Another night at the ballpark, another close, low-scoring loss for the Padres. Like last season, San Diego has yet again fallen victim to woes at the plate, and the Padres just cannot find ways to plate runs on a consistent basis. Yet what makes this season so far more particularly difficult to watch is that San Diego is actually managing to get guys on base and doing it more effectively than in 2011. Still, the Padres are floundering Offensively seven games into the new year, only now the situational hitting is beginning to take a downward spiral and prevent San Diego from breaking games open and realizing their full potential.
As I stated before, the Padres are by no means struggling to get on base in the early going this season. In fact, as of yesterday San Diego was ranked 2nd in the League in Walks (33) and ranked 12th in the League in On Base Percentage with a .311 mark as a team. Third Baseman Chase Headley is tied for the League lead in Walks and the team as a whole has been much more successful at getting guys on base than they were last season. The Padres’ big issue though has been getting not only productive Outs with guys on base, but actually keeping Innings alive with big and important hits. Sadly, last night’s game provided some perfect examples of the Padres’ inefficient nature of plating runs so far this season despite having some base runners on in what were supposed to be cake-walk run producing situations. Let’s take a look at the bottom of the 1st shall we:
After plating one run upon opening the game with three straight hits, the Padres had men on 1st and 2nd with 0 outs, that’s right 0 outs. What made this situation appear even better at the time was that San Diego had it’s #4, #5, and #6 hitters coming to the plate in Jesus Guzman, Yonder Alonso, and Nick Hundley that had the ability to break the game wide open. Ian Kennedy was on the ropes, and it appeared that San Diego smelled blood in the water. Unfortunately, nothing happened for the team that is hitting .183 as a whole and at the bottom of Major League Baseball in Batting Average, and most disappointingly: 9th in the League in Strikeouts with 51.
In fact, Guzman, Alonso, and Hundley all managed to Strike Out and not even put the ball in play in their three combined At-Bats in the 1st. That’s right, all three K’d and Kennedy escaped almost unharmed after allowing a Triple and two Singles to start the game!
All that was needed was two of the three guys to get decent wood on the ball and Will Venable would have scored on two sac flies or even a ground out to the other side of the infield. Heck, if one of the three got a hit, Venable and Headley might have crossed the plate and a 3-0 lead could have been hung up on the D-Backs after the 1st. Plus, Anthony Bass would have been in a perfect situation to succeed last night, rather than having worry about clinging onto a 1 run lead until he was pulled.
For a team as Offensively Challenged as San Diego (20 total Runs in first 6 games), leaving multiple “ducks on the pond” is simply an absolute no-no. What worse is that it is especially harmful for a team to do early in the game when a team like the Padres can bury the opposition and drive the confidence of the starter down. But hey, it is what it is, and it is a problem that must be addressed soon.
Don’t get me wrong, there were 8 other Innings to play last night, and the Padres had 24 more Outs to work with to score more Runs. But the fact that the game was already 1-0, at Petco, with runners on 1st and 2nd, and the middle of the order coming up, and no more Runs were scored the rest of the night is pretty darn hard to swallow as a fan and difficult to watch to boot.
I mean, I’m not pushing the proverbial “panic button” yet, because I am encouraged that San Diego has been able to get players actually on the base paths this season, and the team On Base Percentage Level is at a respectable level. But when players continue to Strike Out and make unproductive Outs with said guys on base, it doesn’t really matter how many guys can get Walks and work counts and drive pitch counts up throughout the game. The hits with 2 Outs, and hits with runners in scoring position must begin to happen for San Diego, and must start post haste. Otherwise, the Padres are going to find themselves on the losing end of a whole heck of a lot of 1-0 and 2-1 affairs in games they actually have a legitimate shot at winning.
So let’s cross our fingers Friars Fans, and hope that the situational hitting begins sooner rather than later. Guys like Alonso and Hundley are due to break out of their slumps, Carlos Quentin could be returning soon, and maybe after a game or two soon the team can get back on the right track and start helping to plate those runs on a consistent basis.
Stats Provided by: ESPN.com