Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moping and the LCS

With the off-season in it's third full week, there's little to do on the San Diego front besides wait for Chris Young to be released, and the start of the Padres vs Adrian Gonzalez contract squabbling that will end with Gonzo making $22M a year in Boston.

So we're left with watching the LCS series on Fox and TBS.  After 5 played games, I have some thoughts.
  • To this point Texas is a much better team than New York.  Think about this:  the Rangers are one bad seven hitter sequence away from leading this series 3-0. I didn't think they'd be up 2-1 at this point, and I suspect most folks didn't either.
  • It's funny to see the Yankee series relegated to TBS.  And satisfying too; at least now the country will be treated to some of the MLB's other good teams.
  • This Phillies/Giants series is going seven.  Neither team is hitting much right now anyway, and the pitching both have has been dominant.  I just don't see either team pulling away, unless the Giants start to activate and start Barry Zito.
  • You think Cody Ross is going to see any more inside fastballs this series?
  • The Yankees series hopes rest on AJ Burnett's right arm.  Good luck, New York.  Although I say that knowing Burnett will probably throw a 2-hitter over 7 innings tonight.
I'll probably do a Podcast again Thursday.  I'll have an update here Thursday AM either way.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We Pause Briefly to Bash the Chargers

Rams 20, Chargers 17.  I am a Ram fan from way back, and sit in my Jack Youngblood jersey as I type this.

So HAH!  San Diego has never beaten the Rams.  Ever.

Oh and those of you scratching your head on how the Chargers could lose to a team that was 1-15 last year, and lost 44-6 to Detroit last week?  Here's why.  The Chargers cannot win on the road, and aren't as good as their rankings.  They aren't losing to inferior teams anymore - they are losing to teams as good as they are. 

Harsh?  Yep.  But consider:
  • Lose once to a bad team (KC) it's a fluke.
  • Twice (SEA) it's coincidence. 
  • Thrice (OAK) it's a trend.
  • Four times (STL) you are what you are.
No one will confuse those four teams with Super Bowl contenders.  The Chargers shouldn't be considered a contender either.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How would the Padres have done?

Day 1 of the playoffs is in the books.  Philadelphia's Roy Halladay no-hit the Reds 4-0.  Since both those teams could have been Padres opponents, I thought:  How would the Padres have done?

1.  Would Halladay have no-hit San Diego?  With the stuff he had last night, Roy Halladay would have no-hit the '27 Yankees.  More to the point, here are the Reds and Padres relative NL rankings in various hitting categories:

  • Average:  Reds (1st), Padres (15th)
  • OBP:  Reds (2nd), Padres (13th)
  • Slugging:   Reds (1st), Padres (15th)
  • ISO:  Reds (2nd), Padres (15th)
  • And of course, wOBA Reds (1st), Padres (15th).
So if Roy Halladay could no-hit the Reds last night, who were in the top 2 in most offensive categories (including nose hair), the Padres would have gotten clobbered.  And probably had a perfect game thrown at them.  Can't you see Ryan Ludwick flailing wildly at all those 'palm balls' Halladay flicked up there?

2.  Would the Padres have no-hit Cincinnati?  A little more difficult to answer.  The game would have been here, so that's an advantage for the Padre starter.  Who would have been the Padre starter?  Chris Young would have pitched the Monday play-in game, so Bud Black's options were Jon Garland on extra rest or Clayton Richard on full rest (let's eliminate Tim Stauffer and Mat Latos from consideration; no way they start Game 1 on short rest).
  • Neither Garland nor Richard have thrown a no-hitter in their careers to date.
  • Garland has 2 post-season starts; he allowed 4 ER in 16 IP (ERA:  2.25) as a White Sox in 2005.  Richard has never started a post-season game.
  • The Reds hit .275/.335/.437 against RHP and .265/.346/.434 against LHP.  That's known as a wash.  No advantage there.
  • The Padres lost both of Richard's starts against Cincinnati this season.  The Padres were 4-2 against Cincinnati overall.  Garland's teams are 2-2 in his career when he started against the Reds.
So probably Garland.  Garland would have 6 days rest between starts (last start 30 Sept).  He is 14-16 career with a 4.86 ERA when starting on that much rest.  He did throw a 4-hitter at the Cubs in that 30 Sept start, but it was a wet cold day in San Diego, which probably helped him out.  If pinned into a corner, I'd say no, the Padres don't no-hit Cincinnati.

Of course, it doesn't matter.  San Diego lost last Sunday.  Which meant I had to do this today.

Monday, October 4, 2010

That's A Wrap

It seemed too much to ask, for the Phillies to take a third game from Atlanta, and for the Padres to sweep San Francisco.  Turned out, it was.

The Phillies third and fourth stringers put up a pretty valiant effort, trimming a 6-run deficit to 1 with two out in the eighth, but it was too much to overcome.  It didn't matter, because the Padres controlled their own destiny on this day.  Win and you move on.  Lose and you go home.

