Just as they did last night, the Padres seized a lead over the Diamondbacks after a towering three-run home run. The only difference was that it was Kyle Blanks who played the hero today instead of Yasmani Grandal.
Blanks’ three-run dinger broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth, and the win earlier today nudged the Padres over the .500 mark for the year.
San Diego finally broke through in the eighth after most of their hitters failed to do anything versus Ian Kennedy and Arizona’s bullpen. In fact, outside of Will Venable’s monster home run to right-center field in the bottom of the third, only Everth Cabrera (3-4 today) appeared to be locked-in at the plate.
“Cabby” actually got the rally going with one out in that particular frame when he singled to right field off of David Hernandez. After Alexi Amarista failed to move Cabrera over, Chase Headley kept the inning alive with a walk.
I might be a Padres fan, but the pitch that sent Headley to first with a full-count might very well have been a strike. Thankfully, Headley’s walk gave Blanks his chance and number 88 drilled a pitch close to one of the porches attached to the Western Metal Supply building.
Blanks however was not the only star of today’s game. In fact, probably the biggest reason why San Diego was deadlocked in a 1-1 tie to begin with in the bottom of the eighth was because of Clayton Richard’s terrific work on the mound.
Before this afternoon, the veteran left-hander’s only win of the season came in relief duty when he was forced to pitch in San Diego’s 17th inning marathon against Toronto. Richard had probably underachieved more than any of the Padres’ regular starters this season, and he was definitely due for a strong performance.
Overall, Clayton pitched to contact masterfully and took full advantage of Arizona’s over-aggressiveness at the plate. While he was not particularly overpowering (one strikeout), he still managed to scatted seven hits and allowed only one run during eight solid innings of work. An outing like this should be a huge confidence boost for Richard, and hopefully a spring-board for later success this season.
As I mentioned before, this victory was not only the Padres’ sixth in a row, but pushed them over the .500 mark for the first time since April of 2011. Now that the Friars are only two games out of first place in the N.L. West though, it is not time for them to rest on their laurels. Tomorrow San Diego will begin the first of a three game series against the Giants, and I hope that they can come up with another sweep against another divisional foe.