The general feeling around the San Diego Padres’ camp is that this team likes to have fun.
Andy Green has created a playful atmosphere for the players, but at the same time the players are well aware of what they need to do in order to change this franchise for the better.
Before Thursday’s game, the Padres were huddled in the locker room enjoying some ping-pong. Wil Myers was seen demolishing players on the table with his wicked overhand smash. I won’t name anybody who came out on the losing end, but Myers certainly has skills with the ping-pong paddle.
Surprisingly, one of his competitors on this day was Eric Lauer. Despite having to start the game in a few hours, the young lefty was enjoying himself with his teammates. No pressure about facing Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, and the rest of the Giants’ squad. Instead, Lauer chose to have fun and not let the pressure eat him alive. You have to like that. The game of baseball is just that – a game. There is no need to stress over things that you cannot control.
It was a chilly Arizona night as Lauer toed the rubber against San Francisco. This would be a big start for the hurler from Kent State as he would get an opportunity to face legit major league talent. With the exception of Trevor Brown behind the dish, the Giants had their starters in the lineup.
Lauer wasted no time, as he quickly worked ahead of the first two batters. Austin Jackson struck out looking on a 2-2 pitch and Hunter Pence grounded out weakly to second on a 1-2 pitch. He then got newly acquired Andrew McCutchen to fly out to right to end the inning. A quick inning from Lauer as he always enjoys working fast and throwing strikes.
In the second, Lauer gave up a double to Brandon Crawford on a full count pitch. No harm was done as there were two outs in the inning before the double took place. At this point, Lauer looked in control as he continued to hit his spots. He struck out Trevor Brown after a seven-pitch at bat on a called third strike on the inside corner. All three strikeouts for Lauer to this point had come on called third strikes from the home plate umpire. After the game, Andy Green was bullish on complementing the young hurler too much. “He’s been good. There is something about his fastball that plays at this level.”
The Padres got the first run of the game on a home run to right center field by Chase Headley. Giants’ starter Jeff Samardzija had been pretty dominant to that point, but Headley jumped a fastball for his first homer of the spring. After two outs, Cory Spangenberg lit into a ball that cleared the right field fence with ease. It was Spangenberg’s third homer during Cactus League play. At this point, it was 2-0 Padres in front of the home crowd in Peoria.
The Padres were not done, as Wil Myers followed Spangy with a single. He then promptly stole second and advanced on a wild pitch to third. On a full count pitch, the next batter, Eric Hosmer drilled a deep dinger to right field. The Giants’ pitcher proceeded to walk Jose Pirela, Franchy Cordero, and Manuel Margot before retiring Headley on a slicing ball down the left field line. Three bombs to right off of Samardzija and the score was 4-0 through three innings in favor of the Padres.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 16, 2018
As a pitcher, you have to respond when your team gives you a lead. The fourth inning would be huge for Lauer as he would face the middle of the Giants’ lineup protecting a lead. Hunter Pence led off the inning with a long fly ball to right field that Franchy Cordero could not gather against the outfield wall. The ball scooted away from Cordero and Pence ended up with a triple to start the inning. Not a great start for the left-handed pitcher.
Lauer battled back, though, by striking out Andrew McCutchen swinging. However, a base hit by Evan Longoria got the Giants on the board. It was 4-1 at this point, as Lauer got Crawford and Panik on ground balls to end the inning. The 22-year-old was done for the night after going four innings and allowing one run, while striking out four. He was extremely impressive and continues to pitch as though he is a grizzled veteran.
As the game went into the top of the fifth inning, the Giants rallied off of veteran Craig Stammen. He clearly did not have his best stuff, as the veteran gave up three runs in one-third of an inning. Andy Green indicated after the game that Stammen was cross-firing with his delivery. This mechanical issue should be able to be resolved. Stammen was relieved by Eric Yardley with the score 5-4 Padres and runners on first and third. The sidearmed Yardley came in and hit Brandon Belt on a 0-1 pitch to load the bases. He then walked Joe Panik on four pitches to tie the game at five. A sacrifice fly put the Giants up 6-5 as they headed to the bottom of the fifth.
Freddy Galvis was impressive with the glove tonight, showcasing fantastic range at short. In the bottom of the fifth, Galvis tomahawked a single to center with two outs. The score was now tied at six.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) March 16, 2018
A Brandon Belt deep home run in the top of the seventh put the Giants up one at this point. The Padres tried to rally in the seventh as Franchy Cordero walked with one out. Manuel Margot followed with a walk as well off Jose Valdez. That brought up Christian Villanueva, who lined a ball off the Giants’ shortstop to score Cordero from second. Freddy Galvis stepped up with the infield in and drove a ball up the middle to score both Margot and Villanueva. This made it 9-7 Padres through seven complete, and that is all San Diego needed.
The Padres were able to pull off the 9-7 victory, as the team pulled to 10-8-3 on the Cactus League season. Tomorrow the club will face the Kansas City Royals at 1:10 PM. Chris Young and Luis Perdomo are scheduled to take the mound for the Friars.