Monday, June 6, 2011

Game Reflections: #59 and #60 vs Astros

The mood in the ballpark the day after a win at home is so much more positive than after a loss.  It's tangible.  It was not so noticeable on Saturday but it was blatantly obvious Sunday afternoon.  Nice to see the Padres carry their road roll with them on the plane for the first time this season.

By taking 3 of 4 from Houston the Padres won their first series of the season at home.  Some thoughts from the weekend's games (which I was happily able to attend):

- Padres scored in the first inning on both days.  Their 2 runs in the first Saturday matched the number of runs they had scored on Saturday at home all season.  Then they jumped on 20-year old Jordan Lyles for 3 Sunday.

- Hunter Pence has got to be in the top 5 of 'best players no one knows'.  He only had 2 hits in the 2 games I saw but hit several balls hard.  Pence left town with a 17-game hitting streak, the longest of his career.

- Chase Headley won't make that list but he is locked in at the plate right now.  He had a single on Saturday and 2 doubles Sunday.  Headley also has a hit streak in progress (15 games).  There's been a mild debate on where he should hit in the order.  With his high OBP and low power numbers I'd begun to think leadoff or #2 were the best spots, however, so long as he's hitting #3 is fine.  He's getting on in front of Ludwick, and that's essential for this offense.

- Logan Forsythe hammered a double in the third inning Saturday to drive in his first ML run.  Well done, kid.

- Aneury Rodriguez pitched pretty well for the Astros but Aaron Harang was better.  Ernesto Frieri tried to make things interesting in the ninth (although in my opinion he got squeezed big time by Todd Tichenor; the 3-0 pitch to Sanchez was a strike, as was the first one to Downs), but Bell recovered in time to strand the tying runs in scoring position.

- The interesting thing about Saturday's game was how many late swings the Astros had.  By my count they hit 11 balls to right (2-for-11 on those balls) off him.  Harang must hide the ball real well, or at least was hiding the ball real well Saturday.  Eric Patterson played very well in RF on the night; I thought he gave up a little bit on one foul ball near the Astro bullpen, but his running catch in the third inning (slamming into the wall) was a big play, as was his throw to the plate in the second.

Good game Saturday. And garden gnomes to boot!

- Ryan Ludwick got applause when he walked to the plate for his first AB Sunday.  It marked the first time I can remember him getting that reception here this season.

- When Alberto Gonzalez got hit Saturday the fans booed.  When Ludwick got hit Sunday they didn't.  Either Saturday's fans were looking for a reason to boo, or they realize the difference between taking a ball off the shirt (midsection) and taking one off the shoulder (on a ball headed for Gonzalez's head). Ludwick got pounded inside Sunday in all his AB.

- After Latos struck out in the second, Astro catcher Robinson Cancel chucked the ball into RF.  Funny.

- Astro 3B Chris Johnson got hit leading off the second Saturday night, then Ludwick and C Rob Johnson got hit Sunday.  Lyles was wild, so I don't think there was intent to retaliate.

- Not in the box score, but Brad Hawpe maed a fantastic play on an errant pickoff attempt by Rob Johnson in the fifth inning Sunday.  Otherwise that ball's in RF and the Astros have (minimum) runners on second and third with 0 outs.  Pence's hit would have then made the score 4-3 and the rest of the game is very different.  Big play by Hawpe.

- Jason Bourgeois is hitting .407.  That is not a misprint.  He's the 4th outfielder on that team.  I'm thinking he's trade bait in July.

- Bourn and Bourgeois are base stealers and they really ran on Johnson Sunday.  Remember the troubles Padres pitchers (especially Chris Young) had a couple of years ago holding runners on?  Seems those slow times to the plate have never quite been corrected.  Some of it might be on the catchers, but to my eye most of it is on slower than average delivery times to the plate.

- Speaking of steals, Rob Johnson stole a base in the sixth inning Sunday.  It's actually his 4th career stolen base (he's also been caught stealing twice).  Johnson's last successful steal was April of last year, off Matt Wieters (FWIW, besides Robinson Cancel he's burned Kelly Shoppach and Victor Martinez). 

The big key in these 2 games?  The Padres played good defense, and they've hit with RISP.  They were 4-for-50 through the first game of the Washington series; they were 21-for-56 going into Sunday's game (where they went 2-for-17.  the .117 average is bad, but the had SEVENTEEN at bats with a runner on second or third yesterday.  Wow).  The law of averages really does work.

Next up is the scuffling Colorado Rockies.  San Diego could be in third by mid-week, and wouldn't that be nice.

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