Jeff Smith 3 p.m., March 27
Before Saturday's game, the Padres were coming off of a four-game losing streak, with a record of 3 wins against 12 losses in the first 15 games. Four hours before first pitch, one might have expected the Padres clubhouse to be as somber as a funeral home, as serious as a hospital operating room, as desperate as a confessional. It was anything but all of that.
Music filled the area and players were loose. A few of the guys were entertained by some portable media over by Jesus Guzman's locker. Someone was dancing to the beat of the music. You wouldn't have been able to tell if the team was 3-12 or 12-3.
But don't mistake the loose approach with being unaware or concerned with the poor start. They know. They're aware of it, and that becomes obvious when they take the field to warm up and toss the ball around, when they take batting practice. You hear it in their voices when you talk with them.
Every member of the Padres knows they are better than 3-12, just ask them.
Manager Buddy Black sits in the Padres dugout three hours before first pitch, media gathered around him. He's calm and relaxed, stealing glances at what goes on during batting practice, watching the players warm up and work as he talks, answering some questions, even having a little fun with players and coaches and media. But there is an intensity in those blue eyes, you can see it, reflective of -as an example - whatever gutty decision he made to bat a struggling Nick Hundley at clean-up in the batting order that day.
"Even though [Hundley's] batting average might not reflect it, we do think that he's having some better at-bats, overall. Last year, at times he produced some runs in that spot. I think with the guys we have in the line-up tonight, this is the best spot for Nick."
While Hundley went a somewhat humble 1 for 4 on Saturday, there could be little argument as to the effectiveness of the batting order. In beating Roy Halladay, no easy task as many consider Halladay as the best current pitcher in baseball, the Padres did what they haven't done much of so far this season. The Padres took advantage of opportunities.
When Roy Halladay issued three straight walks for the first time in his career, with only one out in the second inning the Padres scored on a ground ball by Orlando Hudson. With two out in the bottom of the second inning, after Halladay gives up singles to Chase Headley and Nick Hundley, Yonder Alonso doubled Headley home. That's cashing in on what the opposing pitcher gives you.
It helped tremendously that Cory Luebke was brilliant over eight innings, giving up only two hits and two walks while striking out five. Philadelphia's only run came in the ninth inning as Huston Street worked in order to stay sharp. Street walked Jimmy Rollins to open up the inning and then got Hunter Pence to strike out and Shane Victorino to fly out. Then Ty Wiggington doubled to drive in Rollins, which was Street's first earned run allowed at Petco Park in his career.
The inning prior, the Padres sealed Saturday's victory in the bottom of the eighth. With Halladay finished on 119 pitches through 7 innings, reliever Michael Stutes allowed the Padres to enjoy a nice two-out rally. Cameron Maybin walked and then swiped his fourth base of the season, and Jason Bartlett doubled, plating Maybin. Orlando Hudson then tripled scoring Bartlett and Jesus Guzman pinch-hit for Luebke and singled home Hudson.
The Padres beat the Phillies on Saturday, 5-1.
It only took two days for Nick Hundley's slotting in the clean-up position in the batting order to pay off. On Sunday, the Padres sent Anthony Bass to the mound to go up against Joe Blanton of the Phillies. All Hundley did was triple and homer, driving in four runs. The Padres earned a split of the four-game series and beat the Phillies on Sunday, 6-1.
Bass was not brilliant early on, but neither was the Padres defense. He did manage to get out of some tight spots. In the top of the first inning, Bass walked Juan Pierre, then picked him off of first base. Then Shane Victorino walked, Jimmy Rollins reached first on a fielding error by Yonder Alonso and Victorino took third by Alonso's second error (throwing) on the same play.
After Rollins stole second base, the Phillies had runners on second and third with only one out. But Hunter Pence grounded out to third base, allowing Chase Headley to hold the runners, and then Jim Thome struck out to end the threat.
The Padres struck right away in the bottom of the inning. Will Venable bunted for a base hit and then Mark Kotsay reached on an error by Joe Blanton. Chase Headley doubled to right field, driving in Venable and sending Kotsay to third base, and then Nick Hundley sacrificed scoring Kotsay, even though Headley was thrown out trying to take third base.
Down 2-0, the Phillies rallied in the top of the second inning. With one out, Carlos Ruiz singled to center, and Freddy Galvis moved Ruiz to second on a ground ball out. Joe Blanton then drew a walk, and an error by Will Venable allowed Ruiz to score on a Juan Pierre single. That unearned run would be all for the Phillies.
With two out in the bottom of the third inning, the Padres piled on more. Chase Headley walked and then Nick Hundley tripled, plating Headley. A throwing error by Jim Thome after a ground ball by Yonder Alonso allowed Hundley to score, and the Padres led 4-1.
In the sixth inning with two outs, Chase Headley walked and then Nick Hundley hit a home run to left-center field, and that was it for scoring, as the Padres beat the Phillies 6-1. Anthony Bass would up going six innings, giving up one unearned run on three hits and five walks while striking out seven. Joe Thatcher, Luke Gregerson, and Ernesto Frieri provided scoreless relief from the bullpen.
While the Padres record stands at 5-12, it would appear as though they have a good amount of momentum going into a three-game series with the Washington Nationals. And as odd as it sounds, the Nationals should be much more of a challenge than even the Phillies. Having momentum can only help.
On players that are healing, Buddy Black stated that Tim Stauffer is progressing well, backed up by pitching coach Darren Balsley who watched the bullpen session. Stauffer is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Tuesday, throwing as many as fifty pitches and facing live batters for between two and three innings. Black said that Carlos Quentin could be one of the live batters to face Stauffer. Regarding Quentin, Black said, "He's gaining on it," when asked that if perhaps Quentin would be ready for a minor league rehab assignment within a week.
Kyle Blanks joins Dustin Moseley as being out for the year. Blanks faces surgery on his shoulder with torn cartilage, and his loss for the season will take away from the depth the Padres had during spring training.
After enjoying an off-day on Monday, the Padres will face the Washington Nationals on Tuesday evening for the first of a three-game series at Petco Park. Gio Gonzalez for the Nationals will face the Padres Clayton Richard. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM and can be seen via Fox Sports San Diego on Cox Cable or DirecTV, but Time Warner Cable customers will be shut out. Maybe all season. On radio, tune in to XX 1090 AM.