Well, GLB'rs, it's 2015. The first three series have been completed and the new and improved San Diego Padres are taking a Thursday off before starting a 3-game series in Chicago. It has been an even 10 games since Opening Day, and the Friars have taken a majority of those games (six to be specific.) For a breakdown on what winning those six games means in the grand scheme of the franchise; I suggest you take a look at jbox' recent post.
Before we get into the thick of things, it's important to check out any important GLB pieces you may have missed. (Just kidding, they're all important.)
Now into the regular season meat and potatoes. The Padres started the season on the road, and brought things back home for a 7-game home stint.
SERIES LOSS @ Los Angeles
The season opener in Los Angeles was a tough-loss sandwich. An impressive first game duel between James Shields and Clayton Kershaw was turned over to a Padres bullpen with some holes in the sails. The loss was followed with another elite performance from Tyson Ross and a spicy new Friar offense. The series was capped off with a night to forget, as Adrian Gonzalez had a career night against a not-up-to-par Andrew Cashner.
SERIES WIN vs. San Francisco
The San Diego home opener was probably the last thing fans (new and old) wanted to see: a 12-inning low-scoring loss. The Padres couldn't get things (other than hitting into double plays) going, and conceded their first game in Petco Park of 2015 despite a collective effort to relieve an injured Ian Kennedy. Derek Norris and Angel Pagan had a little tiff, as well. But not to be ursurped by a washed-up Giants team, the Friars bounced back and battled the infamous Tim Lincecum for a low-scoring win. The next two games would feature wins as result of the offense parade that the league has been expecting from the Padres.
SERIES WIN vs. Arizona
The after party in Petco Park had the Diamondbacks coming to play. The first game of the series featured another shaky start from Cashner, with another flimsy performance from the once-impenetrable Padres bullpen. The Friars came back swinging the next two games, with two knockout performances from both the pitching staff, as well as Justin Upton's monster bat.
Matt Kemp's hips don't lie
Between running down a slicing single against the Giants, or picking a foul-ball out of the corner against the D-Backs, Kemp is making his case as a solid defensive outfielder. Don't expect Wenable dives; but Kemp isn't a pushover.
AJ Preller's first blockbuster acquisition of the offseason was met with shock and immediately followed with skepticism, criticism, and then unsettled doubt. One of those doubts was the long-term physical endurance of Matt Kemp, and his self-proclaimed "old man hips." You see, the guy has a little bit of arthritis. Some people blame his ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, some just chalk it up to age. Either way, Kemp had a bit of a point to prove to the unfaithful; and boy has he proven it.
Taking advantage of a blooper against the Giants and a hard hit against the D-Backs Kemp also collected a triple in both series.
Three doubles, two triples, some star catches in right field, 7 RBIs, 6 runs scored, batting for .341 after 10 games, and a stolen base. Like Kemp says, maybe it's good that "everybody has a little arthritis." Matt was a nightmare against his former team on his opening week return to Dodger Stadium, and at this pace will continue being a nightmare in that 3-spot.
So just admit it: You love Matt Kemp. Say it.
Upton funks you up
Candidate number two in the "weak defensive outfield", Upton pulls two very hard hit banana-curving balls out of the grass. After sitting behind Upton for a game; he plays very conservative - but every risk he has taken has paid off.
Justin's production is about a sure-thing as a sure-thing gets. The dude hit around 30 bombs last season; and after the first week and a half he's already got three. Thus far Upton has been more than a bat. He has hung two stars out in left field, and keeps things locked down in left field.
It's fun saying "Upton funk you up" mostly because he has now gone all 10 games with a hit. Totaling at 3 home runs, he hit two in back-to-back nights. One for the go ahead. That is, by definition, funking you up.
It has been quite a while since Padres fans could be watching a 2-out tie-game scenario and still have extreme confidence in their cleanup guy with an 0-2 count.
Release the Kimbrel
Kimbrel made his Padres debut against the second game at the Dodgers; striking out the side and making every last one of them look like fools.
