Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
After leaving Colorado with a series win, the rubber game a 2-0 shutout engineered by new Padres pitcher Kip Wells, the San Diego Padres traveled to Phoenix to battle a better team in the Arizona Diamondbacks. Padres starter Clayton Richard was the latest starting pitcher to shine, going eight and two-thirds innings in a 6-2 victory over the Diamondbacks on Monday.
Starting pitching has been outstanding the last few games, and the Padres bats have done just enough to support. And in what has been out of character for this squad so far this season, the long-ball has been the heart of the offensive attack.
The Padres got on the board early, when with one out, Alexi Amarista hit his fourth home run of the year, and all of his homers have come in the last five games. Amarista is listed as five feet and seven inches, and 150 lbs. Even if he really was that big, the sudden power is surprising.
Clayton Richard continued to pitch well. Allowing a runner here and there, he pitched out of jams through six innings. And the Padres offense did him a favor and padded his lead.
In the top of the sixth with one out, Cameron Maybin hit the longest homer measured in the big leagues this season at 485 feet. Everth Cabrera then reached on an error and after Richard struck out, Will Venable was hit by a pitch by Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. Amarista then doubled to plate both Cabrera and Venable, and the Padres led the Diamondbacks 4-0.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Diamondbacks got a run back. Willie Bloomquist walked to open the frame and then Aaron Hill doubled, putting Bloomquist at third base. After Juston Upton flied out, Paul Goldschimdt hit a sacrifice fly scoring Bloomquist and the Padres led Arizona 4-1 after six innings.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Padres got that run back when Yasmani Grandal hit a home run, off of Diamondbacks reliever Mike Zagurski, a 2-2 slider over the right field wall. Into the bottom of the frame the Padres had a comfortable 5-1 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Clayton Richard gave that run back. Chris Young belted a fastball over the center field wall to make the score 5-2 after seven innings.
But the Padres scored and insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. With one out, Chase Headley walked and then Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch from Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler. Yasmani Grandal then singled to left to load the bases, and Yonder Alonso walked to score Headley and the Padres led 6-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, Richard got the first two Diamondbacks batters out, when Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra singled. With Richard at 115 pitches by that point, manager Buddy Black pulled Joe Thatcher out of the bullpen and Thatcher struck out Jason Kubel for the final out.
The win, combined with the Rockies loss at St. Louis, pulled the Padres out of the cellar by percentage points. San Diego has now won three in a row.
Yasmani Grandal is making a name for himself. He is just the seventh player since 1900 whose first three hits were home runs. Chick Fullis (1929), Ed Sanicki (1949), Billiy Conigliaro (1969), Mike Greenwell (1985), Alfonso Soriano (1999/2000), and Keith McDonald (2000) preceded Grandal with that accomplishment. Don't continue to expect mad power out of Grandal, though, he doesn't project that. He'll hit, though, but in the larger National League West ballparks like Petco, he's more likely to pepper the wall or hit the gaps. Not anything wrong with that.
Tuesday evening in Phoenix, the Padres will offer Andrew Cashner up against the Diamondbacks' young phenom Trevor Bauer. Game is in progress, look for it on Fox Sports San Diego unless you have Time Warner, which we would guess your local sports bar doesn't bother with, they likely have DirecTV. And if you can't pull up a bar stool somewhere, Andy Masur has the call on radio XX 1090 AM. Masur is one of the most solid play-by-play men in the business. Catch his brilliance before television snatches him away, you know that's coming soon.