San Francisco, California
The San Diego Padres were down early to their NL West rivals, the San Francisco Giants, but rallied to take a lead late into the game. However, the Padres would be heartbroken again as a blown save by Brad Hand wasted a good start by Eric Lauer and the Padres would take the loss 6-5. Let’s look at some takeaways from the game:
It was a rough first inning for the young Eric Lauer. After his baptism-by-fire at Coors Field, he was immediately jumped on by the San Francisco offense as Andrew McCutchen welcomed him to AT&T Park with an RBI triple to start off the Giants’ bottom of the first. Hits by Buster Posey and Austin Jackson pushed the Giants lead to three. However, Lauer was able to fight his way off the ropes by striking out Kelby Tomlinson to end the inning.
The rookie, who has been described as having ice flowing through his veins, then proceeded to settle down and show off the stuff that made the Padres select him in the first round of the 2016 MLB Draft, making Giants hitters whiff with an impressive cutter, burying the pitch against right-handed hitters on their back legs. The left-hander increased his tempo as well and it gave him a boost in his confidence.
Lauer was able to breeze through four scoreless innings while racking up seven strikeouts on the day. He was much more consistent on the mound as well, throwing 57 of his 88 pitches for strikes. He will look to keep his consistency in his next start against the Dodgers in Monterrey, Mexico.
Offense shows some fight
After getting down early, the Padres’ offense would show some fighting spirit by slowly chipping away at the Giants’ lead. Manny Margot would scratch across the first Padres run off the game, scoring Franchy Cordero from second base with a base hit to center field. After Eric Hosmer smoked a double off the top of the left field wall and put Travis Jankowski on third base, a Christian Villanueva groundout would plate Jankowski and the Padres would inch closer.
A three-run sixth inning pushed the Padres in front, and it came with a little help from the Giants’ defense. A Margot groundball went right through the legs of Evan Longoria, a la Billy Buckner, and the tying run would score. AJ Ellis, in for Austin Hedges after the latter was pulled from the game, flew out to right field to bring home Freddy Galvis, and Margot would score after pinch hitter Chase Headley, the proud owner of a now .103 batting average, slapped a single to right field.
The Padres haven’t shown fight like this in a long time, and it is good to see them scrounge together some runs when they are down. They showed some good patience at the plate and put together many quality at-bats, leading to walks when they would normally lead to strikeouts. If the offense can replicate this style of play going into May, they can at least become a much more consistent team.
Andy Green‘s questionable decision
With the Padres up 5-3 in the eight inning, Craig Stammen was on to pitch the inning. After a double by Pablo Sandoval, Andy Green was up and ready to…make a double switch? With only seven pitches thrown, Green pulled Stammen for his closer, