Friday, April 29, 2011

Game Reflections - #25 vs Braves

Although a couple of days time-late, let's go through Wednesday's game against Atlanta. (Note:  I was under the weather the last 2 days, which explains why no post).

1.  The Padres managed to get the leadoff man on just twice - Orlando Hudson's infield single in the fifth, and Ryan Ludwick's walk to start the ninth.  Neither runner advanced past second.  Bud Black talked all winter and during spring training about being more aggressive on the base paths, but it is hard to be aggressive when there's no one on early in the inning.

It's also hard to be aggressive when guys either get forced at second or erased via the double play.

San Diego also only managed one runner as far as THIRD.  That happened with two out in the sixth.  After Will Venable stole second, Rob Johnson struck out swinging on a full count, ending the threat.

2. Credit should be given to Tyler Hanson for being dominant on this day - 10 strikeouts along with 4 hits (all singles) and a walk.  That said, not every pitcher the Padres have faced this season is Cy Young.  At what point does one draw the line between saying 'oh, that guy was really on today' and 'we just can't hit, and it makes every opposing starter we face look that much better'?

3.  Let's look at the positive out of this game for a moment.  Mat Latos got beat up pretty good in the first two innings (more on the second inning later).  After Brian McCann's double driving in Atlanta's sixth run of the game, Latos retired 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced - 4 by strikeout, 4 via ground ball.  That's encouraging.  Latos has been killed this season by leaving the ball up.  If it clicked after the double that is very good news.

Remember, he struggled last season coming out of the gate.  Only after he got torched by the Marlins in Florida did he right himself and become the dominant pitcher he was from May - August.

4.  Brad Hawpe's error ultimately became the key play in the game.  If he makes the play on Martin Prado's grounder, Latos is out of the inning, the score is still 1-0, and the possibilities are endless.  After the error the Braves went single/triple/double and blew the game open.  Padres fans at the game rode Hawpe the rest of the afternoon, sarcastically cheering after every play he made and booing him after every out he hit into.

Hawpe is struggling.  No one hits .143 at the major league level without struggling at lot at the plate, and I'm sure Hawpe is painfully aware of his trouble offensively.  Booing him won't help.  That said, I completely understand why fans booed him Wednesday.  It is their right as fans to voice their displeasure when players (or umpires, for that matter) aren't performing up to par.  Just don't expect Hawpe to suddenly snap out of it because he heard booing from the normally laid-back San Diego crowd.


Two other items worth mentioning:

1.  The Padres announced Thursday the return of the $5 discount when purchasing Padres tickes online through  From the press announcement:

Padres President and COO Tom Garfinkel made the announcement.

"The $5 online discount originated last year in an effort to increase both affordability and convenience for Padres fans," Garfinkel said. "It was incredibly popular, and our fans repeatedly told us they saw great value in the offer, so we decided to bring it back again for a limited time this year."

The $5 online discount is available now exclusively at, and is valid for all games on all tickets normally priced $13.50 or more. The promotion excludes PETCO Park's All-You-Can-Eat seats, and may not be used in conjunction with other discounts or promotions, including 2-for-1 Tuesdays, presented by Coca-Cola. Go to to take advantage of the limited-time offer.
Yes, a naked attempt to bolster flagging attendance, but $5 off is $5 off.

2.  The Padres Trail Podcast returned last night.  You can hear the episode here, or also through iTunes - just search for either 'SMS_Mike' or 'Padres Trail Podcast'.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Game Reflections - #21 vs Phillies

Looks like someone didn't know where the end of their car was in the MTS lot
While waiting for the fans to disperse a little bit (paid attendance - 40038), some quick thoughts on tonight's game.

Padres were much more aggressive in the first inning than I remember them being recently.  Maybin single, Bartlett triple highlighted the frame.  With a run in, runners on the corners, and Hundley up it looked very good they'd blow Blanton off the mound immediately.  Didn't happen that way, unfortunately, as their hitting funk reared its head again (tap to the mound, fly out, strikeout).

