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Brae Canlen 8:30 a.m., April 20
Jedd Gyorko began the season at third base for an injured Chase Headley and then transitioned to second base upon Headley’s return, and everyone wondered how the rookie would handle it. Gyorko hadn’t played second base since his college days at West Virginia, and your prototypical third baseman is there for a reason, generally because of a lack of range.
And then, how does such a move affect the player’s hitting? Having to learn to pivot on the double play, shorten your throw to first base, field your position from an aspect of thinking rather than reacting, and learning to hit major league breaking balls all at the same time?
Nothing rattles Jedd. His three-run bomb in the top of the third inning sealed the deal for the Padres and they went on to beat the Pirates 5-2 on Tuesday.
After Gyorko got the Padres the three run lead, the Pirates got two off of Padres starter Eric Stults in the bottom of the third inning. But that was it for the Pirates offensively, as the Padres came back in the fourth inning for a run, and scored again in the seventh inning to ice the game.
Stults went five innings to get the win, then Tim Stauffer followed with two innings of perfect relief, followed by Nick Vincent in the eighth. Vincent is pitching himself into a possible role as future set-up man, and since closer Huston Street is on personal leave to attend to the death of his grandmother, current set-up man Luke Gregerson closed out the ninth inning for the save.
But this game belonged to Gyorko. Jedd was 3 for 5 and made some spectacular plays in the field. He is from West Virginia, attended the University of West Virginia, and had plenty of friends and family on hand to witness his outstanding performance since Pittsburgh is a short hour and a half drive from Jedd’s home town.
Honorable mention should go to Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno was signed in early August after being released by the Houston Astros and has filled in well since the 50-game suspension of starting shortstop Everth Cabrera.
Not only has Cedeno’s hitting improved under the tutorage of Padres hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell, his fielding – although it was expected that Cedeno could fill the position defensively with adequate execution – has been much better than expected.
Cedeno went 3 for 4 and made some incredible defensive plays on Tuesday. Other notable offensive efforts include Tommy Medica (2 for 4) and Will Venable (2 for 5). These last games could be promising portents for the 2014 season if the Padres continue their fine run into the end of September.
If you’re the visual type and you want a good video recap of the game (including Gyorko’s home run), MLB.com encourages you to hit this link:
Kyle Blanks might have hurt himself again, falling flat while attempting to get to a ball hit toward the gap on Tuesday. Blanks stayed in for a couple of innings after the play, but Alexi Amarista came in to start the bottom of the sixth inning for Blanks, which isn’t usually considered as a defensive replacement and no double-switch was involved. You’ll know when we know.
Wednesday, the third game of the four-game series kicks off at 4:05 PM PDST. Tyson Ross (3-8, 3.29) will take the bump for the Padres while the Pirates will try to right their ship with Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.54) on the hill. Listen in on radio 1090 AM or catch the visuals on Fox Sports San Diego.