While a 34-34 record is not particularly amazing, I am sure that many people did not believe that the Friars would be a .500 ball-club this late in the 2013 regular season. Lowered expectations aside, San Diego improved to .500 on the year with a 6-4 victory over Arizona in game two of their three-game series.
The Padres were very lucky that the Diamondbacks did not break the game open early, especially since Jason Marquis got off to a difficult start.
The veteran right-hander had issues with his control over the first four innings, and his walks definitely got him into trouble. After he issued a two-out walk to Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the first, Miguel Montero made him pay with a dinger to right field. Then in the top of the fourth, Arizona extended their lead to 3-0 after Jason issued two free passes in that frame. Luckily for Marquis, he was helped out with some stellar play in the outfield while he worked on his command.
Chris Denorfia, Kyle Blanks and Logan Forsythe, who started his first game in left field this year, all made some spectacular plays in the early going. Most of all though, those particular catches kept potential extra-base-hits from falling and kept the Friars within striking distance. The Padres needed the deficit to stay at three tonight too, because their hitters failed to rattle Wade Miley until the bottom of the fourth.
Just like last night, San Diego’s hitters came alive in the middle of the game to push the Friars in front. Everth Cabrera deserves kudos for his hustle play when he went first to third on an error by Didi Gregorius to set the Padres up with him and Denorfia on with zero outs to begin the inning.
After Chase Headley singled home Cabrera and Forsythe hit a sacrifice fly which scored Denorfia, the stage was set for Yasmani Grandal to swing momentum in San Diego’s direction. With the game 3-2 and Blanks on third and Jesus Guzman on first after a two-out single, Grandal absolutely tattooed a Miley pitch into the second-deck of the left-center field seats!
Suddenly, the Friars were up 5-3 and the lead itself really gave Marquis some added confidence. The veteran then began to locate his pitches better over the next 1.2 innings, and his ability to keep the Diamondbacks off of the scoreboard for the duration of his start was downright fantastic. To his credit, Marquis won his ninth game of the season and is now ranked among the league leaders in that statistical category.
After Grandal’s blast, the Padres added their final run in the bottom of the sixth when Blanks muscled a solid inside pitch by Miley into the left field corner. With a 6-3 lead, San Diego’s bullpen went to work and did their jobs as they limited Arizona’s hitters to only one run over the game’s final three innings.
The Padres will go for the sweep tomorrow and a chance to push their record over the .500 mark for the season. To win tomorrow, the Friars will need another solid outing from their starting rotation. That task will fall to the struggling Clayton Richard, and the left-hander is absolutely due for a win at this point in the regular season.
Tomorrow’s game begins at 1:10 PDT, so let’s hope that the Friars can break out the brooms for a second straight series.