Thursday, May 20, 2010

Seamhead stuff

* Will Venable has shortened his swing and looks like he's emerged from his slump. Unfortunately for the Padres, Venable's single accounted for their only run Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. The good news is, Venable is no longer an easy out. It'll be interesting to see if he can keep it going against Cliff Lee.

* Padres continue to attack on the basepaths. Everth Cabrera, punishing right-fielder Xavier Paul for casual defense, hustled up a double that led to the run.

* Cabrera put some tough pitches into play. He's seeing the ball better than he did before going on the disabled list. The No. 8 spot is good for him.

* Yorvit Torrealba didn't play like a veteran catcher should. Didn't like his call for a slider with Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw batting and a man on third base in the sixth. Yes, Kershaw had drilled a fastball for a lineout. But why risk a wild pitch? When Kevin Correia threw the slider in the dirt, it got by Torrealba for a run. Wasn't an easy pitch to block, but Torrealba was late. As a hitter, Torrealba wasn't seeing the ball well all game. That happens. But when he took a third strike in the fifth that looked like a good call, he complained about it for awhile. That happens, too. But I doubt it does Torrealba or the Padres any good, especially when the call was OK.

* When he needed a strikeout, Adam Russell overpowered Matt Kemp. Impressive.

* For most of the game, umpire Chris Guccione's strike zone was wide, especially on outside pitches. Frankly, some calls on outside breaking balls were amateurish. Wide strikes put Dodgers hitter James Loney in an 1-2 bind in the sixth. (In his previous at-bat, Loney suffered a brutal strikeout on a backdoor slider that never appeared to get near the outside corner.) So, why not stay outside? Torrealba and Correia probably out-thought themselves. They went inside with a fastball. To his credit, Loney laced it for a single as part of L.A.'s three-run surge. I was surprised that Loney drilled that pitch. Bet the Padres were, too.

* Correia was a tad unlucky. He had four pitches working -- fastball, slider, cutter and changeup.

* Wrote about Kershaw's improvement, and it was evident again on Thursday night. Kershaw's slide step is making him a better pitcher. He's less prone to wild spells as a result. He's better at holding runners -- a key skill against the Padres. And like Joe Torre said, Kershaw has just as much stuff as he did with the high leg kick. I also liked how Kershaw responded to bad luck after the Padres got two extra outs. One came when ancient Garret Anderson let a flyball land for a single. The other came when the first-base ump missed a call. Each time, Kershaw responded with good pitches. That's three strong outings in a row for the 22-year-old.

* Was David Eckstein overly aggressive when he hacked at a fastball from Kershaw, rather than bunting runners to second and third with Adrian Gonzalez on deck and none out? Tough one. Eckstein correctly anticipated a fat fastball on 1-0 and hit it hard, but it went to Anderson in left field. It was the biggest out of the game. The score was 1-1. I favored a bunt but saw it as 60-40. Let's say Eckstein would've bunted the runners over. I guess the Dodgers would've walked Gonzalez to bring up Torrealba. (Normally the hitter there would've been Chase Headley. He had the start off.) As it turned out, Gonzalez struck out on three pitches. Then Torrealba took the called third strike that led him to complain. Again, Torrealba had looked overmatched against Kershaw. In his first at-bat, he was late on several fastballs.

* Good call by Dick Enberg, likening Jamey Carroll to Eckstein. When Carroll hit a sacrifice fly to right field in the second, I thought back to 2007. Game No. 163. Coors Field. Trevor Hoffman. Carroll's flyball to Brian Giles. Matt Holliday. Michael Barrett. Tim McClelland. And one of the most somber clubhouses I've worked.

* Not to pick on Chris Denorfia, who has helped the Padres, but his overthrow of cutoff man Gonzalez that set up a run is the kind of mistake the $38 million Padres can't afford to make. (Denorfia was in deep center field and had no chance of nailing the speedy Kemp; reading the high throw, the slowish Loney took second.) Sad to say, that kind of mistake happens so often, you almost expect it from big leaguers. Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand, for one, is prone to airmailing cutoff men, and he's in the middle of a $60-million contract.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post, Tom. Your writing is appreciated.