The Padres mental mistakes and lack of hustle might just make this Bud Black’s last day as the Padres manager.
In the rubber game of the series against the Mets, the Padres once again managed only four hits and one run. But it was two baserunning plays in the 7th inning that may have sealed Black’s fate.
With the Padres down 3-1, Alexi Amarista led off with a line shot to shortstop. Amarista stopped running, but Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores dropped the ball. With Amarista at a near-dead-stop, Flores had plenty of time to make the throw to first to retire him. Mental error #1.
Yasmani Grandal, the Padres starting catcher at the beginning of the year who has been relegated to a backup role due to his overall poor play and the surprising emergence of Rene Rivera as an able hitter, followed Amarista’s gaffe with a single over the head of the second baseman. Will Venable followed with a grounder to second, a custom-made double play ball. But the fielder bobbled the ball. And that would have made a difference, except that Grandal never made it to second base. Inexplicably, he just turned out of the basepath to start jogging back to the dugout. He didn’t try to break up the double-play with a slide. He just gave up. He gave up before he saw the outcome of the play. And it cost the Padres a chance to have men on first and second with one out in a game in which they were down by two runs. And which they eventually lost 3-1.
This happened two days after Padres CEO Mike Dee and executive chairman Ron Fowler stated their outright disapproval of the Padres on-field results, and indicated that changes would be coming if things did not change dramatically and quickly.
They cannot possibly be happy after this game.
The Mets led this game from the beginning, although the game remained close throughout.
The game got off to an inauspicious start. After leadoff hitter Will Venable drew a walk, Everth Cabrera laid down a good sacrifice bunt. But Venable attempted to go from first to third on the play, and was thrown out by a good five feet. The Padres failed to score. While this might have been a poor decision, we’re more likely to forgive errors when they stem from overly aggressive play. But it was still a questionable decision.
Met’s starter Daisuke Matsuzaka seemed to have some sort of issue during the inning, as Mets manager Terry Collins and the trainer and umpire visited the mound, but Matsuzaka finished the inning without incident.
Mets leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson greeted Padres starter Ian Kennedy by putting his second pitch into the upper deck in right field for a 1-0 Mets lead. The next three hitters went double-walk-double, and Kennedy was facing a 2-0 deficit with men on second and third with nobody out. Kennedy dug in, struck out Andrew Brown, and induced two foul pop ups to strand the runners without further damage.
Dice-K did not come out for the second inning. Righty Carlos Torres was the new pitcher, after Dice-K was removed. It was announced later in the game that Dice-K was suffering from an intense stomach illness. Padres fans would be sick to their stomachs later in the game.
The Padres greeted Torres with three straight singles, topped off with an RBI knock by Rene Rivera, cutting the Mets’ lead to 2-1.
The Mets got that run back without a hit in the bottom of the second. Number 8 hitter Anthony Recker led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly, putting the Mets up 3-1. Recker did not attempt to go first-to-third on the sacrifice.
Seth Smith, who had reached base five times in five plate appearances against Dice-K, including a first-inning walk, must have been sad to see him go. But Smith drew a second walk against reliever Vic Black leading off the sixth. Black was quite wild, consistently missing the strike zone by a large margin. Black had six walks in 10.1 innings entering the game. Chase Headley followed with another walk, bringing up Carlos Quentin with a chance to put the Padres ahead with a long ball. Quentin had already broken his 1-for-34 slump with a second inning single, but couldn’t get it done this time, flying out to short right field. Black then started finding the strike zone, and the Padres failed to take advantage of the two gift baserunners.
Kennedy struggled throughout, but managed to hold the Mets to 3 runs in 5.1 innings on 7 hits and 4 walks.
Bobby Abreu continued to pound Padres pitching, ending up 5-for-9 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI in the series. Abreu’s first-inning RBI double drove in the Mets’ second run.
While the Padres’ offense continued to struggle to score against all pitchers, it was the lack of hustle by Grandal that was the lasting image of this game. Bud Black may be playing that over and over in his mind when standing in the unemployment line later this week.