partner. Phillies, too.
- Welcome To AAA: Baseball’s Purgatory (619 Sports). John Conniff examines life at the highest minor-league level.
- ESCONDIDO: State budget sinks city’s ballpark plan (NC Times). This is the least surprising news ever, but still sad. Now we get to see young hitters continue to hone their craft in an environment totally unlike what they will face upon promotion.