Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday tidbits

With Friday's victory in San Francisco, the Padres improved to 8-1 against the Giants. A few thoughts:

* Clayton Richard competed extremely well. He stayed poised during early struggles. With Richard focused on home plate, the Giants' Aaron Rowand tried to steal third base, the kind of gamble that flusters some pitchers into a balk or a wild throw. Richard stepped off the rubber and threw out Rowand. Just a guess here, but I think Richard's recent struggles with throwing to bases encouraged the Giants to make him make a play. He made it. Later, when the Padres gave him a lead, Richard held it.

* The game seemed a little big for Giants picher Jonathan Sanchez. He misdirected a bunt, helping a wobbly Richard to escape early in the game. When the Giants gave him a 2-0 lead, Sanchez responded by plunking Yorvit Torrealba and grooving a fastball to Chase Headley, and the Padres took advantage to tie the score.

* Sanchez was unable to hold his stuff through the middle innings. Richard seemed to get stronger as the game unfolded.

* Pablo Sandoval is losing the Battle of the Bulge, and that continues to hurt the Giants. Sandoval had subpar footspeed as a rookie. Two years and many pounds later, he has lost a step. Or two. His inability to promptly run down Adrian Gonzalez was the play of the game, as the Padres gained two extra bases, leading to the go-ahead run. (Gonzalez did a great job of prolonging the rundown; anticipating Buster Posey's throw to Sandoval near third base, he got a good jump.) When Sandoval was a rookie, I heard a few things from the Giants and wrote that his weakness for late-night pizza could sidetrack his career. That has happened. It's a shame, because Sandoval has phenomenal hand-eye coordination and is passionate about baseball. But it's the umpteenth example I've seen this year of the Padres having an advantage because they are more committed to winning than some of their opponents. It's troubling to see a player that young and talented become a liability in some aspects because of his weight. And I say that as someone who also has a profound weakness for late-night pizza. I can recite the menus of every 24-hour taco shop in Pacific Beach.

* The PEN-itentiary was the final difference. No surprise there.

* For both teams, these are the kind of games that should help prepare the players for the playoffs. The Phillies and Cardinals are used to the pressure cooker. Will both the Padres and the Giants reach the playoffs? Should be interesting to follow.

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