Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Game Reflections - #48 vs Cardinals

Before we get to the game, two quick updates.

1.  My friend John did indeed break his arm on Sunday.  His surgery to repair is later this week.  Please keep him in your thoughts and/or prayers.
2.  There will be no Podcast tonight.  Odds are high I will still be at work and unable to get to a phone.  Next Podcast will be Thursday.

Good game last night.  Tough loss for the Padres.  I mentioned over at my other site not to expect San Diego to lay down for St Louis in this series.  The team meeting after Sunday's game suggested a refocusing of effort by the Padres last night.  The surprise demotion of Will Venable to AAA Tucson and call up of Blake Tekotte from AA San Antonio I'm sure shook up the locker room as well.  To my eye they looked a little less flat than they did during the Seattle series.

- Pujols hammered the ball in his first at bat.  Unfortunately he hit it to the deepest part of Petco on a cool night, and the ball died on the warning track.  AP yelled at the ball as he was headed up the line, something I don't remember seeing him do before.  I guess we know now the homerless drought was at least present in his conscious mind.  His collision with John Jay at first after Cameron Maybin caught the ball elicited laughter from the crowd, as you might expect.

- Rasmus' catch robbing Ludwick of the HR was very cool to see in person.  He timed his jump perfectly.  Ludwick also has the best 'you gotta be sh**ing me' face in the game today.

- Initially I thought Hawpe was an idiot for not taking third on Headley's ground out to second in the second, but on the replay it was not clear if Schumaker could catch that ball in the air or not.  Hawpe did the right thing by freezing.  If it got past the Cardinal second baseman Hawpe easily makes third anyway.

- The Cardinals made a late pregame change, switching Berkman to left and John Jay to right.  It worked out in the fifth inning for the Cardinals, as Jay ran down Orlando Hudson's drive in to the gap for an out.  It worked out for the Padres in the sixth, as Berkman misjudged Chris Denorfia's line shot into a double.  Although in fairness to Berkman, judging a ball hit that hard, headed right at you in the OF, is the toughest play in baseball IMO.

- Maybin's bunt in the seventh was exquisite.

- After Mike Adams went 3-0 on Albert Pujols in the eighth I thought we were looking at one of those unintentional/intentional walks.  Then Pujols swung at a 3-0 pitch (which was a breaking ball, but right down the middle) and missed it.  The 3-2 pitch was borderline, but home plate umpire Jim Joyce had been calling that pitch a strike consistently the entire game.  Give Joyce credit for letting Pujols vent and not reacting.  I don't know what LaRussa said to get run, but it must have been a doozy.

- The difference between the 19-29 Padres and 29-20 Cardinals was evident in the bottom of the seventh and top of the ninth.  The bottom of the seventh saw the Padres put runners on first and third with 0 out.  They got one run on Jorge Cantu's sac fly, but that was it.  The Key AB was Hudson's weak ground ball to Pujols that caught Headley off third.  Having no real bench presence behind Cantu did not help either.

In the ninth, Schumaker took a chance trying to stretch his hit into a double and beat it.  Replays showed he was indeed safe by an eyelash.  Then Jose Oquendo aggressively sent Schumaker to the plate on Descalso's single just past Hudson.  It reinforced something I noticed during the Seattle series, too:  opposing teams are very willing to test the Padre outfielders' arms.  Seattle took several extra bases on soft singles.  The Cardinals did the same last night when it counted.

That and STL got clutch hitting when they needed it, something San Diego has struggled to do at home all season.

Aaron Harang has been solid all season at home for the Padres.  He matches up Kyle McClellan, who has pitched better as a first-year starter than anyone could have reasonably expected going into the season.  San Diego has its work cut out for it again tonight, as it tries to snap this 4-game losing streak.

And tries to score more than 2 runs for the first time in a week.

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