Hoffman HAS to send Bartlett in that situation.  The team is struggling to score runs, send the guy.  Let's make THEM make a play instead of us always having to. (Update:  Ted Mendenhall pointed out during the Padres Post-Game show that some of the blame should fall on Orlando Hudson.  After all, he showed no inclination to go on that fly ball, and had the play entirely in front of him.  I find that an accurate assessment.)

Someday Ludwick will stop swinging at the low and away pitch off the plate.  I hope I'm alive to see it.

Stauffer pitched his rear end off, tying a career high with 7K's tonight.

I thought the ball Pete Orr hit in the sixth was fair live and in person.  Not sure why the umpire hesitated on that call, although he had a better vantage point than I did.  Then, tough luck on the ball Rollins hit, as it skipped through the infield for a single that tied the game.

Gregerson/Adams/Bell - lights out as usual.

Bastardo is a beast. That's two games this series he's come in and completely shut down the Padres.

After Hundley's double to break the 1-1 tie, the Padres managed 2 hits the rest of the way.  Can't do that in a close game and expect to win.

Hawpe's at bat in the eleventh was his best at bat of the night by far.  He finally started laying off the outside pitches he's been waving at.  Disturbing for me to see is that he can't catch up with the high fastball at all. He's been swinging through them all year.  No wonder he's constantly pitched up there by the opposition.

Ludwick's 2 hits in this game equal the total number of hits he had on the last homestand.  Maybe he actually is breaking out of his slump.

Finally, the big decision of the game - yes the game was decided by 1000 little things before Bud Black directed Rollins be intentionally walked in front of Ryan Howard.  Yes Howard had struck out 4 times in this game and (I believe) 9 times in the series.  Howard is too elite of a player to insult like that.  If he'd walked Rollins to face Howard with Gregerson or Adams or Bell on the mound I'd been really OK with it.  But with Cory Luebke - a second season guy who's only been in the majors for 2 months now - that's a tall order.

Still, it reinforced how this is a game of inches.  Howard missed a 3-R jack by about 4 feet.  Ludwick missed catching that ball and ending the inning by about 1 foot.  If Ludwick makes that play - which was very difficult, let me assure you - we're still playing.

Padres try to avert the sweep tomorrow.  Facing Roy Halladay that's a very tall order.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Game Reflections - Game #19 Vs Phillies

Went to 2/3 of the game last night.  We left after 6 1/3 innings (a) to beat traffic, and (b) because you can only sit through so much offensive futility.  Some impressions.

1.  I tweeted last night about 'another SD home game, Padres no-hit through 3 again."  That's not entirely correct.  What is true is the Padres have gone hitless the first time through the order twice, and I've been in the ballpark on both occasions. Including last night's home game, the Padres have gotten their first hit of the game:
  • First inning - twice
  • Second inning -four times
  • Third inning - once
  • Fourth inning - once
  • Fifth inning - once
2.  Last night was an interesting one from a fashion perspective.  I should have taken a picture or some video of the ladies in question, but I walked to my seat behind 4 young women wearing some of the tightest jeans I've yet seen - and platform heels to boot.  EVERY guy they walked past turned around to look, so I guess their clothing choices had the intended effect.

3.  It becomes frustrating to watch our offense routinely unable to either drive runners in from third, or to hit for extra bases.  It becomes even more frustrating to watch opposing teams come in and hit the crap out of the ball.  I'm am beginning to believe part of the problem with the Padres is psychological.  They continually hear about this ballpark and how it is a pitcher's park, and how you can't hit the long ball here.  Whether or not you believe it, it eventually seeps into your consciousness.  Other NL teams don't have to listen to that over and over again about their home ballpark, or about the park they come into.  They just hit; and seem to have better results in San Diego than the Padres do.

