Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will Venable and Chris Young save the season

AP/Lenny Ignelzi
Admit it:  after the double steal, you didn't think there was any way the Padres would get out of the first inning without allowing a run.  Not with Byrd, Aramis Ramirez, and X Nady due.  I sure didn't; I figured escaping while allowing only 1 run would be Above Average.

Emphasizing how important that sequence was, Bud Black brought the infield in for the THIRD HITTER OF THE GAME.  When was the last time you saw that?  What is a more powerful testimony to how much the Padre offense is struggling?

Cue the music.  Chris Young escaped on an easy chopper to third, one ridiculously well-placed fastball that tied Ramirez up, and a flailing strikeout of Nady.  Wow.


AP/Lenny Ignelzi
But that was nothing.  Will Venable topped that by robbing Soriano of extra bases leading off the second.  Enberg (live) and Leitner (on the Padre Replay this AM, courtesy of XX1090) both called is as taking a HR away.  From the excellent vantage point of my couch 20 miles away, it looked like Venable didn't go over the fence to catch it.  Sadly Channel 4 never offered a shot along the fence line that could have determined it, and I don't know if WGN/ESPN had a better shot of the catch.  Either way it saved a run; if the ball doesn't clear the fence, Soriano scores on Koyie Hill's double later in the inning.

But THAT was nothing.  Ramirez didn't miss a fastball in his next AB, hitting the high hard one a loong way into LC.  Venable, not slowing down and not giving up, leapt into the stands to make a spectacular catch, robbing Ramirez of a 2-run HR, and ending the inning.

The description above does not do that catch justice.  With the season on the line, playing for the first time in three days thanks to a balky back, in a game they could not afford to lose, nursing a tenuous 1-run lead, what a play by Will Venable.  San Diego should have been down 3-1 at that point, and could have been down 4 or 5-1.  Instead, they added single runs in the 4th and 6th, winning 3-0.

Unfortunately, Atlanta cruised past Florida, while Ian Kennedy made one bad pitch to Pat Burrell which he hit for a 3-run bomb, giving Tim Lincecum all the cushion he would need in a 3-1 Giants win.

San Diego still controls its destiny.  Win out and win the West.  That said, they could really use a Arizona win today coupled with a win over Chicago.  Winning two of 3 in San Fran will be very difficult; the Padres have to beat up Zito Saturday, and will need to find a way to beat either Cain or Sanchez.  Asking them to sweep this weekend series in order to qualify for the post-season is bordering on impossible.  Not with this lineup.

This morning Scott and BR brought up 1996, and the famous Padre 3-game sweep of the Dodgers to win the West.  There is one crucial difference.  That year the Dodgers had qualified for the post-season before the series started; the only question was would the Padres make it in or not.  This year, nothing is decided, and both teams face the very real possibility they could miss the post-season altogether if they lose the series.  San Francisco has a lot more incentive to win than the Dodgers did in 96.  Seeing as the Padres have dominated the season series, I would think the last team SF wants to play in the NLCS is San Diego.  Other than Philadelphia, that is.

Another big game this afternoon.  I should be there, work and weather permitting.  Podcast tonight.

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