Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Padres loosely take down Cardinals
With the Padres on a bit of a roll, the loose clubhouse takes the first game of three from St. Louis
It was a very loose Padres clubhouse as reporters entered a little under four hours before first pitch on Monday afternoon. Very loose. And whatever non-baseball related activities were going on in there paid off, as the Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday evening, 4-2.
Apparently, Eric Stults has a great jump-shot, something that took everyone by surprise. In the center of the Padres club house hangs a round metal structure that houses four flat-screen televisions, and a basketball hoop was attached to one side.
Not a regulation hoop, but a miniature one, and a small basketball was being launched with incredible accuracy by Eric. Why not have some fun in the club house before batting practice?
There were more shenanigans in store for later, but first to the game. Jason Marquis started for the Padres and was given a one run lead when Chase Headley singled in Everth Cabrera.
In the top of the second inning, the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs, and Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller reached on a rare fielding error by Chase Headley and the Cardinals tied the game 1-1, still with the bases loaded. The count went full on Matt Carpenter and more damage loomed, but Marquis struck him out.
“I got ahead of him, the 1-2 and 2-2 pitches were not quite what I wanted, but I stuck with it, I felt it was the right pitch. After misfiring twice in a row, I felt like the third time I was able to make the pitch, and whether or not he swung on it I think it would have been a strike and I got the result I wanted and was able to go smooth sailing from there,” Marquis said.
In the top of the third inning the Cardinals took the lead after a single and a double put runners on second and third with no one out. A double-play ball allowed a run to score and St. Louis took the lead 2-1.
The Padres waited until the sixth inning to get back at the Cardinals. With two outs and Padres on first and second, Shelby Miller was replaced on the mound with reliever Fernando Salas.
Chris Denorfia banged a single up the middle, and Carlos Quentin came around to score. John Baker then walked, and Salas plunked Jesus Guzman with a pitch to plate Jedd Gyorko and the Padres took a 3-2 lead.
Will Venable tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run, and the Padres took a 4-2 lead that would stand up. But there was more fun and games going on in the dugout leading into the top of the eighth inning.
With one out and left-hander Joe Thatcher obviously coming out of the game, there was a report that a game of rock-paper-scissors was being played in the dugout between the outfielders as to who would be taking right, left, and center field in the middle of a two-player switch that would bring left fielder Carlos Quentin to the bench for reliever Luke Gregerson. As it turns out, that report was accurate.
“We do sort of have a strategy of what we’re doing,” manager Buddy Black said after the game concerning the incident. “But yeah, if you want to say Rochambeau, I’m in.”
Rochambeau is the French term for the game rock-paper-scissors, and Buddy obviously had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek with the statement. Will Venable clarified the situation postgame.
“You know, it’s a merry-go-round late in games when Alexi [Amarista] comes out there, and we all have to shift over to where we match up better. And [Chris Denorfia] and I, we weren’t going to move without him earning it, and Deno decided that rock-paper-scissors was the way [Alexi] was going to earn it. He didn’t win, but we can’t override what Buddy tells us to do,” Venable said with a grin.
Even without a miniature basketball game in the clubhouse the guys were having fun with a two-run lead in the dugout, but the event was a part of some hijinks. “They’re told. They follow instructions. They’re good listeners,” Buddy clarified after the game.
Tuesday, we’ll see if the shenanigans and the loose clubhouse fun continues when Edinson Volquez (3-4, 5.55) throws for the Friars against Adam Wainwright (5-3, 2.51) for the Cardinals in game two of the three-game series. Game time is 7:10 PM PDST with 1090 AM carrying the radio signal and Fox Sports San Diego televising the spectacle.