San Diego, California
Game 2 of 162 has come and gone for the San Diego Padres, and boy does this one sting. With a 6-3 lead going into the final inning, closer Brad Hand was unable to close the door on the Milwaukee Brewers and coughed up the lead and the Friars quietly went down in the bottom of the inning to absorb the loss 8-6.
The Padres showed some fight this time however and the offense was certainly better than yesterday. Despite the sour ending, the game still had some positives (the beautiful brown uniforms one of them). Let’s take a look at some takeaways from tonight’s game.
Joey Lucchesi had some first game jitters
It is completely understandable for a rookie to have some butterflies in his first game in the bigs. So naturally it took some time for Lucchesi to completely settle in. The fourth-round pick of 2016 was the first pitcher of his draft class to make his major league debut, and Lorenzo Cain welcomed him by smacking a double to deep center field. The young man would surrender two runs on three hits in the first inning before escaping the inning with a ground ball out.
Lucchesi had trouble with his location frequently, elevating many two-seam fastballs and leaving pitches in the zone that were hit for solid line drives. However, after some calming chats with Austin Hedges, the lefty settled down on the mound and was able to finish his pitches and even record his first ever big league strikeout, elevating a fastball past Ryan Braun.
He would be pulled in the sixth inning after Cory Spangenberg couldn’t complete a throw to first, and Lucchesi walked off the mound with 75 Major League pitches under his belt. Despite looking shaky at times, Lucchesi showed the stuff that made him so successful in the Minors, and it will be fun to watch him develop from this point forward.
The Padres can actually hit
Shocking yes given last night’s spectacle, but the Padres’ bats awoken tonight off of former Padre Jhoulys Chacin. Eric Hosmer had an went 2-4 with an RBI, Wil Myers was 2-4, and Spangenberg and Hedges had back-to-back home runs. What was better was that the offense cut down on their strikeouts and worked the counts to get said hits. Hedges’ home run was on a 2-2 count, Manny Margot had an RBI single on a full count, and Hosmer’s RBI double came on a 2-1 count.
Patience at the plate has been a key lesson that hitting coach Matt Stairs has been trying to drill into the Friar’s head, and the walks the Padres are drawing is an encouraging sign. San Diego drew four walks tonight, with even the infamously impatient Hunter Renfroe drawing a pinch-hit walk. He would come around to score on Hosmer’s double. It is still to early to tell if Stairs’ philosophy will work, but this very small sample size is promising to say the least.
The defense looks better
Despite the errors by Hand and Spangenberg, the defense still looked solid throughout the game. After a ball went off his webbing, Margot made several running catches and covered a lot of ground in the outfield. Myers was competent in right field when he had to be and even made a nice running catch on a ball slicing away from him. Before the error, Spangenberg made a nice diving stop while Freddy Galvis made a run saving dive in the first inning.
It is an absolute treat to watch Galvis and Margot play defense, and hopefully Myers can handle himself in the outfield well enough to not hurt the team. Speaking of Myers…
Myers dinged up
While it may not be something to hit the panic button over, Myers looked to be a little slow out of the box following a groundout and, after a single in the seventh inning, was pulled for a pinch runner in Matt Szcur. While Don Orsillo and Mark Grant questioned why Myers was pulled, the answer would come later as Andy Green announced he simply had a sore back and may in fact play tomorrow. The health scare was bad for a player the Padres will be counting on, but fans should be relieved to know that it is not as egregious as it may seem.
The Padres will have to bounce back from this loss and show some more of that fighting spirit that kept them going the last two games. The season is still young, so San Diego can still avoid the sweep with a win tomorrow.