Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Feb. 27
Not that there was ever a real need to panic, but if there had been, the Padres response on Monday would have been appropriate. Stay calm. A listing ship will usually right itself in calm waters, and the waters were calm in the land-locked state of Colorado. No seaworthy vessel looks very good on its side, but for one evening the U.S.S. San Diego Padres looked smart and upright, sails properly unfurled for a downward wind, sailing well on a high waterline.
Cory Luebke is talented. While Luebke might lack the overall consistency to be considered as ace material, when he is on his game he can compete with anyone. Apparently, even in the thin, rarefied air a mile high in Denver. Apparently, even with a team that came in to Monday with a record of 2-8.
All that Cory Luebke did was to pitch seven innings, giving up only one run on six hits, walking only one batter and striking out four. And the bats, oh did those big wooden sticks come to life. All but one position player had at least one hit, for a total of fourteen. It was easily the most commanding game the Padres have played this season, both defensively and offensively.
The Padres didn't waste any time getting things going. In the top of the first inning with one out, Will Venable doubled off of Colorado Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie, and Chase Headley doubled home Venable. After Jeremy Hermida lined out, Nick Hundley doubled home Headley. It's likely safe to say that Hundley has broken out of his slump to open the season, as it was his first of three hits on the evening.
In the second inning, the Padres added another run. Andy Parrino opened the inning by doubling to right field and Jason Bartlett walked. After Cory Luebke bunted to sacrifice Parrino and Bartlett to secon and third base, Cameron Maybin then hit a sacrifice fly which plated Parrino and the Padres were up 3-0.
The Rockies got a run back in their half of the second, but it would be their only run of the game. With one out, Michael Cuddyer doubled to left field. After Luebke got Rockies catcher, ex-Padre Ramon Hernandez to ground out back to him, Tyler Colvin then singled to bring home Cuddyer. After two innings, the Padres led 3-1, but the game was never in doubt after that.
In the fourth inning, the Padres piled on. Yonder Alonso hit an infield single, and after Andy Parrino popped out, Jason Bartlett doubled to left and Alonso took third base. Cory Luebke reached on a fielding error by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzky and Alonso scored, Bartlett going to third base.
Cameron Maybin then singled to left plating Bartlett, with Luebke taking second base. Venable was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Chase Headley popped out and Jeremy Hermida lined out to end the inning.
The Padres added a run in the seventh inning. With one out, Chase Headley doubled to center field, and then took third base on a Jeremy Hermida ground out. Nick Hundley singled and Headley scored and the Padres led 6-0 after seven innings.
In the ninth inning, the Padres tacked on one more run. With one out, Chase Headley doubled and then with two outs, Nick Hundley singled Headley home. That score stood up, 7-1, the Padres most dominating win of the young season.
For their next trick, the Padres will attempt to keep Colorado Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer from making history. Moyer is 49 years old and a victory would put him in the record books as being the oldest starting pitching in the history of Major League Baseball to notch a win unless the Padres can muster an appropriate response. Take advantage of that downwind breeze, then, and let the spinnaker fly.
Mark Kotsay came off of the disabled list and Brad Brach was sent down to AAA Tucson on Monday. Also, AAA pitcher and prime prospect Casey Kelly was scratched from his start and flown to San Diego, with elbow issues. Good news, an MRI showed no extensive damage and all that should be required is about four weeks of rest. We'll keep you posted as Kelly progresses, he's touted as a certain #2 starter in the big leagues and lately has had good enough stuff to perhaps be considered as ace material if that progresses.
Tuesday, the Padres will try to continue their roll in Colorado as Anthony Bass faces Jamie Moyer in a game that is certain to draw national attention. Moyer, now 49, will attempt to make history as the oldest starting pitcher in MLB history to win a game. The Padres will not want their name attached to that. Fox Sports San Diego obviously, and Cox Cable and DirecTV and everyone else is either screwed or contributing to San Diego's local economy in a sports bar somewhere. And as always, you can pick up Tuesday's game on radio at XX 1090 AM.