Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
There are countless ways to lose a baseball game, some rare and some common, but most involve the pure play of the game in so much as the team that plays better in critical moments prevails. But there are also times where the judgement of an umpire affects the outcome. Such was the case on Saturday afternoon when the Diamondbacks broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning and went on to beat the Padres, 4-2.
Padres starter Edinson Volquez pitched himself into trouble on several occasions but was able to pitch himself out of most jams. That, combined with some pesky Diamondbacks bats, elevated Volquez's pitch count early.
"I thought that his fastball was erratic, his curve ball wasn't consistent," manager Buddy Black said after the game, concerning the performance of Volquez. "None the less, you look at [Volquez], erratic as he was, he went six innings and gave up two runs."
Only one of the five walks to Diamondbacks hitters issued by Edinson resulted in a run. In the top of the fourth inning, Volquez issued a lead-off walk to Miguel Montero, and that walk came back to bite him. After then walking Chris Young, Josh Bell singled on a well-placed bunt meant to move the runners over.
Then, with the bases loaded, Volquez got Aaron Hill to pop out, but Arizona starting pitcher Daniel Hudson hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Montero and the Diamondbacks led, 1-0. The Padres got revenge on Hudson in the bottom of the fourth after being retired in order for the first three innings.
Will Venable bunted his way on, and then stole second base. Cameron Maybin then singled to right field, plating Venable, and Yonder Alonso singled to center field bringing Maybin around to score, and at the end of the fourth inning, the Padres led 2-1.
That score didn't hold up long. In the top of the fifth inning with two out, Paul Goldschmidt crushed a Volquez fastball into the second deck in left field to even the score, 2-2. The score remained tied until the seventh inning, and that's when it got weird.
Joe Thatcher relieved Volquez, and after one out, gave up singles to Gerardo Parra and Willie Bloomquist, Parra at third base and Bloomquist at first. With Jason Kubel at the plate, Thatcher was called for committing a balk.
The rules for committing a balk are subject to interpretation by an umpire. Thatcher came set, but his hands didn't break. What Thatcher did do was to step off of the mound in an unorthodox way, perhaps leading to an interpretation that he moved toward the plate before stepping off. But it didn't appear that there was any intention of deception on the part of Thatcher, only that he took his foot off of the rubber forcibly in an odd way. Never the less, Parra was awarded home plate and Bloomquist, second base.
"I didn't see anything," Black said when asked about the balk, insinuating that he didn't see an infraction that would lead to a balk being called.
It didn't stop there. Luke Gregerson, who had come on to relieve Thatcher and get the Padres out of the seventh inning without further damage, started the eighth inning. Miguel Montero doubled, and after Chris Young flied out to right, Josh Bell walked. Gregerson then struck out Aaron Hill, but walked pitcher Daniel Hudson to load the bases.
Alex Hinshaw then relieved Gregerson, but walked Gerardo Parra to score Montero, and the Diamondbacks scored an insurance run to lead the Padres 4-2. In the bottom of the ninth inning against Arizona closer J. J. Putz, the Padres put runners on first and third base to threaten, but pinch hitter Jesus Guzman, hero of Friday night's game, lined sharply to Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to end the game.
Carlos Quentin continued to hit the ball well in his fifth game after starting the season on the disabled list, going 1 for 3 and getting hit by a pitch. Carlos is batting .474 with 3 home runs in 19 at-bats.
Andy Parrino has been placed on the 15-day disabled list. He has a sore wrist, which apparently requires treatment beyond day-to-day status. Logan Forsythe is scheduled to become eligible to come off of the 60-day DL on Sunday and he will be called up to take Parrino's place on the 25-man roster.
Mark Kotsay is close to being ready to play again, very close. Buddy Black hinted that Kotsay might not even rehab in the minors first, instead simply being available at whatever point Black considers him ready. The corresponding roster move will be interesting when that happens, but just a hunch that Yasmani Grandal's stay on the big league roster might be short. Grandal could be better off continuing his defensive work in Tucson, and there seems to be no other logical roster move for position players.
Sunday's finale between the Padres and the Diamondbacks will see Eric Stultz face Arizona's Trevor Cahill. Game time is moved back to 3:35 PM PDST because of the marathon. Since the game will interfere with other nationally televised baseball coverage, it will not be televised. You can catch the action on radio though, XX 1090 AM, or just come out to Petco.