Friday, October 1, 2010

Padres win opener

* Adrian Gonzalez's remedy seemingly was tonic for what ailed the Padres. Following Thursday's loss, the second 1-0 defeat to the Cubs in four games, Gonzalez said the Padres should swing hard and maybe they'd "run into something." Don't obsess with manufacturing runs, he added. Tonight the Padres ran into three Matt Cain pitches, and those three home runs led to the 6-4 victory.

* The grizzled baseball elders marvel at how athletic and powerful players are today, but they also marvel at how poor the baserunning is. Another example was the blunder by Freddy Sanchez that gifted the Padres with an enormous out in the ninth inning. In their dugout, the Padres were smiling, even chuckling at that one. And the Padres aren't especially smart on the basepaths themselves.

* Heath Bell is doing it again, shouldering a big load down the stretch. Feels a little like 2007. The Loveable Kook probably felt like hugging Sanchez in the ninth. Summoned with two outs in the eighth, Bell had a good curveball and threw four of them to get the first of his four outs. What he didn't have was fastball accuracy. With Sanchez on first after a leadoff walk in the ninth, the Giants' best hitter, Aubrey Huff, had figured out that Bell had to rely on his breaking ball. Huff then unloaded on an inside curveball. Looked like he hit it with a lot of top-spin, which allowed Will Venable to catch the ball in front of the wall. So it was a tricky read. Doesn't matter. Sanchez should never get doubled off base there. Heck, he was darn near third base. Did he realize the score was 6-4? Sanchez spent most of his career with the Pirates. Not to be snarky, that could help explain a blunder of that degree in a game with so much at stake.

* One of the broadcasters talked about how hard the Padres relievers have worked this season. Said their workloads were high. Well, sorry, I think it's pretty much the opposite when you compare their workloads to those of other frontline relievers. All things considered, it's remarkable that the Padres' better relievers don't have many more innings and outings on their ledgers. The broadcaster's comment was in no way a criticism of Bud Black and his pitching coaches. It's October, the seventh month of pitching for most of these guys. My point here is, Black and his pitching coaches have done an excellent job of manipulating the bullpen. The Padres don't have a workhorse in their rotation. No Roy Halladay to chew up 250 innings. They also play a lot of close games. Yet there's nothing alarming about any of their relievers' workloads. From what I was told, Mike Adams went on to the disabled list at mid-season largely because the Padres wanted him to have more fuel in the tank in September. Smart move. Bottom line, I think his deft bullpen management has allowed Black to go to the whip down the stretch, which he's had to do. It's part of why Black should be Manager of the Year. Sure, the relievers could use a breather now. That's a concern for the rest of the series. But their present fatigue owes to the calendar and the playoff race dynamics (and the offense fading over the last several weeks). Putting it another way, there are many managers who would've abused Adams, Gregerson and Bell. Across the board, a strong year in terms of bullpen depth, bullpen quality and bullpen management.

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