The return of baseball season is always exciting, but today was full of mixed emotions as the Padres honored Jerry Coleman in the pre-game ceremonies. Petco Park fell silent as the Colonel's contributions to his country, his sport, and his family were remembered. There were plenty of teary eyes in the stands (mine included), on a day usually reserved for such joy. Cheering up a crowd of over 45,000 after a memorial to an icon like Coleman is no easy task. Thankfully, the Padres were up to the challenge.
Andrew Cashner came out of the gates strong, striking out the first two Dodgers he faced on 9 pitches. He got Hanley Ramirez to fly out to wrap up the first inning. The offense started strong, too, as Everth Cabrera worked the count for a leadoff walk before going to third on Chris Denorfia's single. With one out, Jedd Gyorko drew another walk to load the bases, but Yonder Alonso grounded into a double play to kill the rally.
That was pretty much the way the game went until the fifth inning, when the Dodgers finally managed to scratch a run out of Cashner and his magnificent mullet. A.J. Ellis hit a single, then Cashner walked Dee Gordon, bringing up pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu laid down a bunt, but some great fielding from Cashner caught Ellis at third, and it looked like he was about to escape the inning unscathed. That's when Carl Crawford hit a single to score Gordon. As good as the pitching had been on both sides, it seemed like that was going to be enough to win the game. And then Don Mattingly put in Brian Wilson to start the eighth inning.
Seth Smith wasted no time in taking advantage of Mattingly's mistake. After watching a pair of fastballs miss the strike zone, he launched an 87 mph slider deep into right field, and it was a whole new ballgame. Yasmani Grandal pinch hit for Dale Thayer and drew a walk, then went to second on a sacrifice bunt from Cabrera. Except it wasn't much of a sacrifice; Cabrera reached first when Wilson bobbled to ball. As long as the Dodgers defense was screwing up, Grandal figured he might as well steal third, and then Cabrera moved to second on defensive indifference. Then Denorfia picked up his second single of the night and his first 2 RBI of the season.
Huston Street entered in the ninth to some new music, trading Ted Nugent's "Stranglehold" for Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir". No word on why he changed it up, but it worked. He retired the Dodgers in order. While the day might have started in tears, it ended in joyous celebration.
It seems cruel after such a win, but tomorrow is an off day. Ian Kennedy will take on Zack Greinke at 3:40 PM.
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Wow, you guys went all out in the game thread. As far as I'm concerned, you're all winners today.