What’s up with the Padres offense? When they hit the road earlier this month and averaged 7 runs a game on their 10-game swing through Pittsburgh, New York, and Cincinnati, that made a certain amount of sense. But to return home and average 5.4 at Petco Park? Granted, the Mets and Marlins aren’t great teams; then again, neither are the Padres.
Nick Hundley (1.097), Jesus Guzman (.566), Will Venable (.549), and Kyle Blanks (.511) all have SLG above .500 since the All-Star break. Hundley can’t stop hitting triples. He has five on the season, including four in his last 20 plate appearances.
The Padres four-game sweep of the Marlins pushed San Diego into fourth place in the NL West, half a game ahead of the reeling Dodgers. The Padres had occupied last place since July 22, or for about a month.
Speaking of the Marlins, in their seven contests against the Padres this year, they were outscored, 20-1, in the first inning. Former Padres GM and current Florida skipper Jack McKeon was not amused, asking his players, “How bad do you want to be a major league player?” after his team’s loss on Sunday afternoon.
San Diego jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the series finale, on Trevor Hoffman Day, but kept letting the Marlins back into the game. Closer Heath Bell surrendered a game-tying solo homer to former Padres center fielder Mike Cameron with two out in the ninth to deny starter Cory Luebke his sixth win of the season.
Of course, pitcher wins don’t mean a lot in their current state. Guess which of these guys picked up the victory on Sunday:
Player IP H R ER HR BB K WPA Luebke 6.0 3 1 1 1 0 8 .202 Bell 1.1 3 1 1 1 1 1 -.178
Hint: It’s the one whose last name rhymes with “didn’t pitch well.”
But as Hoffman himself reminded us during his ceremony, how the team did is what matters. And the Padres won, so I can’t complain… even though I just did.
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The Hoffman retirement ceremony was great. We would expect no less.
I won’t recap the entire event (Tom Singer does a fine job of that over at Padres.com, and there is video of Hoffman’s press conference afterward), offering instead a few items that grabbed my attention in Section 303:
- When Hoffman strode in from the bullpen to “Hells Bells” along with his wife and three sons, that set the tone. Family would play an important role in the ceremony, as it has in Hoffman’s career and life.
- Both of Hoffman’s brothers, Greg and Padres third base coach Glenn, were there. So was their mother.
- Hoffman’s high school basketball coach came out to offer congratulations, as did his baseball coaches at Cypress College and the University of Arizona.
- A slew of former teammates, including many former catchers of his (among them, fellow Arizona alum and current Padres starter Hundley) and several players from the great teams of the mid- to late-’90s (Andy Ashby, Mark Sweeney, etc.), offered congrats as well. Steve Finley got the loudest cheer, but the ones who got me were the widows of Ken Caminiti, Mike Darr, and Rod Beck.
- Current Marlins Cameron and Clay Hensley, who played in San Diego when Hoffman was here, likewise were part of the proceedings.
- Hall-of-Famers Rickey Henderson and Rollie Fingers made appearances. Seeing either of them is a rare treat. Seeing them together is unreal.
- Former Padres bullpen catcher Mark Merila, whose battle against brain cancer has inspired many (including Hoffman), was there.
- AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson offered his congratulations via the video scoreboard, which was a nice touch.
- MLB commissioner Bud Selig did the same, and people booed, which was also a nice touch.
- The Padres presented Hoffman with a 1958 black convertible Cadillac with license plate “SD 51.”
- And returning to the family theme, the Padres rebroadcast Hoffman’s father, Ed, singing the national anthem at Fenway Park (Glenn played for the Red Sox) for Opening Day of the 1981 season. Trevor lost it, and I think so did the rest of us.
All in all, it was a great day for Hoffman, for the Padres, and for the city of San Diego.