Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard has a knack for making some things unnecessary. Like relief pitching. Like an abundance of offense. Like a meeting on the mound, except for in the ninth inning - wonder what that conversation was all about; dinner plans, perhaps?
The thing is, Richard has been pitching some outstanding baseball all season, and has been victimized at times by a lack of run support. But he didn't need much on Wednesday, not any more than a run, as the Padres swept the Cubs, winning the last game of the series 2-0.
It's no secret that the Padres bull pen has been taxed mightily in the last week or so, bailing out starters and each other during the last part of the Cincinnati series and even into the Mets and Cubs visiting America's Finest City. So all Clayton Richard does is to shut down the Cubs and pitch nine innings of shut-out ball, which is particularly useful since the Padres also have a day off on Thursday.
By Friday, the bull pen should be rested and ready to roll.
On Wednesday, the only run the Padres would need came in the second inning. Chase Headley opened the frame with a double to right field, advancing to third base on a ground out by Mark Kotsay. Will Venable then doubled, scoring Headley, and Clayton Richard took over and never gave in.
It wasn't until the eighth inning that the Padres decided to get a little insurance. With two outs, Chris Denorfia pinch-hit for Alexi Amarista and doubled, and Everth Cabrera reached on an error by former Padre Anthony Rizzo. Yonder Alonso then singled to left field, scoring Denorfia, and the Padres took a 2-0 lead and held it.
Richard closed out the ninth, only allowing a walk to Starlin Castro, drawing that unnecessary visit to the mound. Unnecessary, that is, unless dinner plans were being made. Because that is important. After all, Richard had everything else under control. Everything else.
The series with the Cubs marked the first time that Anthony Rizzo visited Petco Park after he was traded in the off-season to Chicago for pitcher Andrew Cashner. Rizzo went 1 for 12 in the series, with an infield single and three strike-outs. Cashner is rehabbing a strained lat, but is expected to throw off of the bull pen mound shortly.
Catcher Nick Hundley has been called up from AAA Tucson, with Eddy Rodriguez being optioned to Tucson rather than back to Lake Elsinore. Hundley is coming off of a right hamstring injury which found him on the 7-day disabled list in the minors. He was sent down earlier this season to find his swing, we'll see if he looked in the right places.
Friday, the Padres begin a road trip that begins in Pittsburgh to try and tackle the surprising Pirates, to open up a three-game series. The Padres will offer Edinson Volquez (7-8, 3.73) against James McDonald (10-5, 3.42) for Pittsburgh. Game time at 4:05 PM PDST, XX 1090 AM for the sound and Fox Sports San Diego for the visual, and Time Warner or AT&T U-verse for Olympic women's boxing and BMX bicycle racing, which as we all know, was a big hit in Greece back in the day.
In other related news, it's no secret that a group headed by Peter O'Malley is in the on-deck circle to purchase the Padres from John Moores, who hates being an owner now that he's screwed his soon-to-be former team sideways. More on that tomorrow, we have some thoughts on O'Malley's involvement that might not sit well with Padres fans. Apparently, so does my pal Walter Mencken, and my other pal Matt Potter has some thoughts on Ron Fowler, the money behind the purchase. Presuming that Bud Selig approves. But enough about the greasy palms of baseball owners...