Jun 16, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; San Diego Padres third basemanChase Headley
(left) and designated hitterCarlos Quentin
(right) celebrate after Quentin hit a solo home run against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated San Diego 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Tonight’s matchup against the Mariners wasn’t billed as a must watch by anyone. The result seemed like a foregone conclusion, with one of the best pitchers in baseball, Tyson Ross, going up against someone who hasn’t hit 90 on a major league radar gun since 2009, former Padre Chris Young. But the Padres saw the challenge at hand, and did everything they could to help. This included watching 85 MPH fastballs go down the heart of the plate and bailing out Young by swinging at off-speed pitches all over the place.
To honor the late great Tony Gwynn, the Seattle grounds crew managed to create a number 19 in the 5.5 hole, a hat tip to Gwynn’s amazing ability to hit the ball between the shortstop and third baseman with regularity. They also paid tribute right before first pitch, with a video and moment of silence for him and his loved ones. Overall it was very touching, and a classy move by the Mariners organization.
But unfortunately, there was still a game to be played. The offense was terrible, which is just par for the course at this point, but Ross was just as bad, if not worse. When he comes out, you always expect him to keep the team in the game long enough to score a few runs and have a shot at victory. Tonight was different though, and Ross allowed two homers and five earned runs in the first two innings and walking seven batters in the outing. He managed to calm down and didn’t allow any more runs after that, but the damage was done; a five run lead is all but insurmountable for the team at this point.
If you look closely at the above .gif, you can see some fans brought the brown back with a vintage Tony Gwynn jersey draped over the guardrail and hanging above and to the right of the Boeing advertisement on the wall (if you’re having trouble try to pick out the yellow sleeves)
Pitchers are prone to having poor outings, and tonight was not a bad one for Ross if you erase the first two frames. The more troubling issue is the one that fans have been complaining about all year, and is approaching beaten dead horse territory; the lineup making guys like Chris Young look more like Cy Young.
Young stayed up in the zone with his fastball as he has done this year, yet managed to get outs by mixing in off-speed pitches lower in and out of the zone. His 3.40 ERA is deceiving though, as he also has a 5.14 FIP. Young walks a lot of batters (3.74 BB/9) and strikes out barely any (4.65 K/9) but the Friars were in no position to agree with him on that. The lineup struck out five times in five innings, and only walking once despite Young being erratic with his command, and never finding a good, consistent release point. Young all but handed them opportunities, yet the Padres continued to decline.
The one bright spot was Carlos Quentin, who had a good night collecting two hits in four appearances, one of which was a homer. His production is absolutely vital if the team wants to be taken seriously when they’re at bat, and Quentin is starting to heat up.