In the deep sea of terrible, terrible, very terrible hitting from the Padres' 2014 season, a few enjoyable shiny seashells washed ashore the beaches of San Diego. Our lineup was an absolute disaster, and with a year plagued with some of the worst hitting in the franchises history it's pretty easy to pick out a very select few moments where our hitting was great, or at the very least memorable.
For this category, it might be difficult to find what would be considered the "most important". A few of the stand-out hits fall under that "important to me" category for different reasons. Some of them embodied the excitement of a prospect having their major league debut, and others were a wash of relief as we avoided getting no-hit.
I had the opportunity to write a large amount of recaps for the games this season, so my suggestions are hits that I have vivid memories of, and why they're important to me - and the Padres 2014 season as a whole:
Rymer Liriano's annhilates a poor little baseball for his first major league home run
What can be simply described as a "hope for the future" hit, watching Rymer Liranio turn on an inside fastball in his third game of his MLB career and decimate a 427-foot home run gave fans a great feeling. For the entire series, the Rockies had been pitching Liriano deep inside, taking advantage of his swing and keeping him quiet. Finally, he adjusted, and as a result became the eighth Friar to touch the third-story of the Western Metal Supply Co. building with his two-run bomb.
Cory Spangenberg's first major league home run is a pinch-hit walk off fresh off the bench
As a kid, or even as somebody in the minor leagues, the fantasy of a major league home run can tend to be theatrical. "Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs, full count" is usually the baseball fantasy scenario that gets concocted in our heads. Very few get to experience that real-life opportunty. For Spangy everything aligned. Called up on August 30th, and announced via Twitter from Cory, by November 2nd he was thrust into that ultimate moment: bottom of the ninth, tie game, pinch hitting for a big league team.
And he did it.
Chase Headley breaks Clayton Kershaw's 41 scoreless-inning streak
Very few things in life are more satisfying than upsetting a team as icky and despised as the Dodgers. Consistently leading polls in "hateability", and even more consistently on top of the Padres in standings; it's really easy to get excited at any possibly way to jeer and jab at the Yankees of the West. This year, we got to experience Tyson Ross break up a Kershaw no-hit bid, we got to see them fall all over themselves (even though they still beat us), and eventually fall in the playoffs, again. More importantly, though, we got the opportunity to spoil some fun.
It was this stab at Los Angeles that was the most smugly satisfying of all. With the Padres sitting on one of the worst offenses in the history of the sport; opposing ESPN content provider Clayton Kershaw held an absurdly good streak of 41 scoreless innings. That was, until Chase Headley ruined everything. It was so important and gratifying that jodes reached the New York Times off of it.
Andrew Cashner and his mullet leg out their first bearded career triple
Padres pitchers do it all. The front-line force of the Friars this year was undoubtedly the Friars pitching, spearheaded by the duo of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. But this is about hitting right now, not pitching, and it doesn't really get any better than watching Ca$h swing the bat. He crushes baseballs, and this time it was just hard enough to earn him his first ever triple, and first by a pitcher in the 2014 season.
The only-triple-by-a-pitcher title was eventually usurped, but the intensity and Brown and Gold stylishness of Cashner's will never be trumped or forgotten. Still the beardiest triple of 2014.
Yasmani Grandal's proves he's currently the most powerful Friar with a bat on his go-ahead grand slam
With 100+ more plate appearances than his catcher counterpart Rene Rivera, Yasmani lead the Padres in home runs for 2014. His ISO was sitting at .175, and for the second half of the season was almost .200, and was also top 10 in the MLB for feet per fly ball at 304.13. When he connects Grandal hits the ball hard. And this hard hit had all the right pieces. Down late in the game, the ever-so-annoying San Francisco Giants in the even-more-annoying (but gorgeous) AT&T Park with bases loaded; and Yaz smoked this one. It soared over the groaning pumpkins into the black waters of the bay, and nestled firmly into my 2014 Padres season memory.
Splash hits: 69.
Alexi Amarista's birthday present to himself
We all remember the first half of the season and the dumpster fire that it was. The Padres were already on a four-game losing streak, and the Little Ninja Alexi Amarista was still hitless. But that day was Alexi's 25th birthday. Sources say he didn't even hesitate to wish (in Spanish) for his first hit of the season when blowing out his candles; and his wish was granted in the form of a three-run go-ahead HR. It didn't do much other than give us the second win of the season (followed by two more losses), but it was charming and timely enough to boost a little fan confidence that would inevitably be betrayed for the remainder of the year in the most sadistic ways possible.