Framing the Friars: Nausea Strikes Padre’ Fans in 1-0 Loss

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Credit: AP Photo

It was a street of nausea actually
Jack Kerouac

The Padres played a great game Saturday night. If you want pitching and defense, the backbone of any good championship team, it was in abundance for the once-again ultimately losing Friars, who took it on the chin 1-0 in 10 to the champion Houston Astros.

The infield continued their flying start, turning in three double plays along with eleven ground ball outs to back up Bryan Mitchell’s three-hit pitching through five and two-thirds. It was a big step forward for Mitchell holding the mighty Astros to no runs despite an ungodly six walks to go with the unhittable rest of it. The relief pitching was beautiful, aside from an ankle injury to Kirby Yates which forced him to the X-ray room. Craig Stammen was in peak form, striking out four in four batters, while Kazuhisa Makita and Robbie Erlin sailed through their hitters as well. The entirety of the Padres pitching staff threw a big fat giant zero against the Mega Oil Machine that is the Astros Offense, until….

Yes, until.

In the bottom of the 10th, Erlin was the victim of a seeing eye single through the shift on the right side (if you ask me, the odds of the ball getting through to the outfield based on how hard the ball was hit {frankly, not all that], maybe 11-14%, tops). They pinch-ran some guy named Fisher. He stole second. Wait a second though. He was called out, and five years ago (even less) he would have been out, but today they review things and undid the original call and deemed him safe. “Safe for what?” I thought to myself. As it turned out, for more good fortune.

Alex Bregman was up, two out, Jose Altuve on deck. Bregman had to be pitched to, despite first base being open. It was a fool’s errand to go up against Altuve with the game on the line if you could avoid it. Phil Maton had been brought in specifically to get Bregman, despite the fact Erlin was throwing the Ace of Spades on speed dial, cutting through the Astros’ lineup like a cowhand before the sun has come up.

Maton had him set up, already running high hard ones at the letters for strikes and off-speed Susans that had Bregman wanting to chase. With the game on the line and a man on second, the Houston fans were making noise almost for the first time that evening, Padres pitching had been so dominant from the start. Maton threw one high, hard, and away. Bregman swung. The ball went up the ladder. Way up the ladder. Up and down the chute it went. And when it came down, neither Eric Hosmer nor A.J. Ellis were waiting for it, nor were Christian Villanueva or Phil Maton for that matter. It splash landed, Houston touchdown-style, mission control, David Bowie and all that, World Series Hangover, just in case the last Flood wasn’t big enough.

The ball landed harmlessly 10 feet behind Hosmer, who had come running in at full gallop for some 70-80 feet, but ended up running up under the backspin of the ball as it danced its way back to earth from its launch whatever its angle was, it must have been steep with a forward tilt. The run, Fisher, came easily home. The party was on in Houston. Back home in Diego, we had found yet a new way to cry in our cups again.

Thus ended an otherwise well-played game on the Friars’ part. Again. Their offense was abysmal, however. Three times they led off with doubles and ended up with nothing to show for it. Nada. Zilch. It would have only taken one for much of the game. Poor baseball in that sense. They won’t even play .500 baseball if they waste runners like that all season.

Otherwise, behind the scenes of the most important thing, the record, there is much to like about the 2018 Padres. They play tremendous infield defense, which should keep them in a lot of games, and the bats should come around. They’re due for a few breaks as well. You have to earn what you get though. Somebody said that.

Framing the Friars: these dudes play some great baseball but it’s a results-oriented business. They have to carve out some W’s, especially on the ones handed to them on a silver platter, like Saturday night when only one run would have done it, and three leadoff doubles wasn’t enough to get the horse to drink.

Not even a horse in Houston.

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