The San Diego Padres have unexpectedly taken two out of three games against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. If you read my series preview for this series you will see that I had said that the Padres were totally capable of taking this series.
The Pads just looked great this series and there is a plethora of positives to take from the three games. From amazing pitching to solid offense there’s a whole lot of positives. Losing this last game against Clayton Kershaw should be the least of the Padres concerns as this wasn’t a game they should be winning in the first place.
The N.L. West has proven to look like the weakest in all of baseball so far. The first place team is the San Francisco Giants and they only have a record of 13-13. The last place team are still the Padres, but they are just three games out of first place which is crazy. The Padres are contenders at this early stage of the season.
The baseball the Padres have played has been better recently, but there are still flaws within this team. Overall the positives over-exceed the negatives in this series. If the Padres continue to play like they did in this series, the N.L. West should be one interesting division for the remainder of the season.
Game 1: The Rise Of “El Calmado”
There’s one obvious huge positive to take from game one of this series. That would be the pitching performance put in by Cesar Vargas once again. He looked so sharp on the mound that I had to write a whole article dedicated to his recent performances. I also had to dub him as “El Calmado” for the way he handles himself on the mound.
This young man has complete confidence and pitches on the mound as calm as a knuckle-baller in his 20th season in the big leagues. Cesar is neither a knuckle-baller nor a 20 year veteran, but there’s just this presence about him that makes him seem like he’s been in the show for years. This was barely Vargas’s second start in the majors and he really has dominated so far.
The 24-year-old went five and a third innings and didn’t allow a single run to cross the plate. After his performance Brad Hand came into the game and unfortunately allowed a home run off the bat of Yasmani Grandal to tie the game. This would also mean that Cesar Vargas would get the no decision. Luckily for the Padres the bullpen wouldn’t give up any more runs that night. Former Dodger Matt Kemp would be the one who would save the game for the Pads as he would launch a three run home run in the top of the eighth inning into the night sky.
After Kemp’s homer the score was 4-1 but the Padres would not be done yet. Travis Jankowski would come up to the plate in the 9th inning with Adam Rosales at third and would deliver a suicide squeeze to make the game 5-1. That would be all she wrote and the Padres would take the win with Ryan Buchter getting the W.
Wil Myers would unfortunately not get a hit and his hitting streak would end at 12 games. The big thing to take from this game other than Vargas and Kemp would be the solid outing by the bullpen. Between five pitchers the bullpen would only give up a run which is not bad at all. The standout performer from the pen would be Brandon Maurer as he would strike out three in his inning of work. Overall all of the components functioned in this game correctly for the Padres and that would be the key to their victory.
Game 2: We Won The Series!
This was a well-played game for the Padres yet again. All pieces to the puzzle were great in this one. Starting with Colin Rea who would put up a really nice performance going six innings and only allowing two runs. The two runs would come off a two run blast by Chase Utley.
Hopefully Rea can put out another quality start his next time out to ease some minds about his inconsistency. The offense would look solid again as they would put five on the board for the Friars. The standout performer at the plate would be Wil Myers. After going hitless in the first game of the series, Myers would get two hits with two walks and an RBI in-game two. Another nice performance would be that of Melvinn Upton Jr. who would get two RBIs on double.
The bullpen again would not disappoint as they would pitch three scoreless innings. Not only would the bullpen not allow a run but they also would not allow a single hit. Ryan Buchter, Brandon Mauer, and Fernando Rodney would all look very sharp. Rodney would get his fourth save of the season and leave the game with his ERA still at 0.00. All pieces of the puzzle would yet again work nicely in this game and the Padres would secure the series. After what we saw in the opening series, who would have thought?
Game 3: It Was All Kershaw
The Padres would fall in the last game of the series and it came to no surprise as Clayton Kershaw was the man on the mound for the Dodgers. Kershaw has been a menace to the Padres throughout his career. In 28 games Kershaw has a 2.16 ERA with 184 strikeouts against the Friars.
Now Kershaw didn’t win this game on his own…. oh wait he practically did. Kershaw would throw a complete game shutout in which he would only allow three hits and strikeout 14. To add to it Kershaw would drive home the only run in this ballgame with an RBI single. Kershaw wasn’t the only lefty that shined today though. Drew Pomeranz would pitch an amazing game himself going seven innings and only allowing a run. Pomeranz would also get five punch outs and only allow three hits as well.
The Bullpen would put in another solid outing as Brad Hand and Kevin Quackenbush would pitch a scoreless frame. This game wasn’t a bad one for the Padres. Clayton Kershaw was just simply too good out there today. Now while this is Kershaw and the Padres get a pass on this shutout, this was the seventh time the Padres have been shutout this season. Even though it’s very early, this is quite concerning. Hopefully The Pads don’t get shutout against a Rockies pitcher. If they do… then… we have a problem.
The Bullpen Looked Sharp This Series
The bullpen went seven and two-thirds innings in this series and only allowed a run to cross the plate. Now that’s great! The simple fact that the bullpen didn’t cost us a game this series is a plus. To put up those numbers against a tough Dodgers team is what we want to be seeing from this pen. The guys who were already performing this year kept it up in Ryan Buchter and Fernando Rodney. There were also some guys who turned it around like Brandon Maurer. The big right-handed pitcher had looked shaky recently. Brandon looked great as he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four. Brad Hand didn’t look too bad this series also despite costing Cesar Vargas his first MLB win. Hand looked sharp Sunday as he would pitch two-thirds of an inning a strike out two. Hand had shown moments of greatness before and hopefully he can keep it up. Overall this is the bullpen we want to be seeing from the San Diego Padres. Going back to Petco Park they should continue to perform like we saw them this series.
The Cuban Missile Is Taking Off
Alexei Ramirez has looked pretty good after a very slow start. While Wil Myers may have ended his hitting streak, Alexei has one going on himself. After Today’s game Ramirez has now hit in seven straight games. In the streak Alexei is 11-27 with three RBIs. After starting off the year horribly Alexei has picked it up and is now batting .272. The Cuban Missile seems to be on the way up and that’s great news for him and the Padres.
Should Bethancourt get more of a chance?
Derek Norris has looked abysmal with the bat to start off the 2016 campaign. The former all-star is batting just .150 this season. Now Christian Bethancourt himself is just at the Mendoza line, but does he deserve more of a chance? Norris started all of the games this series and only got himself two hits in eleven at bats. For a guy batting a buck 50 that’s a bit too much playtime. Yes I am aware that Norris is pretty decent with the glove and pitchers feel good with him. Still what’s the harm in giving Bethancourt a little more play time? I say Andy Green should go for it and start him two days in a row and just see how it goes.