Framing the Friars: A Tepid End to Successful Road Trip

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Credit: AP Photo

Sunday afternoon it was a tale of two stories for the Padres in the series finale versus the Phillies, which ultimately ended in a 7-1 loss for the Friars.

From the pitching side of things, Padre hurlers Trevor Cahill, Craig Stammen, Phil Maton, and Jose Torres gave up a combined nine hits through eight innings, with no base on balls, for a nice 1.125 collective WHIP, which normally would spell a measure of success.

Unfortunately for the good guys, six of those hits were deposited over the wall, once with a runner on base, producing all seven runs for the Phillies. Every time a Padre pitcher made a mistake, and even a few times when the pitches couldn’t honestly be criticized, Philly hitters jumped all over them and went big fly.

Cahill, the starting pitcher, was a classic example of this. He had his good stuff working, for the most part locating his fastball and dropping his big curveball out of the zone, striking out a more than respectable eight Philly batters through five. Nick Williams went oppo taco with a good outer third fastball to open the scoring in the second, however, and two batters later Cahill threw his worst pitch of the game, a hanging slider to Cameron Rupp, who mashed it well over 400 feet to dead center. Despite five strikeouts in the first two innings, Cahill found himself behind 2-0.

Similar patterns happened throughout. Stammen came on in the 6th with the game not completely out of hand at 4-0, and retired the first two batters with ease. In the blink of an eye, though, Stammen grooved a first pitch fastball to Odubel Herrera just above the belt who jumped all over it, smashing it well into the right field seats. Suddenly it was 5-0 and the game seemed out of reach.

The first of two homers from Freddy Galvis  on the day.

Which, if you’d been watching the Padre hitters in this one, you might have thought even earlier. The Philly starting pitcher, Jerad Eickhoff, fresh off the disabled list, and who coming into the game had struck out 65 in 76 and 2/3 innings, struck out eight Pads in the first four innings (they struck out 13 times total in the game). The young Padre free swingers showed little to no discipline at the plate, and I’d be surprised if even one of the swinging third strikes was on a pitch in the zone. All the normal culprits (aside from Myers) – Margot, Pirela, Spangenberg, Hedges – were guilty, each striking out multiple times. Let’s blame it on the hot and muggy day in Philly.

If there was a ray of hope it may have come in the fifth. Cahill threw out a lifeline and led off with a single. Eickhoff, clearly faltering, threw three wide ones to Myers, none even close. Wil was sitting dead red on the 3-0 count but, a tad impatient like he often is these days, mashed the 92 mph straight down the chute fastball 10 feet foul deep in the left field corner. On the 3-1 fastball, not quite center-cut, he harmlessly flied out deep to center. Margot followed with a single, but the “rally” unceremoniously died when both Pirela and Spangenberg also impatiently swung at the first pitch and made easy outs. Eickhoff was done for the day and the Phillies’ bullpen took it from there.

Eickoff was great on the day against the Friars.

It was an inglorious ending to an otherwise sterling road trip in which they took two out of three from the defending AL champs, the Cleveland Indians, and the first two of the series versus Philadelphia. The “embrace the tank” Padres, given up for lost in December, in March, and after a 15-30 start in which they began with the most brutal schedule in all of baseball, have won five of seven, ten out of sixteen and are 20 – 18 in the last month and a half after their brutal start.

When they lose they lose big, as their -122 run differential, worst in all of baseball, proves. But Andy Green, no matter what you think of his managerial style in regard to the Rizzo and Roberts incidents, has his young bucks and his reclamation projects consistently bouncing back from lopsided losses and playing good, hard-nosed, competitive baseball, and the Padres are going into the break on a high, despite today’s loss. The second half of the season, partially depending on who does and does not get traded, should bring more of the same. It’s been nothing if not an exciting first half of the season, and the second half promises even more.

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