Jim Markle 6:30 p.m., June 30
Edinson Volquez hasn't always been the beneficiary of the offense he deserved in order to win more games this season. Perhaps living karma is real, then, because Volquez wasn't exactly brilliant on Saturday, but he did just enough and the offense bailed him out nicely, as the San Diego Padres beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4 in Denver.
Someone forgot to tell Yasmani Grandal that rookies aren't supposed to set records in their first four major league plate appearances. After a fly ball out the first time Grandal came to the plate in the beginning of June, and after the first at-bat Saturday when he flied out to right field, all that Grandal did then was to hit a home run right-handed and then one left-handed to become the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to homer from both sides of the plate in his first two major league hits.
Grandal's first home run was off of Rockies starter Christian Friedrich in the fourth inning to give the Padres a 1-0 lead. Grandal hit right-handed against the lefty Friedrich and drove a 1-0 fastball over the center field wall.
Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez got himself into and out of jams, with several walks issued without coming back to bite him. Until the bottom of the fifth inning. Wilin Rosario opened up the frame by blasting his thirteenth home run over the center field fence to tie the game at 1-1. Volquez then walked Eric Young, and Dexter Fowler laid down the perfect bunt for a sacrifice that turned into a single, but Grandal threw the ball away and Young came around to score.
Fowler was gunned out at third by a great throw from Chris Denorfia in right field, but the damage was done, one of the six walks surrendered by Volquez finally paid off for Colorado. After five innings, the Padres trailed the Rockies 2-1.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Padres went back on top, this time to stay. With one out, Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch by right-handed reliever Jeremy Guthrie, and then Grandal belted his second homer in consecutive plate appearances, a 0-1 Guthrie change-up that cleared the fence in left field, and the Padres led 3-2.
Some of Grandal's magic day must have rubbed off on Alexi Amarista; in the top of the seventh Amarista led off with a solo home run to center. The Padres padded their lead to 4-2, but added on even more in the eighth inning.
Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino replaced Guthrie and surrendered a single to Chase Headley and then walked Carlos Quentin. Grandal proved himself to be human by grounding into a double play, putting Headley at third. Ottavino then intentionally walked Yonder Alonso.
Cameron Maybin then singled, plating Headley and moving Alonso to second base. The newly inspired Amarista then homered to right field for his second of the game, and the Padres led 8-2 after seven and a half innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with Dale Thayer on the hill for the Padres, Carlos Gonzalez singled with one out. Michael Cuddyer reached on an error by Padres second baseman Logan Forsythe, and Joe Thatcher then relieved Thayer and struck out Todd Helton.
With two outs, Jordan Pacheco singled to left scoring Gonzalez and moving Cuddyer to second, and then Chris Nelson doubled in Cuddyer to make the score 8-4. Thatcher then struck out Rosario and Huston Street set down the Rockies in order in the ninth inning to preserve the victory for the Padres.
The three-game series is now tied 1-1. Yasmani Grandal has always been considered as an excellent hitter, but his second major league game went beyond great hitting, setting a record that might never be tied. Now, if anyone can figure out what got into Amarista, bottle it and pass it around the clubhouse, I bet everyone would take a drink of that magic formula.
Other interesting notes about Grandal's home runs - The only other Padres player to homer twice in his first big league start was Keith Lockhart against the Florida Marlins in 1994; Ken Caminiti homered from both sides of the plate in the same game eight times in his career, Grandal is just the fourth player in team history to do so, the other two were Milton Bradley in 2007 and Geoff Blum in 2005; Grandal is the ninth Padres player to homer for his first major league hit, joining Tim Loller, Kevin McReynolds, Dave Eiland, Dave Staton, Kevin Nicholson, Jason Bay, Drew Macias, and Luis Martinez.
Sunday, the finale of the three game series will see the Padres debut of Kip Wells up against Drew Pomeranz of the Rockies. Game is in progress, and you're probably watching it on Fox Sports San Diego unless you have Time Warner, and damn, if you don't have a radio and can't tune in to XX 1090 AM then you're probably hoping I'll tell you what is going on. Patience. Unlike Time Warner, I'll eventually deliver the goods.