Dave Rice 6:30 p.m., March 24
After completing a ten-day, nine-game road trip with a record of five wins against four losses, the Padres came home to face the offensive powerhouse Texas Rangers on Monday evening to kick off a three game series. Instead of the typical offensive battle most ball clubs find themselves in with the Rangers, the Padres found themselves outhitting them. But even with all of the combined runs in the game tallied in the first inning, the Rangers hung on and won 2-1.
Most would have expected more offense from the Rangers, but the Padres and starting pitcher Jason Marquis (pictured) held the potent offense to just five hits. Before the game, Padres manager Buddy Black talked about the Rangers line-up.
“Pretty good group, there’s no doubt,” Black said when asked to compare the current Rangers line-up to the famous Yankees line-up known as Murderers’ Row from back in the late 1920’s. “They’ve proven themselves to be a deep, deep line-up. It’s a proven line-up, with guys who are All-Star caliber players. They have to be in the conversation as a modern day Murderers’ Row.”
If that is the case to be made, then the Padres pitching staff handled themselves well against the Rangers on Monday. As with so many games the Padres have played this season, the game boiled down to taking advantage of offensive opportunities. And as the Padres have often failed to capitalize on chances, their opposition has succeeded.
In the top of the first inning, the Rangers got on the board quickly. With one out, Elvis Andrus hit a fortunate single on a very slow ground ball toward second base, too far from the mound for Marquis to intercept but to slow for Alexi Amarista to charge and field in time to get Andrus. After getting Michael Young to ground out, Marquis then walked both Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz to load the bases. David Murphy then singled, driving in Andrus and Beltre and the Rangers were up 2-0.
“I’m sure [Padres starter Jason Marquis] will tell you he’d like to have those two at-bats back where he gave up a couple of walks,” Buddy Black said after the game, “but his stuff’s fine.”
Marquis made 31 pitches alone is the first inning. “I just lost the release point with a couple of hitters and gave them a free pass, “Jason said in the clubhouse after the game. “I made a good enough pitch and Murphy just found a hole, and the walks hurt.”
The Padres came right back in their half of the first. Chris Denorfia and Cameron Maybin both hit singles off of Rangers starter Matt Harrison, and then Chase Headley doubled home Denorfia, moving Maybin to third base. But Maybin and Headley were left stranded at second and third with no one out when Carlos Quentin flied out to shallow center, Jesus Guzman struck out, and Everth Cabrera grounded out.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Matt Harrison gave up back to back singles to Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin with nobody out. But Jesus Guzman flied out and Harrison struck out Everth Cabrera. Nick Hundley then walked to load the bases with two outs, but Yonder Alonso, who pinch hit for Alexi Amarista, grounded out to end the threat.
Mike Adams, traded to the Rangers toward the end of last season in exchange for Joe Wieland – who is now on the Padres major league roster but rehabilitating a strained right elbow – and minor leaguer Robbie Erlin, pitched the bottom of the eighth inning and allowed a single to Chase Headley. It was Headley’s third hit of the game.
Then after getting both Carlos Quentin and Jesus Guzman to fly out, Adams hit Everth Cabrera with a pitch, moving Headley to second base. But Mark Kotsay flied out to left field pinch hitting for Nick Hundley, which ended the inning.
The ninth inning gave the Padres another chance, this time against closer Joe Nathan. With two outs, Nathan allowed Chris Denorfia and John Baker back-to-back singles, but then got Chase Headley to ground out to preserve the victory and record his fourteenth save of the season.
From the four Rangers hurlers combined, the Padres got a total of nine hits, with Chase Headley going 3 for 5. “I got a couple of pitches to hit, to be honest,” Chase said after the game when asked about his success against Rangers pitchers. “When a guy makes a mistake you’re supposed to hit it.”
Again, the game seemed to boil down to missed opportunities on offense for the Padres, who were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. "We just couldn't get that big hit to give us the lead," Buddy Black said in the post-game press conference. So far, this is a familiar theme concerning the 2012 San Diego Padres.
Josh Hamilton of the Rangers didn't start again as he is recovering from a virus. Hamilton did appear in the ninth inning Monday as a defensive replacement, and could start Tuesday, giving the Rangers back the league leader in runs batted in. Stay tuned.
Jason Marquis struck out ten Rangers on Monday to reach the 1,000 strikeout mark in his 12-year career.
Joe Wieland pitched off of flat ground on Monday afternoon, Wieland is on the disabled list with a strained elbow. While there is no time frame for Wieland's return, Joe said on Monday that his arm was coming along fine.
Utility infielder Andy Parrino, who was put on the disabled list at the end of May with a sore hand, is rehabbing and playing well in AAA Tucson. When asked about having Parrino again healthy, Buddy Black was non-committal as to his possible role with the big club. "He's doing well in his brief return there," Black said. "He's putting into practice some things that we talked about prior to his departure, which is a good compliment to Andy, he's got to keep that going."
Tuesday, the Padres continue inter-league play against the Rangers as they send Edinson Volquez (3-6, 3.70) against the Rangers Scott Feldman (0-6, 6.50). First pitch is at 7:05, televised on Fox Sports San Diego and can be heard on radio XX 1090 AM.