Nail Biting Hits Epidemic Levels in San Diego

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Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Fists clenched, knees shaking, nail-biting, and creative rally caps are all outward signs of a close game being watched. The gut-wrenching, internal stress are the inward signs. Turns out, watching a Padres game often causes both of these reactions this season.

As reported by Scott Miller of MLB.com, the Padres rank first in the majors…in “games decided by 2 runs or less”. Amazingly, 30 of the Padres first 45 games have been decided by two or fewer runs! The good news is that the Padres do come out even (15-15) on such games, though not a huge consolation prize.

Jedd Gyorko for one is looking at the bright side, noting that “…I think it will benefit us down the road.  Obviously, you’d love to be up five or ten runs. But when you’re swinging the bat not as well as you’d like, there are a lot of close games…” I think Jedd has a point, as the Padres’ pitching continues to shut down the opposition. Tyson Ross was again masterful in last night’s 2-0 loss.  Another one, yes.

In looking at the month of May alone, the Padres have played 12 of these games, going 4-8. More interesting is in those games they weren’t all 2-0 or 3-1 games as you may expect. One against the Royals was a  6-5 win, a 5-4 win against the Marlins, and they even managed a 6-8 loss to Colorado! So in certain games their offense has stepped up to appropriate levels necessary to win. It seems once a spark is lit – they can score more.  Unfortunately, most nights this season no one has lit that match.

Fox Sports San Diego TV commentator Dick Enberg noted that in last night’s game after a Chase Headley fly out in the 9th inning, that Chase seemed frustrated. He scanned the bench and noted that everyone seemed frustrated.  Vacant stares, no movement, and no smiles. Where is the passion? Losing is no fun. Losing 2-0 when you know your starting pitcher gave it his all is downright painful. Repeating the same cycle over and over? Enough to drive you crazy. The Padres tried having Tommy Medica to kick-start the emotions earlier this season to no avail. After a hot April, Everth Cabrera has cooled down considerably in the month of May and his average is back down under .200. Speed is great but not if you never get on base. You won’t get many RBI when half of your starters are hitting under .200–it doesn’t even start to bring excitement into the stadium.

The question is how do the Padres get over this hump? Gyorko is right–the pitching is keeping them here now. Though as the starting rotation starts to crack under injuries, that may not last. The offense needs to consistently step up to help out. Cameron Maybin is hitting .300, Seth Smith continues to hit well, and Gyorko is showing signs of heating up.  They just need a few more pieces to work together. Or before we know it, we won’t have any fingernails left at all.

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