Losing 3-0 in San Francisco isn't shameful. What will haunt these Padres, other than the 10-game losing streak, is all the men they left on base Sunday.  Ludwick striking out in the second with two on and two out.  Torrealba's double play grounder after the first two men reached to start the sixth.  Tejada striking out with two on and two out in the seventh.  Latos pitched well enough - 2 runs allowed should not be enough to kill a team - but on this day it was.

The Padres have some major decisions to make this off-season.  No one wants to see a 90-win team dismantled, but there's a very real possibility that might happen (to wit:  Chris Young, Jon Garland, and Gonzo account for $20.75 mil in payroll if the Padres pick up all their options).  Then there's the question of Tejada and Ludwick - do they return for 2011?  Does Heath Bell come back?  What of Kyle Blanks?  And so on.

We will go into those questions over the coming weeks.

For now, revel in the season that was.  Heck, I thought 82-80 and third place was optimistic as a prediction.  They exceeded that, kept us riveted all season, and fell just short.  It was a lot of fun, even if the final result is not one we wanted, and I for one can't wait for 2011.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

That's Two

Headaches felled your correspondent this afternoon, meaning I didn't watch the game.  So, at 4pm, I groggily reached for my iTouch.  Initially I read the score SFO 4, SDG 2.  Oh, well - at least we tried.

Then I realized it was San Diego that had won 4-2.  And, Philadelphia was beating Atlanta 5-0 (they would eventually win 7-0).  Holy cow.

Ryan Ludwick's home run in the second inning Friday night might be the biggest hit of the season for San Diego.  It snapped their scoreless inning funk at 13, gave them the early lead, and I think both relaxed the Padres and put pressure on the Giants.  Who would have thunk that, given how much Ludwick has struggled since the trade.

Tim Stauffer was great.  But a one hitter through six?  Unbelieveable.  Padres scored enough early and held on.  Kudos to Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams, and Heath Bell for slamming the door.  Well, partial credit goes to Jose Guillen for swinging aggressively and rolling into the 6-3 DP to end it.

I thought after the game "Gee, I think Gregerson, Adams, and Bell have pitched 3 consecutive games.  Will they be available Sunday?"  Actually it's more than that - Adams has worked in five straight games, Bell and Gregerson 4.  This article in the U-T discusses the bullpen.  Here's the money quote from Gregerson:
"I told [Darrel Ackerfelds] and Bud (Black) to stop asking me how I feel," said Gregerson. "Let's go. We're trying to win here. It's all hands on deck."
Looks like they will pitch Sunday if called upon.  I love it.  Gregerson's outlook matches mine - they've got all winter to rest if they don't win tomorrow.

San Diego's odds of making the playoffs stood at 7.5% headed into Friday night.  Now they stand at 52.3%. Wouldn't you know it, the season will come down to Mat Latos and Jonathan 'Big Mouth' Sanchez.  How appropriate.  Never going to look back, Big Mouth, once you pass the Padres?  Look in the rearview mirror.

There is no pressure at all tomorrow on the Padres.  It's all on the Giants.  The only thing going for SF right now is they will be part of a one-game playoff they end up tied with someone else.  San Diego can't say that, and neither can Atlanta.  If either team loses while the other wins, the loser is out.  Should make for compelling baseball.

Tear yourself away from the Charger game on your computer and watch the Padres/Giants.  Screw the Chargers.  They suck for the first 1/4 of the season anyway.

Friday, October 1, 2010

That's One

How big was that double play in the ninth?  Thank you Freddy Sanchez.

Padres get it done.  Now they can focus on tomorrow's game.  Philadelphia routed Atlanta, so the Padres gain ground in both races.

Nice to see Ryan Ludwick packed his big bat for this series, even if he struck out 3 times following his second inning HR.  Nice to see the Padres jump all over Matt Cain early to take the crowd out of the game for most of it; they re-appeared in the sixth when San Fran scored 3 to get back in the game, but we were into the strength of our bullpen by that point.

Adrian Gonzalez had a rare bad game with the glove, but I can live with that, especially considering he tattooed a ball for the 3-run HR in the fourth.  Didn't hurt.  Meant Bell had to face the heart of the Giant order in the ninth, but Sanchez sucked the wind out of that inning.

Some noise was made pre-game about Giant manager Bruce Bochy moving Cain up to Friday so they could clinch and get it over with.  Perhaps there was another reason:
  1. Matt Cain 2010 splits:
    1. Day Games - 73.1 IP, 7 HR, 3-4, 3.31 ERA
    2. Night Games - 146 IP, 12 HR, 10-6, 2.77 ERA
  2. Barry Zito 2010 splits:
    1. Day Games - 43 IP, 6 HR, 2-2, 3.77 ERA
    2. Night Games - 153.1 IP, 14 HR, 7-11, 4.17 ERA
Cain was definitely better at night than Zito, and Saturday's game is a day tilt.  I'm sure that figured into his reasoning.

