Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
John Baker is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Personable, easy to talk to. He's the perfect back-up catcher, he knows his role and he's entirely comfortable in it. He calls a good game, never mind he might not have the plus arm of a starting catcher.
But what is an obvious issue with the San Diego Padres occurred before the game ever started. One clue to their woes was the batting order of the starting line-up. John Baker was stated to bat fifth. Buddy Black might never admit this, but it's a good guess that he wasn't thinking of that batting order when he went to sleep the night before.
And that might not be fair to Baker, although he would likely never admit it.
Third baseman Chase Headley came up lame on Tuesday with a bad back, and the order was adjusted accordingly. Headley, who had been batting third for most of the season, was a late scratch as he continued to receive treatment in the clubhouse by trainers in case he was needed to pinch hit later in the game. It turns out that it wouldn't have made a difference.
The Cardinals took the second game of the three-game series on the current road trip, 4-0. Starter Adam Wainwright, who wasn't exactly nails in the Cardinals rotation, seemed to baffle Padres hitting as he pitched the complete game shutout. The Padres only managed four hits and one walk, allowing Wainwright to record 9 strikeouts against them.
Padres starter Edinson Volquez, who has pitched much better than his record indicates (2-4), gave up only 5 hits, but walked four. But with no run support, he would have never had a chance, regardless. Sub-par defense didn't help Volquez either, as Everth Cabrera bobbled a tailor-made double-play ball in the sixth inning.
Again, it wouldn't have mattered in the win column, Offense needs to score runs in baseball, at least one in order to win. It isn't as though the boys aren't trying. They simple aren't executing. In every post-game press conference, in so many words Buddy Black points this out.
The Cardinals' Carlos Beltran knocked in a run in the first, and although the Padres were down 1-0, that score held up for six innings. But the Padres failed to seriously threaten, offensively. "We couldn't get anything going," Buddy Black said after the game.
With a Cardinals on first and third base and no outs, Beltran drove in the second run of the game on a fielder's choice in the sixth inning on a play where Yonder Alonso threw to third, perhaps a little too soon. It appeared that had Alonso ran towards the Cardinals runner in order to get him to commit to a base, they could have caught the runner either at third or at home. As it happened, the rookie threw to third and the runner scored, and it was 2-0 Cardinals.
Later in the inning, Volquez served up a pitch and Tyler Greene seemed to hit an easy ball to Everth Cabrera at shortstop for what should have been an easy inning-ending double-play. Instead, Cabrera bobbled the catch and could only manage the force-out at second base. There is no error on the play because there is no guarantee that the double-play would have been turned, but it should have been by the estimation of many, and likely by Cabrera as well.
Padres reliever Alex Hinshaw relieved Volquez in the seventh and walked Rafael Furcal to lead off the inning. One out later, Matt Holiday doubled home Furcal, and that completed the scoring. The Padres last threat in the bottom of the ninth was quashed when Jesus Guzman grounded out with two men on base.
What was it that Yoda once said? "“Do or do not... there is no try.” Of course, Yoda probably never played baseball. But the Padres offense would be very wise to take that little green guy's advice, because the Padres are now 4-12 on the road, and there's a lot of road left to go.
And there are a lot of pitchers to face that are better than Adam Wainwright was on Tuesday evening, regardless of the respect paid to him by Buddy Black after Tuesday's game.
Pitcher Matt Palmer, who had been called up on Sunday as Nick Vincent was sent back down to AAA Tucson, pitched an inning in Tuesday night's game against the Cardinals. Palmer went and inning and struck out one Cardinal hitter in his major league debut with the Padres. Palmer saw MLB time with the Giants and the Angels before signing with the Padres to a minor league deal.
No solid word on Headley's back, possibly more tomorrow. Chase's performance has been up and down, but without Carlos Quentin in the line-up, it makes it more difficult to provide protection for certain players, and pitchers have to be careful with Headley. More on Chase as we get it.
Speaking of Quentin, he is actually playing in Arizona, although there is no timeline as to when he begins rehab in earnest again. The fact that Carlos is on the field and participating in baseball activity is encouraging. He had a setback a week ago with his recently surgically-repaired knee and rested for quite a few days.
Wednesday, Jeff Suppan (2-2, 3.00) takes the mound for the Padres against Lance Lynn (6-1. 2.31) of the Cardinals. Same time, 5:15 PM PDST, although it's a little screwy that the Padres don't get an early game there seeing as how they fly to New York to take on the Mets directly after the game. At any rate, again, Fox Sports San Diego on television (nothing from Time Warner Cable, they must really hate their own customer service people to put them through this), and XX 1090 AM on radio.