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Burch Smith (pictured) is like this great casserole dish you just know is going to turn out fantastic. The ingredients are promising and the recipe has been followed to the letter, and so you put that Corningware full of awesome into the oven of minor league baseball and let it cook and simmer according to plan.

The problem with Burch Smith – and any casserole dish projected to be so stellar – is how long you leave the project in the oven to cook. Burch gave up three home runs on Friday evening in San Francisco and the Giants rolled to a 7-3 win over the Padres.

Back in May, the Padres yanked Burch out of AA San Antonio and threw him into the big leagues and the results weren’t the best. In three starts – two of which didn’t see him get out of the second inning – Burch amassed an earned run average of 18.41 and he was summarily sent back down to cook some more in the minor leagues.

Called up again in late June, Burch assumed a relief role, and the results were better, albeit the pressure of starting a game was relieved and Smith was introduced into a more stress-free environment. And then, sent down again, back into the warm and comforting oven of AAA Tucson, Burch went back to excelling at dominating minor league hitting.

When Major League Baseball expanded their rosters in September, Burch came up again, and looked much better. It’s easy to see the attraction. His two-seam fastball has dazzling movement, his curve breaks well, and his change-up is a full 10 MPH slower than the fastball.

But commanding those pitches hasn’t been consistent with Burch; in the minors, his fastball is enough to enable him to dominate hitters, but in the big leagues you need a lot more than a fastball. A big league pitcher commands all of his pitches if he’s to be successful, and Burch hasn’t done that on a consistent basis and Friday night was an example of that.

It was Burch’s last start of the season, and soon he’ll be off to the Arizona Fall League, where teams filled with rosters from several MLB teams compete while gaining valuable instruction from good coaching from all around the league. Expect Burch Smith to do well there, and hope that he learns to better command those promising pitches.

It’s a lot like baking a great casserole dish. If the ingredients are right and proportioned properly, the only other factors are time and temperature in the oven. In the case of Burch Smith, he’ll be a major league pitcher, it’s just a question of how much longer he’ll need to get to that point where he can command those pitches.

High points of Friday’s game? Rookie Jedd Gyorko went 3 for 4 with a double, Logan Forsythe came off of the bench to pinch-hit a homer, and overall, the Padres got some hits, but pitching did them in. Perhaps they were due for it, since pitching has been comparatively good in the month of September.


Notes:

Again, no Kyle Blanks and no Ronny Cedeno in the lineup on Friday, so we’ll see what the last two games of the season will bring. Neither player needs to see more time on the field, but especially in the case of Cedeno – who is recovering from being hit on the helmet with a fastball – it would be comforting to know that he’s recovering well enough to play a game. We’ll see what happens.

Saturday, the Giants and Padres resume action in the battle for 3rd place, for which the teams are currently tied. The Padres will offer Eric Stults (10-13, 3.94) against Yusmeiro Petit (4-0, 2.94) for the Giants. Game time is 1:05 PM PDST, heard on radio 1090 AM and seen on Fox Sports San Diego. Since the Giants sell out every home game, unless you have tickets or have connections I don’t want to know about, we’ll all be enjoying this at home or – if you’re a Time Warner subscriber – in your local sports bar.

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