What started out looking like a pitcher’s duel got out of hand in an ugly way. Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy and the Dodgers bullpen kept Padres bats quiet, while the Padres’ pitching was downright unwatchable at times. Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe tried to jump-start the Padres offense, but the boys in blue won this game handily.
Manager Andy Green stuck to the typical starter crew for the position players, with the only substitution being Hector Sanchez behind the plate. Typically teams will rest some starters for a day game the day after a night game, but Green chose to stack the lineup with lefties (or switch hitters) against Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy’s opponent was Jered Weaver, making his first official start as a Padre.
Watching Jered Weaver pitch can put you on the edge of your seat. You know there isn’t any heat to speak of, and his breaking pitches don’t look nasty to the untrained eye. The ball just floats up there, and he induces some weak grounders and a nauseating number of pop flies. He’s just wild enough to get himself into some interesting jams, and thankfully the Padres’ defense and positioning are good enough to withstand them. When he keeps the ball away from the middle of the strike zone he can be effective and even efficient, but when a ball floats up and over the plate, look out!
Weaver got off to a nice start in today’s game, locating his “fast”ball and breaking stuff effectively in the first inning, but his command seemed to waver as he got in to the game. The Dodgers dinged him a little as he allowed a single to Chase Utley and then placed a ball on a tee for Yasiel Puig to deliver to the cheap seats for a two-run homer. That put the Dodgers up 2-0 through two innings. In something reminiscent of the movie “Groundhog Day,” Puig reproduced the feat in the fourth, this time plating Joc Pederson by scorching a line drive no doubt home run. I think it’s safe to say that Puig has Weaver’s number. By the end of the fifth inning, Weaver’s pitch count had crept into the 80’s and the Padres were looking at a 4-0 deficit. By that point, Andy Green had seen enough and he sent Allen Cordoba up to pinch hit for Weaver. It’s a good thing, too, since Puig was due up to start off the sixth. Weaver’s final line: 5 IP, 4 ER, 2 HR’s, 3 K’s, 5 hits, 3 walks. Certainly not pretty, but it’s a start.
Dodgers’ starter Brandon McCarthy was on his game today. He worked the Padres for a bunch of quick outs, and when they hit the ball hard, it was right at the well-positioned defenders. Wil Myers drilled a ball right up the middle... into the shift to end the first inning. Yangervis Solarte sliced double that tricked Joc Pederson, but both Ryan Schimpf and Hunter Renfroe popped out with broken bats, then Hector Sanchez drilled a ball down the line... right at Adrian Gonzalez, who was positioned perfectly to end the second inning. Through four innings, Solarte’s double was the only Padres’ hit of the game.
All praise Wil Myers, because he finally gave us some hope. After Travis Jankowski got on with a nice single through the 5.5 hole, Myers took a McCarthy breaking ball opposite field for a two-run dinger, putting the Padres on the board at 4-2. Solarte followed Myers with a walk, but Ryan Schimpf struck out to end the rally. Still, McCarthy’s cruise through the game was interrupted and the Padres were showing some signs of life.
Jarred Cosart entered in the bottom of the sixth to make the first relief appearance of his career. He cautiously worked Puig down and away, eventually walking him. Austin Barnes grounded sharply to Wil Myers, who fired a seed to Erick Aybar at short, but the double play was dashed as Aybar had to double-clutch and then held on to the ball. Kike Hernandez brought Barnes home with a double off a curveball, and then Cosart put Corey Seager on with a base on balls as it looked like Cosart was struggling with control. Then the Padres fell pray to the old double-steal, as Seager drew a throw down from Sanchez, then Hernandez broke for home. Aybar’s throw was high, making Sanchez leap to catch the throw and giving Hernandez just enough time to slide under the tag. By the time Craig Stammen was summoned to end the mess, the Padres trailed 6-2.
Christian Bethancourt came to the plate in the top of the seventh in his first pinch-hitting appearance of the season, then we got a taste of the fun sub opportunities as he took the mound. Unfortunately, this didn’t go so well. He got a quick out and then walked Yasiel Puig on four pitches, but the game took a dark turn when Austin Barnes fouled off a pitch that struck catcher Hector Sanchez squarely in the face mask. Sanchez stayed in for the next couple of pitches, but Bethancourt called him out to the mound and then motioned to the dugout that something didn’t seem right. Sanchez came out of the game and was replaced by Luis Torrens. With a history of concussion issues, there’s reason to be concerned about Sanchez’ health. It’s probably a good thing that Bethancourt recognized an issue when he did.
Yasiel Puig stole second the first chance that he saw, and Torrens’ throw caught Puig squarely on the helmet, which would have been funny had we not just seen a player potentially concussed just moments before. Thank goodness for protective headgear. Christian Bethancourt never could get on track today. He walked Austin Barnes. He walked Scott Van Slyke. He walked Andrew Toles. If you’re scoring at home, that’s four consecutive walks and that usually brings a run home. Brad Hand was brought in to end the misery, and he gave up a ground rule double to Corey Seager and then Torrens let a pitch get past him before Hand could find the kill switch on this ride. Once the dust settled, the Dodgers had stacked up a 10-2 lead. If there was a cathartic moment in it all, it was kinda fun watching Joc Peterson blow a gasket after striking out, immediately earning an ejection.
After all that excitement, the rest of the game was basically a formality. Brandon Maurer pitched a clean inning. Hunter Renfroe hit a double in the ninth that was all for naught. The Padres got drubbed in this one, 10-2, and the series also goes to the Dodgers, 3-1. Hunter Renfroe is your Player of the Game with his 3-for-4 performance with a double and a stolen base. The goats of the game are Jarred Cosart and Christian Bethancourt, which makes me wonder: what do you call a goat with only one horn? I’m not sure I want to know the answer.
The Padres now head home to face the Giants in the home opener. Game time is 3:40 and will feature Luis Perdomo. Get to the park early and cheer loud! It’s going to be a long season, and our guys need your support.