4.  This team really misses Jerry Hairston Jr.  How many times did we see him come to the plate last year, with the team down early, and hit a home run or start a rally?  From a perspective with no access to the clubhouse, it seems his leadership helped steady the 2010 Padres.  I don't see any evidence that type of leadership is present on this team.  Every 3 run deficit feels like game over; there's no sense the Padres can claw their back into those games.

Case in point - leading off the fourth Jorge Cantu had a 14-pitch at bat.  He eventually struck out, but it felt like a moral victory.  You know you're offense is struggling when a 14-pitch strike out feels like a victory.

5.  Cameron Maybin flat-out misplayed Ben Francisco's HR ball.  I initially thought he just backpedaled into the CF wall, but after seeing the replay he took a good route to the ball.  It seemed live he had no idea how close to the wall he was when he was trying to catch the ball.  If he jumps that's an out.

Ludwick?  Overran it, but Polanco was out a third and the blue blew the call.  Denorfia?  Looked like he lost it in the lights initially, because he didn't break on the ball at all.

Padres try again tonight - Richard vs Hamels.

I did have a Podcast last night - it can be heard here.  Two errata to correct from the discussion - I said last night was the fourth time the Padres had been shut out, that's wrong; I forgot about their Monday shutout at the hands of the Cubs.  I also said last night was the first time someone other than Moseley had been shut out, and that's also wrong; Tim Stauffer started that same game Monday.  The Astro/Padre game I reference during the show happened on July 2, 2010, and indeed ended 3-0.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Game Cancelled, Padres to play two

From the Padres media relations staff, tonights Padres/Cubs game has been postponed to tomorrow. Weather reports from Chicago are forecasting thunderstorms, rain (probably the freezing kind) and temps in the mid-30s.

Tomorrow will be much better, overcast and a high of 43. Because we must not deprive ownership of gate receipts, there will be a day/night double header. First game at 11:20 pacific time, second game at 4:05.

If there is any problem with the scheduling philosophy as it currently stands, it is the one trip per year to cities outside our division. Any hiccup in the schedule puts teams in a bind. Either they do everything possible to get the games in as scheduled, or they make sure the games are played within the dates scheduled, or risk a losing an off-day later in the season so they can fly back in for one game.

all in the name of the unbalanced schedule. Interleague does not help, but the unbalanced schedule is the culprit.

No word if Moseley will still start tomorrow. I suspect he will.

Last I'm flying back I into town late tonight, so the Tuesday Podcast will be cancelled.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The Padres first come-from-behind win happened on Opening Day in St Louis.  They were not able to do it again until last Wednesday vs the Reds.  Sunday they made it 3 wins in their last 5 games, and two of the come-from-behind variety, with the 8-6 win in Houston.

Before Sunday's win I was sure the only game San Diego would take in Houston was the one JA Happ started, because he's on my fantasy team.  It's been that kind of season so far for the kid.  It was nice to see some other fantasy owner suffer this week as well.

The last 5 games the Padres have scored 3, 0, 4, 3, and 8 runs.  The previous 5 hey had scored 2, 0, 7, 2, and 2 runs.  18 runs the last 5, 13 the previous five.  I'll call that progress, even if 4 of those games were played in the bandbox known as Minute Maid Park.

So it's off to Chicago and the Cubs.

I'll look to make these posts longer as the season goes, and include some actual analysis.  Right now I'm just trying to get back into the blogging groove.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Playing Catch Up

A little bit of free time appeared this morning, so let's play a little catch-up.

First the Podcast has returned! The latest two 30 minute episodes can be heard here and here. With the depth of offensive woes the Padres were experiencing at the time of both shows, I did focus on that. But I did cover other things. Give the 2 shows a whirl.

