Mondays in baseball can be a time of renewal. Sometimes they are an off day, but when they are not they start a new series and sometimes. like this time, they start one in a new city. In any case, they offer a chance to turn the page. And after a dismal series in San Francisco over the weekend, renewal was something everyone on or around the Padres needed. They would do that behind their Opening Day starter James Shields. Turning the rotation over to start a series is just another way to start fresh. An additional way is adding new blood, and the Padres also did that today calling up 28 year old rookie Cody Decker for the first time as well as 3 others.
The Padres certainly looked like a team who had turned the page in the first inning in Arizona. Wil Myers set the tone by leading off the game with a home run to right center field. If one were to think the DBacks and their starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson were rattled by that initial blast, they wouldn't be far off. Hellickson walked the next two and an error allowed Justin Upton to reach and load the bases. A Jedd Gyorko sacrifice fly plated the second run of the game and a subsequent Cory Spangenberg single brought home another. Spangenberg aggressively tried to steal second base before the pitcher threw home and made it there safely when the throw to catch him was errant. Upton took advantage of that error and tallied a fourth run for the Friars. Derek Norris would put the finishing touches on the rally with an RBI single to bring Spangenberg home and make it 5-0.
A little bit of the weekend past seemed like it might creep in when a couple of doubles allowed by Shields early in the bottom of the first led to a run. The Snakes also pulled Hellickson in favor of the bullpen after only 1 inning and the bats went quiet for a while. However, that changed in the 5th inning when the refreshed Padres were able to put together another bases loaded, no out situation. Cory Spangenberg once again came through with a hit with runners in scoring position. This time it was a double to up the score to 7-1. Norris was then intentionally walked and Arizona was able to strike out Travis Jankowski and Shields. But, Wil Myers and the Padres weren't done driving in the runs. Myers went back to right center field with a gap splitter that saw him leg out a triple and plate 3 more runs. That put the Padres into double digits with a 10-1 lead. Or as we at Gaslamp Ball like to say: Like a billion to 1.
A big lead (or deficit) like that this late in the season along with expanded rosters allows both teams to make a bunch of lineup changes and keep their starters fresh. The DBacks went first and made some pretty wholesale changes. The Padres were a little more cautious and probably shouldn't have been. Derek Norris took another foul ball off part of his body and this time was removed for backup Austin Hedges. James Shields had a scary moment as well when a comebacker left a big bruise on his right forearm, but not till (just) after recording the 7th 200 strikeout season in Padres history. Others substitutions trickled in slowly, but the one that was most anticipated was Cody Decker who had to wait until the very end. The Padres 2009 22nd round pick got to pinch hit in the top of the 9th inning. The Padres and Decker fans in the sparse crowd could be heard chanting "Co-dy Decker" (after earlier in the game chanting "We want Decker!"). Ultimately Decker popped out, but it was still a feel good moment for a team that spent the day trying to wash away recent ugly moments.
The Diamondbacks would unfortunately tack on two runs in the bottom of the 9th to make it a billion to 3 instead of a billion to 1. 27 year-old relief pitcher Jay Jackson also got to make his debut in the 9th inning and recorded a couple of outs including his first major league strikeout (as well as couple bumps) along the way. Strangely, manager Pat Murphy kept the substitution train rolling with 1 out remaining in the game and brought in Marcos Mateo to finish it. 10-3 final score.