Walter Mencken 10 a.m., July 23
It was easy to sense it was going to be a chilly night at Petco Park, even as the low clouds rolling in early became equally apparent. Cold light wind blew into the press box and onto the field perhaps as early as two hours before the start of the game. Prior to batting practice, there was an optimistic intensity in the clubhouse as Padres players dressed.
When asked if taking the series against the Arizona Diamondbacks was important, Padres right fielder Will Venable said, "Sure. We have a good opportunity win the series, to play a good game before going out on the road. Knowing that the next two series are going to be tough, like they all are, I think this is important."
Venable drove in a Padres run in the first inning, but that lone run didn't hold up as the Diamondbacks came back and beat the Padres 3-1 on Thursday, taking the the series two games to one. The next six games, the Padres go out on the Road to face division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies for three games each before coming back home.
Padres starter Anthony Bass gave up a sharp single to Diamondbacks lead-off hitter Willie Bloomquist to open up the game, but Padres catcher Nick Hundley threw out Bloomquist trying to steal second base on a smart and accurate throw. The Padres scored in their half of the first when center fielder Cameron Maybin led off with a triple and then Venable plated him on a single to center. Third baseman Chase Headley then singled to right field putting runners on first and second base with nobody out.
Hopes of further damage then became a wasted opportunity, as Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ian Kennedy proceeded to strike out the next three Padres batters. Another chance to score a runner in scoring position when Jason Bartlett doubled with one out, and Kennedy then got the next two batters.
The Diamondbacks tied it in the fifth inning, Chris Young hit a double off of Bass that Padres left fielder Jesus Guzman poorly played. "Young took a full swing and [Guzman] didn't take a great break on it," said Padres manager Buddy Black after the game, [Guzman] was playing a little bit deep, as he does. Hard charge, just couldn't get there."
That opened the door for the Diamondbacks. Anthony Bass fielded a comeback ground ball off of the bat of Lyle Overbay, and threw out Young at third. Then, after a walk to Geoff Blum, Aaron Hill singled and Overbay scored.
Another fielding blunder led to Arizona taking the lead in the 6th inning, when shortstop Jason Bartlett threw over the head of Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, Bloomquist reached second on the 2-base error. Jason Kubel then doubled scoring Bloomquist. The Diamondbacks then added an insurance run in the eighth inning on a home run off of reliever Andrew Cashner, his first hit given up in four innings this season.
With the loss, the Padres fall to 2-5 and have dropped two consecutive series at home to open the season.
Mark Kotsay played in a game at Lake Elsinore on Wednesday evening, going 0-4 but feeling no effects from the strained calf he's been rehabilitating. "I feel great and at this point I'm eligible to come up on Monday and that's the schedule. Calf feels good," Kotsay said before Thursday's game. Manager Bud Black indicated there might be another minor league start in the works for Kotsay between Thursday and Monday, possibly with AAA Tucson who will be in Colorado during that time. The Padres are scheduled to play the Colorado Rockies on Monday, making that possibility convenient.
Friday, the Padres begin a three-game series against the Dodgers. Game time is at 7:05 if it holds up, as rain is in the forecast. The Padres Clayton Richard will face Aaron Harang of the Dodgers. The game will be shown on Cox Cable or DirecTV, or listen via radio on XX1090 AM. Time Warner doesn't seem to much care that they are losing subscribers to DirectTV at this point.