Padres and Hundley Survive Guzman’s Brain Cramp

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.

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10 Responses »

  1. And like that, we get our first glimpse at the Jesus Guzman who three teams deemed unworthy of a chance.

  2. Seriously though, that was Ruben Rivera running back-and-forth over second base bad.

  3. That’s why I like Guzman in LF and not 1B. Just have him and Blanks switch positions.

  4. Jesus’ brain cramp aside (I know it’s hard to put aside), it was quite something to hear the Giants TV announcers say, without a trace of irony, that the Giants didn’t stick with Guzman because they couldn’t find a position for him to play. This from a team that fielded 5 out of 8 position players hitting under .238 last night. (They said this before his error, mind you.)

  5. It was a dumb play by Guzman, but did it really change the outcome of the game? Say he gets the out at first, Sandoval still scores, at that point it’d be 1 out and runner on 3rd and next hitter flies out which would have scored the run anyways.

  6. Isn’t the general take on Guzman from baseball folks that he stinks out loud on defense? I think he just proved why. I haven’t seen work like that since Al Oliver avoided coming in on the ball for the Dodgers in left field. He’s got an arm like Steve Gravy. Perhaps he can be hidden in the outfield occasionally to get his bat in there..