We've already drooled over two star acquisitions and we still have more to talk about? That's because AJPrellz doesn't give a damn about when the regular season is scheduled to start. Picking up Kimbrel (the best closer in baseball, if you haven't heard) less than 24-hours before the Opening Day ceremonies was mind-blowing. It's also advised you don't mess with his catcher.
In a top-of-the-ninth no-out scenario, Kimbrel gives Angel Pagan some very sweet chin music after slighting Derek Norris. The situation can be found in a gif below, and Pagan went on to triple. He soon after become one of the final 3 outs in both of the Giants' following losses.
What's still mind-blowing is being in Petco Park with a save situation and hearing "Now pitching for the Padres... Craig Kimbrel." And that's after the theatrical "Welcome to the Jungle" fire show. Kimbrel has made the closer legacy in San Diego proud by being lights out in every save opportunity he has faced.
Don't mess with the Norse
It seems Norse has had a strike-em-out-throw-em-out in every game thus far. For some reason, despite Norris throwing out half of those who try to steal on him so far, the scouting report hasn't released that the Norse can and will gun you down on the base paths.
A rising fan favorite, Derek Norris has been slotting into the spot once occupied by the now-Dodger Yasmani Grandal. And he has been doing it very well. What's more satisfying than his 10 hits, 3 doubles, and 4 RBI's is that he plays the role of catcher with intensity.
Angel Pagan throws some chewed up gum left in the batters box directly at Norris. Pagan would go on to argue the gum stuck to his glove and changed trajectory. It's hard to believe he couldn't have just tossed it behind himself.
He has shown that he can leg-out extra bases, gun down the stupidly unsuspecting folks trying to steal, and even issue some chin music for a dumbfounded Angel Pagan when faced with the ol' "I didn't mean to throw gum at you it stuck to my glove I swear" move. Derek let everybody know what he felt about Pagan.
The pleasant and the not so pleasant
- Justin Upton is very obviously leading the pack with a .703 slugging percentage, 3 HRS, 7 RBIs, and an average of .351. But when you've got bats like that in the meat of the lineup, that leaves players like Yonder Alonso open to see some quality pitches. Alonso was expected to step up big after his wish-washy 2014 season, and so far with a home run, 4 RBIs, a .355 AVG and .459 OBP.
- Yangervis Solarte likes to hit, and he likes to get on base. Pulling a the second-highest OBP in his 24 plate appearances, he was making a pretty big case in his starting spot over Jedd Gyorko; who in 26 at bats has only 3 hits, 6 strikeouts, and has grounded into 3 double plays. Jedd was benched, and came back at the end of the DBacks series to go 0-3 with a strikeout.
- Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes have a pretty decent thing going. While the shortstop role is definitely in need of a major upgrade, both players have filled in to an at least average capacity. Ninja has continued to show off his dazzling defense by leading the league in his zone rating. Basically, if a ball is hit near him: it's going to be an out.
- Despite his two shaky starts, Andrew Cashner (4.09 ERA) and James Shields (2.08 ERA) are both tied at 15 K's, while Tyson Ross (3.75 ERA) and Brandon Morrow (1.29 ERA) have 12. Each have started 2 games. Ross is the only starter who hasn't given up a home run, while Morrow has given up the fewest earned runs (2).
- Odrisamer Despaigne filled in for Ian Kennedy, who is out after straining his left hamstring after only three innings pitched. Despaigne filled in flawlessly, and pitched a perfect game for roughly 4 innings before handing it over to the bullpen. Odrisamer took IPK's start against the D-Backs on Tuesday and threw for 7 innings, giving up only 2 hits and 1 earned run.
Other things you may have missed:
Odrisamer Despaigne's birdy made a return on Twitter
He's back! pic.twitter.com/jeyflveAVL— San Diego Padres (@Padres) April 12, 2015
Trevor Hoffman pumped everybody the Hell up on Opening Day
Austin Hedges hit his first home run of the season against Reno
Dick Enberg, for better or for worse, has joined Twitter
This is my Tweet debut. Shocker! Got smelling salts?!?! W Series matchup at Petco. Shields-Bumgarner. Exciting year. Cooperstown in July.— Dick Enberg (@Deohmy) April 11, 2015
Finally, some other things worth noting:
I'll now leave you all with a poll for the half-month: