Thursday, April 5, 2012

Padres lose opener, 5-3

Opening Day arrived for the Padres, and I tried to tune out the calliope playing Friars Follies.

Jeff Moorad, the team's CEO and presumptive owner as of a month ago, was at home and watching the game on TV. 

Or if he's a subscriber to Timer Warner or AT&T Uverse, which did not air the game, Moorad perhaps  watched a soap opera. Or the History Channel.

Moorad, you'll recall,  brokered a 20-year, $1 billion deal with Fox Sports San Diego. Heady stuff, except Major League Baseball never approved it.

John Moores, the team's majority owner, is said to be restructuring the agreement with FS San Diego, which is in its own wrestling match with local cable distributors. The Texas tycoon was at the ballpark today but waved away a Padres beat writer.

Magic Johnson sat next to the visiting dugout. 

When Magic worked another job in San Diego, many years ago,  the NBA Clippers were in our town trying to stop him. Making the new Dodgers' front man feel welcome, the Padres flopped around, Clipper-like, in falling behind 3-0. For the faithful, it was as painful as Bill Walton's feet.

At least Cameron Maybin gave them a World B. Free moment by going deep -- 445 feet deep.

The Follies embraced a Padres newcomer, Edinson Volquez, the starting pitcher who apparently needs someone to acquaint him with Google Maps. 

An escapee from Cincinnati's matchbox of a ballpark, Volquez didn't realize he was in Petco National Park.

How else to explain the four walks he issued in the fourth inning? Two of the freebies brought in Dodgers runs.  More Dull Time than Showtime, Magic's team was inching toward its 5-3 victory.

Like several of my followers on Twitter, Volquez deemed plate umpire Gary Darling as an accomplice to his crime, if not the culprit.

"When you throw your best pitch and the ump misses the call, it goes straight to your head," Volquez said.

Edinson, a friendly fellow, ought to leave the squeeze talk to Jamba Juice.

Any pitcher who hands consecutive walks to James Loney, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis is asking to lose the game.

Reminding him that he was at Petco, I told Volquez he would've been better off aiming his lively, speedy fastballs down the middle.

He should've been seeing white. Fifteen inches of white plate.

"Yes," the pitcher said, smiling. "You can make a lot of mistakes here with balls right down the middle."

Clayton Kershaw found the plate's corners and raised Darling's right arm, despite a stomach bug that must've been the worst of his life, for the Dodgers pitcher didn't return for the fourth inning although he was ahead 2-0 and facing the Padres in Petco.

Padres hitters were unaware of Kershaw's flu, but the radar gun alerted them of the lefty's seeming vulnerability.

"He was throwing 88 to 90 instead of 93 to 95," said Chase Headley.

Kershaw's final pitch reminded the Padres who the National League's reigning Cy Young winner is: the fastball skimmed the inside corner and Headley took it for a third strike, leaving the bases loaded.

"He had as good of control as I've seen from him to both sides of the plate," Headley said.

Even still, as Padres GM Josh Byrnes quipped afterward, had the Padres known that Kershaw would last only three innings and that Dodgers set-up star Kenley Jansen would allow two runs, on Maybin's bolt in the eighth, they'd have taken their chances. What they got instead was their 22nd defeat in 44 home openers. It didn't help that Maybin and shortstop Jason Bartlett made errors that created the Dodgers' third run.

"It's one game," said Maybin. "We've got some things we'll clean up. But I'm excited where we're at. Everybody's still real optimistic."

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  1. Always enjoy a good World B Free reference. Darling was terrible for both teams

  2. Well, here comes another year. I really love and Apple TV. Now i can watch any game and not have to be subjected to the Padres.
    Wish I could say "it ain't so," but it is.