Friday, May 14, 2010

Giant Killers

Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Padres would win the first six games of the season from the Giants, but that is exactly what has happened.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Padres would have the best record in the NL after 34 games, but that is exactly what has happened.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think Mat Latos would beat the Giants twice by a 1-0 score, but that is exactly what has happened.

I don't know if this is an indictiment of my dreams or the Padres are a better team than believed before the season started.

On the Podcast last night we talked about some potential problems the Padres have that could derail this strong start.  The superior pitching (starters due to regress, bullpen perhaps not).  Kyle Blanks' struggles at the plate.  The offensive hole at shortstop.  I also pointed out, however, the Pythagorean record for these Padres is 23-11.  Their actual record is 22-12.  This isn't a fluke, folks - they're playing as well as their record reflects.

Whether it's sustainable or not for the bulk of the season remains to be seen.  Fangraphs' Jack Moore posted today on how wide open the NL is in 2010 - seriously, almost everyone has a shot right now.  Should the Padres come back to earth and play .500 ball the rest of the way, they'll win 86 games.  That might be good enough this year to win the Wild Card.

Some food for thought as we head into our first series with the Dodgers this weekend:
  • San Diego has had a few longer winning streaks against the Giants.  To wit:
    • Seven straight in 1982 (4/14 to 6/27),
    • Ten straight in 1996 (5/1 to 9/16),
    • Eight straight in 2007 (6/26 to 9/16).
  • San Diego has never won the first 6 games of a season series from the Giants, though.
  • Oddly (and as pointed out by Jerry Coleman I believe), both series with the Giants have produced the same game scores:  one game 3-2, one game 5-2, and one game 1-0.
  • Jonathan Sanchez is probably talking to himself.  In his two starts against San Diego this year, he's thrown 15 innings, struck out 15 Padres, allowed 5 hits and 2 runs.  He's lost both games.
I don't know when the last time was a pitcher threw consecutive 1-0 victories against the same team.  I tried to do a search on Baseball Reference, and the Play Index feature laughed at me.  Here's what I did find:
  • Since 1969 there have been 38 games decided 1-0 where the winning pitcher threw 9 innings gave up only 1 hit.
  • Since 1920 there have been 209 games where the visitor threw a complete game and one-hit the home team.
  • Of those 209 games, in only 29 the visiting pitcher threw the one-hitter and won 1-0.
  • It was last done to the Giants at home (albeit in Candlestick) on August 20, 1986, by Don Corman of the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • It was last done to the Padres at home (in Jack Murphy) on August 3, 1983, by Nolan Ryan of Houston.
  • It has been done before by a Padre - the immortal Dan Spillner did it in Wrigley of all places, on June 19, 1974.  It was one of 2 shutouts he threw in a year he went 9-11.
Here's the coolest stat.  The last time a pitcher won a game on the road 1-0, threw a complete game one hitter, and drove in the lone run was June 26, 1955, when the Kansas City A's Alex Kellner beat Baltimore's Jim Wilson in old Memorial Stadium.  Oddly, the #8 hitter that day (catcher Joe Alstroth) doubled and Kellner followed with a single, exactly like what happened yesterday with Zawadski and Latos.

Coupled with his first start against Jonathan Sanchez, Mat Latos has now twice been involved in something this season not seen at the Major League level in at least 35 years.  Yesterday's game was more impressive because it's been 60 years since a pitcher did that.

He's killing the Giants in new and inventive ways.

Padres start a 5 game homestand tonight.  Saturday's game is sold out, and I'll be there.  Get out to the stadium and root on the best team in the NL.  They deserve it.

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