Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five Hundred

If you were panicking before Friday, you're probably exultant today.  Padres sweep those pesky Diamondbacks, right the ship at .500, and are tied for second place in the NL West (two behind San Francisco).

We ought not to get too euphoric, however.  The Padres received significant help from a band of arsonists known as the Diamondback bullpen corps.  To wit:
  • Friday:  Starter Edwin Jackson throws six shutout.  Heilman, Howry, and Gutierrez combine to allow 6 runs in 2 2/3, with Gutierrez being tagged for 4.
  • Saturday:  Kevin Correia was nails, and the Padres led by 2 after six.  Even with that, Norberto surrendered 3 more runs in 2/3 of an inning of work.
  • Sunday:  Padres trail 2-0 entering the seventh.  Friday night Match Light brothers Heilman and Gutierrez combine to allow 5 runs in the inning and lose the game.
Against the Diamondback starters the Padres scored 2 runs in 17 innings.  Against the bullpen?  14 runs in 6 2/3.  Most teams will not have the soft bullpen Arizona currently sports.  The team needs to create more runs early in games, so they can get to the Gregerson/Adams/Bell end and not rely on late inning heroics.

It is comforting, though, to know they have the ability to come back late if they need to.

Some other thoughts:

- David Eckstein's double on Friday night might be biggest hit of the year to date.  Headley's HR 2 hitters later won the game, but Eckstein's hit set it up.  Juan Gutierrez started the first hitter that inning, Nick Hundley, with a curveball, but he started Hairston and Cabrera with fastballs.  Eckstein no doubt noticed that.  Also, Gutierrez's pitches are recognizable right off the bat.  The 'get it over' curveball, the straight as a string fastball, and the slider he can't throw for a strike.  Having seen all Gutierrez's pitches, I think Eckstein was sitting dead red, and when he got it he whacked it.  Awesome.

BTW, I saw Eckstein turn around an inside fastball much like the one he got from Gutierrez for a grand slam while he was playing for the Cardinals.  No surprise he was able to do something similar on Friday.

- Headley got a fastball and hit it a looong way to win that game.  Apologies to Adrian Gonzalez, but Chase Headley is the best hitter on this team right now.

- I like the move dropping Kyle Blanks to sixth, and moving Chase Headley to fourth in the order.  I also liked moving Will Venable to fifth, even though he had a tough series this weekend.

- Paging Scott Hairston:  Stop swinging at the high fastball when ahead in the count with runners on base.  You lead the league in pop-ups with runners on base.

- Today Wade LeBlanc and Kris Benson combined for 15 full counts among the 43 hitters they faced.  And people complain about the length of Yankees/Red Sox games.  One hour and 40 minutes to play 5 innings.  I would have either gouged my eyes out, or commenced drinking heavily, if I was sitting at Petco watching this nonsense.

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