Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday

For me it was mostly a football weekend that included covering the Chargers' happy home opener, but I did collect a few Padres tidbits.

* The Padres didn't have to face Ubaldo Jimenez in Denver and missed two of the Cardinals' three frontline starters over the four-game set in St. Louis. They will not face the best Dodgers starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, this week. Unfortunately for the Padres, they drew Adam Wainwright on Sunday. After the All-Star Game two months ago, Torii Hunter of the Angels told me he dreaded facing Wainwright. Looking like someone who belongs in the playoffs, Wainwright held the Padres to one run in eight innings.

* Mat Latos' breaking pitches have deserted him in the last two outings. The Tattoed One didn't seem real confident in his fastball, either, against the Cardinals on Friday.

* Four of the five home runs hit by Ryan Ludwick as a Padre have come against the NL Central. Part of that may be comfort, as the NL Central used to be home to the former Cardinal. Part of it may be the NL Central is larded with mediocre pitching.

* Cardinals reclamation project Jeff Suppan, released earlier this season by the pitching-poor Brewers, had below average stuff across the board and misplaced several pitches on Saturday, yet the Padres scored only one run off him in six innings and that was only because Suppan served an 0-2 cookie to David Eckstein. At some point, the Padres have to hit better than they have over the last few weeks, don't they?

* Matt Stairs has been tremendous for several weeks now. His swing doesn't look as long as it was in the first half. Did Petco induce him to make subtle changes? Is he benefiting from knee health? You can see, pitchers are wary of pitching him both outside and inside.

* That was some determined work from Chris Young, who, in his comeback from a shoulder ailment, had below-average velocity but allowed only one run in four innings on Saturday. Young looks like he's still in spring training mode in terms of pitch quality. Back before the shoulder problems, it used to take him several major league games to build up his fastball and stamina. So, if he's going to be of help, it'll likely have to be through deception and determination. Young owns the franchise's only playoff win since 1998, but his margins for error are so much slimmer now.

* Third baseman Chase Headley made a mental mistake that former big leaguer Eric Karros, now a talking head, harped on during Saturday's telecast. After fielding a groundball struck by the hobbled and slow Yadier Molina, Headley decided against throwing to second base to start a likely doubleplay. Instead he made a failed tag attempt of a baserunner. Karros was puzzled by the decision. My guesses for it: 1) Headley is fatigued; 2) Because he's made no fewer than three inaccurate throws to second base this year, it may not be a second-nature, routine throw for him.

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