Padres lose the first road game at Wrigely Field against the Chicago Cubs 5 – 3, and it is just my luck that I’m writing on a loss again. But despite the downturn, overall for the last week, I’ve seen many incremental improvements from the Padres, and with my rose-tinted glasses I’m happy again. Well at least as much as possible.
The Padres strikeout 14 times, and leave 10 runners on base against the Cubs. Also, Padres only hit 1-10 with RISP, which points a bit to execution issues, but also to bad luck. Clayton Richard goes 5 2/3 innings, and gives up 5 earned runs. They say hindsight is 20-20, but I wonder if it would have been better off to pull him after 5. Clayton came up to hit in the 6 inning after the Cubs pulled their starter, former Notre Dame wide receiver and Brady Quinn compatriot Jeff Samardzija - it would have been good timing. Instead Clayton scuffles a bit in the 6th and is pulled after giving up the tie and an RBI hit Cody Ransom. If you recall, Cody filled in for Chase Headley as the Padres opening day starter at 3B. He had an excellent game, going 2-4 with 2 RBI and HR, and also gets a barehanded defensive play against the Padres. It is strange how players seem to excel against former teams, but that’s the way baseball works.
Regardless the Padres battled, and continued to put pressure on the Cubs and their bullpen throughout the rest of the game, loading the bases with less than 2 outs in the 7th, and putting another 2 runners on base in the 8th, but no break through. Credit the Cubs bullpen as well as they battled their way out for a win. The Padres kept themselves in a position to come back, and that’s a positive - just no break through.
Some of the positives I saw for the Padres, include the pitch selection and patience by Carlos Quentin. Although he struck out 3 times, he also drew 2 walks, and also led the Padres in terms of pitches seen with 25 for the game, wearing out the opposing pitchers. Everth Cabrera also performed well, going 3-4 with a walk and scoring 2 runs, including a heads up play taking home on a wild pitch in first. Overall, I’ve been very satisfied with Everth’s play so far, and he’s establishing himself as a reliable top of the order place setter. His speed gives him some pop on paper, as he can stretch borderline doubles. His OBP has been > 0.350, and he’s great at taking pitches and being a pest. I’ve watched him make regular random use of the bunt as an offensive weapon in his repertoire, keeping infielders off guard and uncomfortable.
Currently, the Padres are sitting at 9-16, and on the outside looking in. So far, I feel better about the hitters than the pitchers. I feel better about the bullpen than the starters. Chris Denorfia? Awesome, he’s been performing like he could be an everyday hitter. Will Venable? His overall slash line is curently 202/280/353. Against LHP, he’s at 182/250/364 and against RHP, he’s 222/300/370. In a tiny sample set, right handed hitter Kyle Blanks is hitting 455/500/727 against LHP. I would like to see Dino shift to everyday CF, and Blanks/Venable platoon in RF while Maybin is recovering.
Another platoon that could help when Logan Forsythe comes back is at 2B. I’m still sold on Jedd Gyorko and I’m sure he’s going through a growth process, but at the same time, a player can still grow in space and Jedd does seem to struggle a bit, especially in big situations. Strangely, as right handed hitter, he’s shown early struggles with lefties. His splits show that against RHP, he’s at 270/319/333, but against LHP, there’s a sizeable drop off at 182/308/273. As rookie, there appears to be a large amount of variability in his numbers regarding splits, including home and away, which could be a sign of constant adjustments and growth and change. Although Buddy Black has been using the term “small sample size” to explain the bad early results - in statistics, 100 data points is a pretty solid set to establish a pattern for normally distributed data. See Central Limit Theorem. Logan Forsythe’s 2012 splits were 384/465/545 against LHP, and 222/284/319 against RHP. Teaming Logan and Jedd at 2B will allow them to get good match-ups initially and help both of them grow and the team.