Just returned from tonight's Padres/Pirates tilt at Petco. Some thoughts on the 4-3 Padres loss:
- Great idea by San Diego to honor the military by wearing the camouflage uniforms. The team usually invites all active duty and veterans in the crowd to stand and be recognized prior to the start of every game, and did so again tonight; but the cheers from the 20,456 in attendance were a little louder than normal. The MLB 9-11 logo was also displayed on monitors throughout the ballpark during the introductions.
- Tonight's National Anthem was sung a capella and frankly, it was appropriate to do it that way. We should not celebrate that a man, even an enemy, is dead; we should remember those no longer with us because of the evil that man brought into the world.
- Whatever Aaron Harang brought with him to the mound to start the game, he should forget it. Every ball hit in play by Pittsburgh in the top of the first was a bullet. The Garrett Jones HR was a no-doubter into the RF corner, and Chris Snyder's was hammered out to left. After a half-inning to regroup, he allowed a measly infield single in his remaining 4 innings.
- Brad Hawpe made a nice play on a ground ball up the line off Jones' bat. It was eerily similar to the ball Martin Prado hit on Wednesday that Hawpe missed. Nice to see him make that play.
- Jorge Cantu's HR in the sixth was also smashed. Amazing how when the weather heats up the ball carries better at Petco, no? His 2-run shot cut the lead in half.
- Ryan Ludwick had 2 hits, and both those balls were scorched. His second hit drove in San Diego's third run.
- A little bit of comedy in the top of the eighth inning when both Hundley and Cantu missed foul balls off the bat of Jones (that man again). Comedy because Hundley disappeared into the Pirates dugout, and Cantu flopped over into the camera well. Luckily no one was hurt, and in fairness given where they came down both were tough plays.
- San Diego was mesmerized by an opposing pitcher in their own ball park again. Other than the HR to Cantu, Pittsburgh starter James McDonald scattered 4 hits and struck out 5 in his 6 innings of work.
- The top of the ninth took for-EVER. Frieri walked the first 3 hitters he faced, and Gregerson (who relieved him) walked the first guy HE faced, but thanks to Lyle Overbay being caught stealing after his leadoff walk the Padres were able to wriggle off the hook without allowing a run.
- Some smart aleck decided to start the "whoOP! WHooo" chant when Pittsburgh reliever Chris Resop was warming up, and continued it once Resop entered the game. Eventually most of the ballpark joined in. It didn't hurt the chant that the Padres scored their third run with Resop in the game.
- Pittsburgh has the best bullpen ERA in the NL coming into tonight's game. I had not realized their bullpen had been pitching that well so far in 2011.
- Thanks to consecutive hits by Nick Hundley and Chase Headley, the Padres got runners to the corners with two out in the bottom of the ninth. But Will Venable hit the first pitch he saw to short, and that ended the game.
We've been beaten down a bit both by the Padres slow start and their struggles on offense. I think I re-emphasize the obvious when I say San Diego badly needed last Thursday's day off. Since their attempted ninth-inning comeback on Friday in Los Angeles that fell short, the Padres have started hitting the ball much better. Tonight every starting position player except Cameron Maybin had a hit. That's encouraging. Maybe the days of feeble offense and lots of shutouts are behind us for a while.