Don Bauder 5:30 p.m., March 14
Joe Wieland (pictured) was good on Wednesday afternoon, he simply wasn't quite as good as the Nationals' Jordan Zimmerman. Hours before the game, the talk of possible rain was laughable as the eighty degrees and sunshine made batting practice look promising for the Padres. Then it got downright muggy. And the dugout talk was dominated by the idea of the possibility of bringing the fences in at Petco Park.
If the fences had been brought in about ten feet or so, then several balls hit by both teams might have left the park. But by any cocktail napkin calculations, it wouldn't have had an outcome on the result of the contest on Wednesday. The Padres dropped another game to the Washington Nationals, 7-2.
There seems to be one particular inning in each of Joe Wieland's three starts where he gets into a bit of trouble. On Wednesday, it was the second inning. Adam LaRoche doubled, taking a Wieland curve ball down the right field line. After Jayson Werth ground out, moving LaRoche to third base, Rick Ankiel doubled to right field on a 1-0 Wieland curve ball to drive in LaRoche.
Wilson Ramos flied out, Ankiel tagging and taking third base, and then Wieland intentionally walked Roger Bernadina to face the Nationals pitcher, Zimmerman. The strategy backfired, as Zimmerman singled to center field on a 1-2 curve ball from Wieland and Ankiel scored to make it 2-0 Nationals.
Wieland struggled early with his curve ball, which has normally been one of the most effective pitches in his arsenal. "[My curve ball] was up to two guys, that was really the biggest difference. The one to Ankiel was a good curve ball, for being behind 1-0. He didn't hit it very well, but he hit it right down the line, you don't need to hit it any better than that. And the one to Zimmerman, I just left up. I don't care if he's a pitcher, pitchers can hit, and leaving it up, there's no excuse," Wieland said after the game.
Past the second inning, Wieland made adjustments and the curve ball was working well for him after that. "I was working on trying to get it down in the zone, at the knees or below the knees. [Pitching coach Darren Balsley] told me, 'Hey, keep your front hip closed a little longer, that's the way you keep your curve ball down,' and on my warm-up pitches I was really focusing on that."
In the bottom of the second inning with one out, Yonder Alonso doubled, but was stranded when Cameron Maybin ground out and Orlando Hudson popped out to shortstop. Then in the bottom of the fifth inning, Orlando Hudson hit a home run into the right field seats to draw the Padres to 2-1, but the Padres never got any closer than that.
Meanwhile, Wieland continued to be effective, getting out of any small jam he got himself into. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning, having given up just 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4 and leaving the Padres in a position to still be very much in the game.
Jesus Guzman batted for Wieland and singled to right field to open up the sixth inning. After fly ball outs to center field by Will Venable and Andy Parrino, Chase Headley then singled, Guzman to second base. Then Jeremy Hermida struck out to end the threat.
Hermida, batting clean-up for the first time this season, had a miserable time with Jordan Zimmerman. The Padres right fielder struck out all three times he faced the Nationals' pitcher.
In the seventh inning, Luke Gregerson replaced Wieland and with one out he gave up back-to-back singles to Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, and then Josh Spence relieved Gregerson. Spence walked pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa to load the bases with still only one out.
Adam LaRoche then sharply singled to right field, scoring Desmond, and the Nationals led 3-1. Micah Owings then relieved Spence, and walked Jayson Werth with Espinosa scoring. After Rick Ankiel struck out, Wilson Ramos singled to right field scoring DeRosa and LaRoche.
The Nationals had a 6-1 lead at the seventh inning stretch.
In the Nationals' eighth inning, Ian Desmond drew a walk and Danny Espinosa singled, Desmond to third. Relief pitcher Tom Gorzelanny then singled scoring Desmond to make it 7-1, Nationals.
In the bottom of the ninth inning with one out, the Padres made a last effort as Mark Kotsay pinch-hit for reliever Huston Street and singled to center. Yonder Alonso then doubled off of the center field fence, a ball that would have likely left most other ball parks, putting Kotsay at third base. Cameron Maybin hit a ground ball that scored Kotsay, but that was all the Padres could come up with as Orlando Hudson struck out to end the game.
"When you're giving up two earned runs per game, over twenty games into the season or so, you're going to have nice results," manager Bud Black said of the Nationals after the game. Concerning the Padres, Black said, "We have to play, overall, a complete team game. Offensively we have to pick it up, and we have to pick it up defensively. We've pitched okay, I think the one thing, we've hurt ourselves on some walks. I think the aspect of improving the team offense, improving the team defense, and the critical walk has come back to bite us. Getting all of those things in sync, I think the results will be there once that happens."
Dustin Moseley underwent surgery to have his posterior labrum tear repaired, and the doctors were happy with their work in surgery and said it was something that needed to be done. There was nothing unexpected that was found, and the doctors felt it was successful. Moseley will not return until next season.
The discussion before the game in the dugout revolved around the Padres front office entertaining the notion of bringing the fences in at offense-starved Petco Park. Buddy Black went on record as being in favor of such a move. He then posed the question in an unofficial poll to all media present in the dugout. Yours truly and Scott Miller from CBS sports were the lone dissenters. I reckon there are worse things in life than being stuck on an island with Mr. Miller. At least I know he wouldn't argue with me about ignoring any temptation to shovel some beach away from the shoreline.
Thursday evening, Edinson Volquez will get the start against Edwin Jackson of the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM and can be seen on the usual suspects so far as the Fox Sports San Diego video broadcast. On radio, XX1090 AM is the station to tune in to.