Walter Mencken 10:17 a.m., Dec. 18
Padres take down Nationals in heroic fashion
The Nationals Ryan Zimmermann is off to a fast start, but the Padres found a way to get to him thanks to whoever you choose to credit with the victory.
When you watch and you analyze a baseball game, it’s often difficult to choose just one hero in a team sport where individual efforts can stand out and yet still collide and mesh with other individual efforts. Such is the case in the game on Saturday where the Padres beat the Washington Nationals, 2-1.
The obvious hero is Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults. Stults went eight innings giving up just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five. Oh, and Stults entered the sixth inning with a no-hitter, which as most Friar faithful know, is still a dubious distinction owned by the Padres as the only team in Major League Baseball to not have had.
“That’s a game that [Stults] is capable of, we saw the mix of pitches, we’ve talked about it before, that’s how he does it, no surprises there,” said manager Buddy Black. “I thought today the inside fastball was extremely effective, especially to the right-handed hitters and I think he had a really good change-up.”
And Eric enjoyed the experience, but ultimately praised his catcher, John Baker, for contributing his success. “I can’t give [Baker] enough credit,” Stults said postgame.
“Baker called a good game. He’s one of those guys who you’re on the same page with, there’s not a whole lot of [shaking-off] pitches when he catches, he kind of knows what you like to do as a pitcher, and that’s key to get into a rhythm with your catcher and just throw what he puts down.”
And then there’s the humble Yonder Alonso. All that Yonder did was to homer to right, and then pull off the tricky 1-3 double-play in a crucial spot, in the third inning.
Kurt Suzuki drew a walk, and then with Jedd Gyorko covering first base so that Yonder Alonso could field the bunt that Nationals starting pitcher Ryan Zimmerman laid down, Gyorko missed the catch and Suzuki stood on third and Zimmerman on second base. And there was only one out.
Denard Span then smacked a line drive off of Stults’ left leg which went straight to first baseman Alonso. Alonso then noted that there were two men standing on third base and he tagged out a confused Suzuki to complete the double play – the likes of which you won’t see often if ever.
“Kind of a big unorthodox big double-play,” Eric Stults said after the game. “Good ricochet right to Alonso there.” Indeed it was.
But if you need an unsung hero in need of a choir, how about John Baker? Baker did nothing more than to call a stellar game by all accounts, throw out two potential thefts at second base in critical situations, and hit a single in the bottom of the eighth inning that began the rally that eventually led to the Padres win.
Honorable mention goes to Huston Street for saving his tenth of eleven attempts. “He knows how to work his way through a ninth inning, and he did today,” said Buddy Black.
So, pick your own hero. Everth Cabrera was 2 for 4. Other contributions were crucial as well. Or else, you can simply call this a team win, because it was. Aren’t all wins for the Padres team wins?
The corresponding move in bringing back the proud father Carlos Quentin (congrats, Carlos, on your boy Clark) into the fold from paternity leave was to option pitcher Brad Brach down to AAA Tucson. This means that Burch Smith will get one more start (Wednesday) and Clayton Richard will rehab one more game there in AAA Tucson when they visit Omaha. For Brad, it means working on his location, and for Burch, it means one more outing to adjust to major league pitching, and for Carlos, it means hey, next time you’re in the lineup, your son has a legacy. From experience, I can tell you that the feeling is amazing.
Sunday, the Padres will try and get a split with the Nationals in the final game of this four-game series. Washington will pit Dan Haren (4-4, 4.76) against Andrew Cashner (2-2, 2.84) for the Padres. Game time is 1:10 PM PDST, with the usual suspects bringing you the call. Radio 1090 AM along with Fox Sports San Diego for the televised version.
More like this:
- Snakes bite Padres in Arizona — May 25, 2013
- Burch better but not quite good enough yet — May 18, 2013
- Padres prevail over Giants in wild extra-innings game — April 28, 2013
- Padres take down Dodgers in Los Angeles — April 16, 2013
- Padres Back in Form, Beat Braves — Aug. 14, 2012