Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
A few hours before the game on Thursday, media members slowly spilled out of the clubhouse and into the Padres dugout. Having dropped the first two games of a three game set to the Washington Nationals, chatter seemed to avoid the possibility of being swept. Padres pitchers were taking batting practice while the position players were warming up tossing the ball around in the outfield, and the infielders would be coming in to take some ground balls on the infield.
Manager Buddy Black then came over and into the dugout, sat, and spoke prophetically about Thursday's starting pitcher, Edinson Volquez.
"He’s thrown the ball well. I think the one thing you look at is that he’s kept us in games, he’s put up a lot of zeros in his outings. There has been a couple of innings that have gotten away from him. One thing we’re stressing with Edinson would be the walk total. But the fastball has life and velocity and the change-up is devastating, breaking ball better than I expected. We’ll see how it goes tonight, but I expect him to pitch well."
And boy, did Edinson Volquez pitch well. Except for one mistake, a fastball to Jayson Werth that was supposed to be low and away but wound up in the zone and up a bit and was subsequently belted over the left field wall, Volquez was brilliant. He only allowed three hits and a walk over seven innings, striking out seven.
Volquez also minimized his pitch count early on. "That's what I want," Volquez said after the game. "I want to be at eleven or twelve pitches per inning, I could go eight or nine innings. Sometimes that doesn't work out, but that's what I have in mind."
And thanks to some pinch-hit heroics by Mark Kotsay, the Padres came back and beat the Nationals 2-1 Thursday evening. When asked about his pinch-hitting success (over .310 average lifetime as a pinch-hitter), Kotsay said, "There's a mind-set. I learned early in my career from a few really good pinch-hitters. You're going up prepared with a plan and look to get a pitch in the zone, put the pressure on the pitcher and have an aggressive at-bat."
The game was very much a pitcher's dual, except that the Padres let a golden opportunity slip by in the fourth inning against Nationals starter Edwin Jackson. Nick Hundley opened the inning with a single and then Yonder Alonso hit a double (his second of the game) into right field moving Hundley to third base, and there were runners on second and third with no one out.
Orlando Hudson then struck out on three straight pitches, the last pitch a slider by Jackson. After an intentional walk to load the bases, the Padres found themselves with the bases loaded and only one out. Jason Bartlett then struck out in the same fashion as did Hudson, three straight pitches, the last one a slider. Volquez then grounded out to end the inning.
It wasn't until the seventh inning - Volquez' last of the game - that Jayson Werth took Edinson's fastball out over the left field wall, and the Nationals led 1-0.
In the eighth inning with one out, Orlando Hudson drew a walk. Cameron Maybin then laid down a perfect bunt and beat it out for a single. Up walked Mark Kotsay to pinch-hit and he belted a line-drive double into right-center and Hudson and Maybin scored. Huston Street earned his second save of the season, closing it out in the ninth inning.
San Diego improved to 6-14 while the Nationals fell to 14-5 on the young season.
The Padres placed relief pitcher Micah Owings on the disabled list with a strained right forearm, and brought up reliever Dale Thayer from AAA Tucson. Thayer has made a total of 23 relief appearances in the Major Leagues as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Mets. According to manager Bud Black, Owings had been resting the arm to see if the forearm would respond but he reported discomfort in Wednesday night’s outing. Owings will rest and be reevaluated by team doctors and trainers in 7-10 days.
On being called up, Thayer said, “I was hoping I would get a chance. I like knowing I was one of the last guys to get sent down [from spring training], that always gives you hope that you’ll get called up sooner or later.” Thayer was told Wednesday evening of the call-up and drove from Tucson to his home in Murrieta. The AAA Tucson Padres were about to board a flight to Sacramento when the call came.
Tim Stauffer got in another throwing session on Thursday afternoon and according to Buddy Black there were no issues. Stauffer is now slated to start a rehab session in the minors at class A Lake Elsinore on Sunday.
Friday, the Padres will be in San Francisco to play the Giants in the first of a three game series. The Padres will start Cory Luebke, while the Giants starter has yet to be determined. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM PDST, and can be seen where you can see it, you know the drill by now. As always, XX 1090 AM will carry the radio broadcast.
More like this:
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- A Balk, a Walk, and Diamondbacks Bite Padres — June 3, 2012
- Out with the New and in with the Old? — May 4, 2012
- Kotsay and Volquez Great Again, Padres Shut Out Brewers — May 2, 2012
- Wieland Good, Zimmerman Better as Nats Beat Pads — April 26, 2012