Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Let's get this straight. So, all you have to do is to call up some minor league pitcher that most people have never heard of and start him against a team that is contending for a play-off spot. Then, plug in another pitcher from the minor leagues that is mostly unknown so he can get the save.
Recipe for a sweep? Apparently so. Veteran hitter Carlos Quentin (pictured) provided the clutch lumber as the Padres beat the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon, 4-2, to complete the three game sweep of Pittsburgh.
Starter Andrew Werner wasn't bad in the minors, but neither was he shiny or significant in any way. Starting in Independent League ball and pitching for teams not affiliated with a major league club, the Padres got a hold of him in 2011 and marched the left-handed pitcher through the minors until he wound up in AAA Tucson.
Suddenly, he's making his major league debut, limiting the Pirates to 2 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings of work. Not bad for a guy with a fastball that tops out at under 90 MPH. Werner mixed in a curve ball, a slider, and a good change-up to keep the Bucs bats quiet.
The Padres offense wasn't as prolific as it has been lately, but they scored all of the runs they would need in the bottom of the first inning. Consecutive walks by Everth Cabrera, Will Venable, and Chase Headley issued by Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald loaded the bases with no one out, and Carlos Quentin doubled home Cabrera and Venable with Headley taking third base.
Mark Kotsay hit a sacrifice fly and Headley tagged and scored. After an inning, the Padres led 3-0 and that turned out to be the only offense necessary.
Werner sailed along nicely until the top of the fourth inning. Pittsburgh got on the board when, with one out, Andrew McCutchen hit an infield single and Werner walked Garrett Jones.
After Gaby Sanchez flied out, Pedro Alvarez singled to right field, plating McCutchen. But Will Venable gunned down Jones trying to get to third base, and that was it for the Pirates, who trailed 3-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Padres added a run. Will Venable opened the frame with a double, and one out later, Carlos Quentin struck again with a single to right field, driving in Venable, and the Padres led 4-1.
The Pirates tagged Werner again in the seventh inning, when Gaby Sanchez opened the inning and hit the first pitch he saw over the center field wall, and Pittsburgh closed the gap to 4-2. After walking Pedro Alvarez, manager Buddy Black pulled Werner in favor of Brad Brach, who retired the side.
That was all of the scoring. After Brach, Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect eighth inning and then Tommy Layne came on to pitch a perfect ninth and pick up his first major league save.
The win pushed the Padres to 57-70, while the Pirates fell to 67-57 on the season. In the six games scheduled against the Pirates, the Padres won five of the six games this year.
Everth Cabrera is one heck of a thief on the base paths this season. He stole his 23rd and 24th bases on Wednesday, and has yet to be caught. Cabrera has now stolen 28 straight bases dating back to September of 2010, which is a new Padres record (Jerry Mumphrey had the previous club record with 27 straight back in 1980).
The Padres enjoy a day off on Thursday and will travel to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks for a three-game series on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Game times are 6:40 PM on Friday, 5:10 PM on Saturday, and 1:10 PM on Sunday, all PDST, because Arizona is different, really different. The day off gives you time to order DirecTV if you're stuck with Time Warner, there's still 36 games left until the boys of summer either play in the post season or make vacation plans for November and December.