On Thursday's show I speculated that the lack of run support Dustin Moseley has gotten in his first three starts was historic. Thanks to the good folks in Media Relations with the club, we have an answer. They checked with the Elias Sports Bureau, and
The last time a starting pitcher's team was shut out in each of his first three starts to begin a season was in 2008 when the Detroit Tigers were blanked in each of Kenny Rogers' first 3 starts. Before Rogers, the last pitcher with no run support in his first three starts was Rudy May for the 1972 California Angels

Two times in the last 40 years demonstrates just how rare what has happened to Moseley is. It is a historical anomaly that the last two pitchers hung out to dry like this were left-handed. So it's been over 40 years since a righty experienced this level of no run support pain.

After Ryan Ludwick struck out Thursday night to end the eighth, I thought he and Moseley needed to start a support group to deal with failure. Ludwick could spend 10 minutes bemoaning his loss of hitting ability. Moseley could respond by slapping Ludwick around for 10 minutes, screaming HOW ABOUT SCORING SOME RUNS FOR ME JACKASSES?!?!?!

Speaking of Ludwick, he finally snapped his 0-for-the-season with runners in scoring position with a 2-RBI single in the seventh last night, snapping a 1-all tie. There was a report via Twitter (I believe Corey Brock sent the note) that Ludwick discovered he was too hunched over at the plate, and has straightened up so he can see the ball better. One wonders how long his batting stance has been tweaked, and if that's been the issue with his sub-.200 batting average since coming over from St Louis. If he now goes on a tear with the bat, we will know.

One other thing to consider: Ludwick temporarily snapped out of his funk last year when Bud Black dropped him to the bottom third of the order. This team needs Ludwick in the middle of the lineup; I hope the source of his troubles is not the pressure he puts on himself to perform as a 3-4-5 hitter (and before you remind me he hit in middle of the order with the Cardinals, he had some guy named Pujols carrying the majority of the load there).

More good news: the Padres have won 2 out of 3 for the first time since their first series of the year. They look to keep the momentum going this weekend.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nice Start

Yeah the Cardinals have tortured San Diego over the last decade.  I'm not talking about just the 3 NLDS losses to those guys, where San Diego dropped 9 of the 10 games played.  Since the start of the 2006 season St Louis was 14-4 in Missouri against the Padres.  This includes the infamous rain-delayed Sunday game in 2008 when Colby Rasmus hit a 3-run bomb to stun Heath Bell and the Padres.

Nothing ever seems go to right at Busch.  Which is why winning this Opening Weekend series was so sweet.  San Diego has not won the season series from the Cardinals since 2006, which incidentally was the last time the Padres won a series in St Louis.  In fact the Padres had won 2 series there the last FOURTEEN YEARS until this weekend.  Here's a little tidbit: the last 3 times San Diego has won a series at Busch the Padres have made the playoffs.

I'm not telling the Front Office to start printing those ducats, but that's a nice early sign for the season to come isn't it?

We all know how important Ryan Ludwick is to the 2011 team, and the Padres could not have picked a better park for the season to start off in than Busch.  Ludwick's history there is well-known; if there's one place on this earth to get his confidence high early in the season it's in St Louis.  Ryan's 2 for 10 line might look a lot like last fall, but his 3 walks mean his batter's eye has returned, and he hit several balls hard during the series, albeit it in tough luck (most notably the sixth inning Sunday).

We wondered how the offense would look.  San Diego scored 16 runs in the series.  Yes they got shut out yesterday, but they still scored 16 runs in the series.

Most importantly, the pitchers held up their end of the bargain.  The team limited St Louis to 8 runs total, and held Pujols to 1 RBI (and 2-13 overall).  Dustin Moseley pitched far, far better than I expected he would; he pitched well enough to win, but Cardinal starter Jamie Garcia was just a little bit better.

That's a lot of reasons to be happy with a 2-1 start to the season.  Now the Padres come home to face the Giants, Dodgers, and Reds on their first homestand of the season.  I'll be at the game tomorrow, hope you are too.

Programming Note:  Tuesday's Podcast will be cancelled.  Following the game I have an 8:40 softball game, so there' s no way I'll be in any shape to prattle on for 30 minutes.  We'll pick up again on Thursday.