Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Padres Manager Buddy Black has said on more than one occasion that his favorite days as a Major League pitching coach and now as a Major League manager are days when a young pitcher makes his big league debut as a starter. Saturday, Joe Wieland filled that role. Buddy might want to re-rank those favorite days a little bit because Saturday probably wasn't one of them.
Wieland was drafted in the 4th round by the Texas Rangers in 2008 and put to work in the minor leagues immediately, and by 2011 he was affixed with the AA Frisco Roughriders, the Rangers affiliate in the Texas League. In late July, Padres scouts took note when Wieland no-hit their own AA affiliate, the San Antonio Missions, where the Missions would wind up winning the league.
The only mistake by Wieland that day was to walk Andy Parrino, who is now on the Padres Major League roster. Parrino was subsequently thrown out trying to steal second base, so even though Wieland didn't notch a perfect game, he got a no-hitter and faced the minimum. In the Padres lineup that day? How about Blake Tekotte, Jaff Decker, and Jedd Gyorko, all thought to become Padres regulars in the near future.
In his minor league career, Wieland has some great numbers. How about 33-19, with a 3.29 earned runs average, with 408 strikeouts against 80 walks? In 2011 alone he was 13-4, 1.97 ERA, 150 strikeouts against only 21 walks. Wieland pitched over 155 innings last season in the minor leagues. With four good pitches, even at 22 years of age, he was the logical choice to take a shot bringing up once that Moseley went down.
It didn't work out so swell for Wieland over the first two innings. When he threw his fast ball, which seemed to range between 90 and 94 MPH, he elevated the pitch and left it right over the plate. The Dodgers pounced on those opportunities early.
In the top of the first, the Padres looked like they caught a break, when Cameron Maybin reached on a throwing error by Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, landing on second base. Chase Headley popped out and then Chris Denorfia laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Maybin to third. Jesus Guzman singled up the middle to plate Maybin. After a half-inning, the Padres led 1-0.
That would be their only run of the game.
Enter Wieland in the bottom of the first. A walk to Dee Gordon, which is always dangerous, followed by Tony Gwynn, Jr. sacrificing Gordon to second. Matt Kemp then homered on a Wieland fastball up and right over the plate and the Dodgers jumped on top 2-0 quick.
Andre Ethier followed with another homer, another pitch in the wrong place, and then James Loney doubled. Jerry Hairston, Jr. then singled, putting Loney at third with still only one out. Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly scored Loney, and the Dodgers led 4-1 after just an inning.
The second inning wasn't so stellar either for Wieland. After retiring Dodgers starting pitcher Tedd Lilly and getting Dee Gordon to pop out, Wieland gave up a single to Gwynn and then left another pitch up for Kemp which was promptly belted out of the ballpark for Kemp's second home run of the game. After two innings, the Dodgers led 6-1 and that's where it stayed.
All of Kemp's league-leading 5 home runs are a result of Padres pitching.
If there is good news for Joe Wieland and the Padres, it is that Wieland did not allow another hit through the fifth inning when he was then pulled for a pinch hitter. If there is bad news for the Padres in general, it is that Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, with a fastball that tops out in the low 80's, only allowed two hits through seven innings, the other coming from Chase Headley in the sixth inning.
Perhaps Joe Wieland can be given a pass. Perhaps he had some first-time jitters. Maybe he was just trying too hard for a couple of innings. After all, the next three innings were pretty good, all things considered. You could chalk up Wieland's effort to having learned a good lesson the hard way.
But when a club can only manage two hits off of a pitcher - albeit a crafty one - who has no velocity at all, well then, San Diego, we have a problem.
Apparently, the blow to Cameron Maybin's elbow was not a concern as he started Saturday. No word yet on Stauffer, and Moseley will be out for an extended amount of time as he is evaluated, so it's probable that the Padres will keep Wieland up for at least one more start. With Mark Kotsay set to come off of the disabled list on Monday, odds are good that Buddy Black and GM Josh Byrnes will decide to send a relief pitcher down since the Padres are currently carrying 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster.
Kyle Blanks was the player that opened up the 25-man roster to add Wieland. Blanks was placed on the DL with a shoulder strain. According to Kyle, it is similar to what sidelined him for a good portion of spring training.
On Sunday, there will be a rematch of opening day pitchers Edinson Volquez for the Padres against the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw beat Volquez the first time out and so Volquez will seek a little revenge. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM, and can be seen via Fox Sports San Diego on Cox Cable and DirecTV. It would be nice to be able to type more viewing options here, but all that can be said is that perhaps some sports bars in San Diego are seeing higher profits these days. As always, the game will be carried on radio, with the play-by-play called by the brilliant Andy Masur on XX 1090 AM.