Jul 1, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (22) hits an RBI single during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
“Padres” and “offense” are words that seldom appear in the same sentence, except when discussing the lack of it. That wasn’t the case Tuesday night against the Reds.
The team combined for 11 hits off starter Mike Leake, and five more against the Reds’ bullpen. Every slot in the lineup managed at least one hit, as even the pinch hitter Jake Goebbert came in to knock a first pitch liner for a single. They ended up scoring eight runs off of Leake and co. in an absolute clinic on how to be awesome at baseball.
The offense got going early, when Seth Smith lead off the bottom of the first with a blast over the right field fence on an 0-2 fastball that caught too much of the plate. Carlos “I wish there was a DH in the NL” Quentin added a homer of his own in the bottom of the seventh, with a nice little bat flip to accentuate.
Smith nearly made his night historic instead of simply phenomenal by narrowly missing the cycle. He finished a triple shy, which to be quite honest is a rare occurrence for anyone. Had he completed it, it would have been the first cycle in franchise history. But in Smith’s last chance to do so in the eighth, he drew a walk and didn’t get a good pitch to handle. Coming so close hurts, but it will happen someday. Law of probabilities, right?
The pitching was stellar once again, as Ian Kennedy allowed only one run in six innings of work, striking out five batters as well. He lowered his season ERA to 3.87 and even more impressively has shrunk his FIP to only 2.87, an elite mark. He’s quietly been one of the better pitchers in all of baseball, giving the Padres a true three-headed pitching monster that approximately 29 other teams envy. And he’s done all this without the benefit of pitching against his own inept offense.
The game, despite being a wonderful outcome in every way, is also mildly frustrating. The lineup showed what they can do against a strong starting pitcher (Leake still has a 3.66 FIP after the pounding he took), yet continue to get baffled by journeymen quad-A type throwers about twice a week. There is still so much potential in this lineup, and even more in the organization considering Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko are both still on the disabled list. The pitching has been there all season, with the three aces and strong bullpen arms (Huston Street and Joakin Benoit are both having career years). They have provided plenty of opportunities for wins to happen, but the lack of offensive prowess has pushed the team to the bottom of the standings and cost Josh Byrnes his job, which means we have to find someone else to keep the farm system full of Heisman winners.
Again, today was a fantastic win, as it had just about everything you wanted. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you realize they should be having games like this more often but it’s more important to focus on the positives. As the new GM search continues, we can hope he helps the club come closer to this level of performance on a more frequent basis.