Despite the game featuring Angel Hernandez behind the plate, both managers actually stayed in the game until the finish. This game had all the makings of a blowout, with the Braves throwing out Ervin Santana who was ready to feast on our strikeout prone lineup.
We countered with 37 year old Jason Lane, a converted outfielder who made his first career start. In Atlanta. Against a tough Braves lineup. And then simply because baseball is weird, Lane pitched right there with the lights-out Santana. He stayed scoreless over 6 innings, until the levee finally broke in the seventh on a solo shot by Evan Gattis on a hanging slider.
The real story of this game though was Santana. He struck out a ridiculous 11 Padres hitters, absolutely eating them up with his slider. He built the bridge for Craig Kimbrel to come in and slam the door for a 2-0 save. Of course, behind every great pitching performance is a team of fielders keeping the goose eggs on the board, and Andrelton Simmons dazzled the crowd today.
— MLB (@MLB) July 28, 2014
Lane wasn’t quite as electric as Santana, but he was great in his own right today. He was efficient with his pitches, getting early outs and even picked up a couple strikeouts. He kept his three pitch mix of fastball/slider/changeup working well throughout the game, inducing weak contact and keeping the Braves hitters fooled right up until the third time through the order. Back to back hits to lead off the seventh, including the bomb from El Oso Blanco, spelled the end of the day for Lane at just 92 pitched. But manager Bud Black could tell he was out of gas and hitters were getting much better swings.
This really was an excellent sign for the Padres. No one needs Jason Lane to come in and become and ace, especially at the ripe age of 37 which is juuuust past his prime. Despite not being a core piece of the future, Lane at the very least should become a strong bullpen arm who can come in and get outs when he needs them. His 46% grounder rate so far in the majors is right in line with his minors numbers, and relievers like him create value by being able to come in and get double plays.
Today was another disappointment on the long list we’ve had this season. Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso are back, and both look as terrible as ever. Seth Smith has finally come back down from the stratosphere to just “really good” and there’s no secondary offense to make up for it.
Fortunately, this season has been washed down the drain long ago, but that still doesn’t make it any easier on the fans who still watch. One day, I promise, we will have an actual, competent offense.