After San Diego’s bullpen worked 11.2 innings last night, their pitching staff needed a strong and long outing from their starter this evening. Because Clayton Richard finished the final three innings of Friday’s game, rookie Robbie Erlin was called upon to fill in for the veteran.
Unfortunately for Toronto, the big stage did not frighten Erlin in his first career start. In a solid effort, the rookie left-hander scattered two runs and eight hits during 6.2 strong innings of work. I for one was quite pleased to see how well Erlin pitched out of jams too, particularly a “two-on two-out” situation in the bottom of the sixth. It also helped that the rookie was provided with some run support early on in the game.
Although the Blue Jays drew first blood with a Colby Rasmus single in the top of the second, the Friars answered back strongly in the bottom half of the inning.
Kyle Blanks tied the game at 1-1 after he singled home Jedd Gyorko on a ball that was misplayed by Edwin Encarnacion. But it was Everth Cabrera who came up huge with the bases loaded and two outs later in the frame. San Diego’s shortstop plated Yasmani Grandal and Blanks when he hit a dribbler to the right of Toronto’s starter Mark Buehrle. Cabrera’s speed forced the pitcher to rush his throw to first, the forced throw skipped past Adam Lind and the Padres took a 3-1 lead on a ball that barely reached the mound.
Everth then followed up his first run scoring single with another run scoring infield-single in the bottom of the fourth. Cabrera’s second hit proved to be very important as it was San Diego’s final run and what ended up being the game-winning run.
After Erlin exited the game, Dale Thayer and Luke Gregerson came on to finish it for San Diego. And it was Gregerson who definitely made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. After Gregerson retired Munenori Kawasaki to start the inning, he allowed three straight hits and the Padres’ lead was closed to 4-3. Unfazed by Toronto’s offensive outburst, Luke managed to get Emilio Bonifacio and Jose Bautista out as he finished the game and preserved the win for the Friars.
Overall, the Padres did a solid job tonight as they did just enough of everything to emerge victorious. Erlin’s outing helped the bullpen and starting rotation out immensely, and San Diego’s hitters made Toronto’s pitchers and fielders pay for their mistakes.