I had “managed expectations” for the Padres before they embarked on their just-finished East Coast road-trip. While I did not think that they would win all 10 of their games against the likes of Miami, Boston, and Washington, I certainly did not think that they would lose nine of their upcoming 10 contests.
Sadly, the Friars actually dropped the final nine games of the aforementioned road trip. The most recent of the losses, an 11-7 drubbing, came today at the hands of the Nationals.
Just like he was in Boston, Robbie Erlin was tattooed early and often today against Washington.
With the score 1-1 in the bottom of the third, the wheels came off for the rookie left-hander. After San Diego’s starter issued two walks and a single to load the bases, Ryan Zimmerman blasted an opposite field grand slam to push the Nationals ahead 5-1. Erlin was not done issuing gopher-balls in that frame though. Washington added two more runs on the strength of an Anthony Rendon home run, and suddenly the Padres fell into an insurmountable 7-1 hole.
The Padres crawled somewhat back into the game in the following inning when Alexi Amarista hit a two-run home run which cut the Nationals’ lead to 7-3. Unfortunately, Erlin’s lack of control got him and the Padres into trouble in the bottom of fifth after he issued walks to the first two hitters and threw a wild pitch. Tyson Ross did his best to stop the bleeding in relief, but the Friars still gave up four runs in the frame. Moreover, the big inning all but made Washington’s lead an insurmountable one at 11-3.
Overall, it was another rough outing for Erlin as he gave up nine runs, walked four, and served up two home runs. Besides Zimmerman, who had the grand slam, Bryce Harper (three hits and two runs) and Rendon (two hits, two runs, and three runs batted in) did the most damage to San Diego’s pitching staff as they tried to play damage control all game long.
If Erlin continues to rack up innings of 18+ pitches, then this team is better off using Tim Stauffer as a starter and saving Erlin for long relief outings. Digging these holes, especially ones in the early innings, does not do the Friars or their rookie any good if they wish to improve.
On the other hand, Stephen Strasburg was able to cruise to an easy win with the massive amount of run support his team gave to him. While Strasburg was not particularly dominating, he still pitched around seven hits, two walks, and four runs over six innings of work. The San Diego native and former Aztec did strike out nine hitters to kill potential big innings, and he limited the Friars to a 1-12 mark with runners in scoring position.
To his credit the “Ghost of Chase Headley” played well this afternoon. San Diego’s third baseman recorded three hits, including two doubles, and raised his batting average to .229. Carlos Quentin recorded two of his own, while Amarista had three to go with three runs batted in too. Sadly, their efforts fell short on a day that clearly belonged to Washington’s hitters from start to finish.
The Padres are steadily becoming difficult to watch, and I for one cannot see them winning another game until the All-Star break. Their lineup cannot manufacture runs consistently, their starting rotation digs early-game holes, and the bullpen is one of the least competent in the league.
This team had better get their collective “acts” together, and it must happen fast before any of their mediocre division-mates starts to run away with the National League West. Otherwise, this current nose-dive will get worse before it gets better.
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