Walter Mencken 10:06 a.m., Feb. 6
Chase Headley stood in the Padres clubhouse before Thursday's game and fielded questions, everything from his rising performance at the plate to the Padres 1-5 road mark. Then he was asked about the Padres chances beginning a home stand where the Padres face the Phillies, without Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and avoiding meeting Cliff Lee in the match-ups.
“[The Phillies] are extremely talented, even when you don’t have Howard in the middle of the line-up and even without facing Cliff Lee. There’s still a lot of ability over there, but we’re confident if we can play how we’re capable of then we’ll be just fine,” Headley said.
Playing how the Padres are capable hasn't quite come to fruition yet, however. The team leads the majors in striking out. Some players seem to be pressing at the plate, perhaps a sign of pressure. Asked if there was any thought of placing Cameron Maybin down in the batting order rather than to continue to bat him at lead-off, Black said, “We think about everything.”
“For the young guys, it can be tough. You know, for [Cameron Maybin], he has just a little over two years of major League service. It’s through parts of two seasons, but the accumulation is just over a little over two years,” Black said.
One half hour later, it was obvious that such a decision had already been made, as the line-up was released and Maybin was slotted into second in the order while Will Venable led off. It didn't help. Joe Wieland lost his second game as Phillies pitcher Vance Worley struck out 11 Padres, his career high.
Like in his first outing, Wieland started out shaky again in the top of the first again and the Phillies made him pay. After walking Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco hit a single to left field and Will Venable bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Pierre to reach third. A sacrifice fly from Polanco scored Pierre, and the Phillies jumped out 1-0. Consecutive singles by Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino loaded the bases with one out.
Then, Wieland got John Mayberry to pop out and Carlos Ruiz to ground to short. Wieland and the Padres were fortunate to escape down by only a run, but credit to the young right handed pitcher for collecting himself to get out of the jam.
The Padres first three batters struck out in their half of the first inning, but Jeremy Hermida got things rolling in the Padres second with a lead-off triple. Yonder Alonso then lined out, back-up catcher John Baker struck out, and Jason Bartlett then grounded out to strand Hermida.
In the Padres sixth, Will Venable hit a single up the middle and Cameron Maybin sacrificed Venable to second. Chase Headley then singled to left field, Venable stopping at third base. Jeremy Hermida ran the count full and struck out, and Will Venable was thrown out attempting a delayed steal of home, for a double play by the Phillies to kill the threat.
Then in the seventh inning with two outs, Jason Bartlett drew a walk and Orlando Hudson singled to right center, Bartlett going to third. Mark Kotsay came up, pinch hitting for Luke Gregerson, and was called out on strikes, Worley’s eleventh strikeout of the evening.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Phillies added an insurance run when Padres reliever Ernesto Frieri walked Hunter Pence, and then Shane Victorino singled Pence to third base. A passed ball by back-up catcher John Baker then allowed Pence to score and the Phillies led 2-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
"The Padres had some opportunities tonight, and we couldn't cash in," manager Buddy Black said after the game.
But Black also praised the pitching of Joe Wieland after the game. Wieland only gave up the one run on 5 hits and a walk, while striking out seven.
Wieland talked about the shaky first inning after the game. "The game kind of sped up on me, and I didn't slow it down. I didn't notice that, and Darren [Balsley] came up to me and mentioned that, and once I slowed it down, I was back to normal, back to my normal self."
My comfort zone is working quick, but I get into a habit of sometimes working too quick. That's what happened today and I was getting the ball up and I wasn't stepping off [of the mound]. Once I figured that out, I was fine."
But there were times after the first inning that Wieland working quickly seemed to have an obvious effect on Phillies hitters, perhaps making them uncomfortable at the plate. "I do feel like hitters sometimes will fall into that, get right back in the box. Your good hitters, they're going to realize what's going on and step out. But if I'm going well, and [the batter] wants to get in, I'm going to go right with him."
And it's the same when I'm out of the stretch. With my slide step, I feel like a lot of hitters aren't used to a guy going that quick. So, I'll throw off the runner's timing and I'll throw off the hitter's timing. It can work to my advantage if I learn to control it."
Carlos Quentin, who opened the season on the disabled list and had arthroscopic knee surgery performed on his knee in March, hit live pitching in batting practice for the first time since the procedure. Buddy Black maintains that Quentin is on track in his rehabilitation and should be ready to perhaps do some minor league rehab within a couple of weeks.
Friday is game two of the four game series with the Phillies. Edinson Volquez will face Cole Hamels, and there will be a fireworks show after the game. First pitch is at 7:05 PM, broadcast on cable or dish providers that carry Fox Sports San Diego, and can be heard on radio XX 1090 AM.