Give the Padres credit for clawing their way to a 7-5 victory on Tuesday night at San Francisco. Don’t give them too much credit, though; only shoddy work from the defense and bullpen made such drama necessary.
Mat Latos pitched well enough to win, but didn’t. Latos owns a 3.00 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break and is holding opponents to a .200/.259/.286 line. His won-loss record during that stretch is 1-2.
Kyle Blanks homered again, which is becoming cliche. He yanked an 0-2 inside fastball from Matt Cain out over the left-field fence. Blanks, you may have noticed, is a strong kid.
Alberto Gonzalez drove in the winning run with a single to center in the ninth. Gonzalez continues to be ridiculous with runners in scoring position (.313/.352/.391). With last night’s RBI, he passed Ozzie Smith and moved into fifth place all time in single-season RBI for Padres whose OBP and SLG are both below .300 (this isn’t really a thing, but humor me):
Player Year PA OBP SLG RBI Garry Templeton 1987 561 .281 .296 48 Mike Champion 1977 546 .271 .286 43 Enzo Hernandez 1974 563 .285 .277 34 Chris Cannizzaro 1969 469 .290 .297 33 Alberto Gonzalez 2011 210 .273 .294 28
Congratulations to A-Gon, who is the first to accomplish the feat in fewer than 450 plate appearances. Way to drive in runs despite not hitting a lick.
Latos, meanwhile, lost his shutout in the sixth when Jesus Guzman made one of the stupidest plays you will ever see a first baseman make and nearly got his catcher killed in the process. With runners at second and third, and no out, the Giants’ Brandon Belt hit a sharp grounder back of first base. Guzman scooped it up and immediately looked home. He then took several steps toward the plate, cocking his arm as if to throw before moving toward first, presumably remembering that his team held a 4-0 lead and it would be best to get the out.
Then, on final approach to the bag, Guzman fired home and completely left Nick Hundley out to dry. Pablo Sandoval plowed into the Padres catcher and the ball sailed past everyone, allowing Aubrey Huff to score from second as well.
It’s hard to get inside Guzman’s head on this play. Either he wanted Hundley to suffer for some unknown transgression or he’s a lousy first baseman. Guzman’s lack of situational awareness was impressive. He had no clue what to do with the baseball, which is something you don’t often see from big-league players.
Still, the Padres held a comfortable 5-2 lead headed into the eighth inning, where things have gotten interesting without Mike Adams. This time, Josh Spence and Luke Gregerson lit the fire before Joe Thatcher and Erik “One Out FTW” Hamren extinguished it.
Did I say things are different without Adams? Here is a comparison of the five most-used eighth-inning pitchers for San Diego in 2011:
Player PA BA OBP SLG BB% K% Mike Adams 151 .129 .180 .207 6.0 27.8 Luke Gregerson 83 .274 .333 .315 7.2 6.0 Chad Qualls 59 .309 .328 .527 3.4 20.3 Ernesto Frieri 46 .231 .326 .462 10.9 32.6 Josh Spence 44 .235 .372 .471 15.9 15.9
What is the opposite of automatic? Manual?
The Padres have won five straight games for the first time all season. They own the second-best run differential in the NL West and need to go 21-11 the rest of the way to finish at .500.
Unlikely? Perhaps. Then again, we’ve seen an 88-loss team win 13 in a row and a 90-win team lose 10 in a row. (As long as we’re waxing nostalgic, I’ve contributed a bit on the disastrous Randy Myers trade to the latest group effort at Baseball Prospectus… just in case you need a reason to be thankful.)
What will happen next? Beats me. You might as well ask Guzman what he’s going to do with that baseball in his hand.