Padre prospects for making the playoffs are noticeably brighter now than they were 24 hours ago.  This team can beat Zito.  Then it's a one-game playoff against 'Big Mouth' Sanchez for all the marbles.  Should Philly sweep Atlanta, and the Padres pull off the improbable, there is no playoff, San Diego wins the division, and San Francisco draws Philly in the NLDS.

Wouldn't that be sweet.

Wet, Gloomy Day at Petco

Work permitted, so I headed down to Petco for yesterday's regular season finale.

Initially weather did not cooperate:

I've been going to Padres games upwards of 20 years, and that's the first time I can remember seeing the tarp on the field.  Exciting.  Seats were soaked, so I skulked with my beer at the top of our section awaiting the wife's arrival.  Which was delayed, because she had inadvertently left her ticket and the parking pass at home (I took the trolley down from work). 

She didn't have to head home, as we can get a reprinted ticket as season ticket holders, which was nice. After some gymnastics to get the car parked - traffic downtown at 4pm yesterday was far, far worse than I've seen it recently - we watched the game from our rain-soaked seats.  Some high (lowlights):

  • I know it doesn't rain much in San Diego, and almost never during the baseball season.  But even so, shouldn't the stadium designers have included a rudimentary drainage system for the low points in each deck?  We spent the game with our feet in 2 inches of water.
  • Why did Yorvit Torrealba try to swipe second in the second inning?  I was buying more beer and turned around in time to see him thrown out by 200 feet.  A catcher should never try a straight steal (unless he's John Wathan), and especially should never try to steal on a wet track like yesterday's infield.  Was there a missed hit and run there?  Did Yorvit look back at the plate as he headed to second?  I need to know.
  • San Diego was no-hit for the last 7.1 innings.  Enough said.
  • I was somewhat surprised Jon Garland left the game in the seventh after only 95 pitches.  It worked out for the Padres, but still I was surprised.  He threw as well yesterday as I have seen him throw in person.
  • There was a noticeable change in the mood every time Ryan Ludwick stepped in.  A 'geez, this guy's terrible, here comes another strikeout' vibe.  Ludwick absorbed a smattering of boos after popping out to CF to end the sixth (with Venable on third, the only Padre to make it that far yesterday).  In the ninth, the fans got up for Tejada's leadoff at-bat, stayed up for Gonzo's, then got quiet, resigned to Ludwick making an out.  Which he promptly did.  It's very frustrating watching Ludwick.  He's trying, but he's in a horrific slump.
In the third inning Aaron Cunningham hit a ball into the stands.  It wasn't a line drive, but it was hit well and had some pace on it.  Although several people tried to make a play, it sailed through the stands and struck an 8-year old boy (approximate age) on the head.  How hard was that ball hit?  It caromed back onto the field.  Immediately people started motioning for the ushers to come over and assist.

Amazingly the blow did not draw blood.  Eventually, EMT's showed up to evaulate his condition.

Count seven rows of seats from the left side of this photo, and look for the bald guy just to the right of the guy in the white t-shirt standing with his arm raised.  That's where the kid was.  You can see it's 30 feet easy from there to the grass, where the ball landed after it bounced off him.

The kid stayed another 2 innings, then he and his dad left.  Some of the fans in that section applauded the kid as he walked out, which was cool.  He looked pretty dazed to me, even 30 minutes later.  I hope his dad found his common sense and took the boy to a doctor for further evaluation.

I'm not a moralist, and I'm probably the last guy to give parenting advice, but hey dads - your primary function when at a baseball game with small children is to protect your children.  Letting your son/daughter get clocked by a foul ball?  FAIL.  Get in the way next time.  I'd rather take a line drive off the balls than see my son struck because I was more concerned with getting a souvenir than protecting him.

The kid did at least get to keep the ball.  Small consolation in my mind today, he might feel differently about it later on.

Padres got shut out, it rained, and a little kid got struck with a foul ball.  Pretty much sums up a lousy day at the ball park.  Oh yeah - for my 20 home games the Padres went 7-13.  Depressing.

It all comes down to this weekend.  San Diego should not focus on winning all 3 games.  They need to focus on beating Matt Cain tonight.  It really quite simple - if they don't win today, tomorrow's game doesn't mean anything.  So focus on the now.

Granted, there is also the very real possibility the Padres could be eliminated tonight, if they lose and the Braves win.  But let's not think about that.  San Diego is 2-0 against Cain this season when he's paired with Clayton Richard.  Focus on that.

It should be raucous in Pac Bell Park tonight.  Hey Padres - Feed off that.  Reach deep inside and stop the tide.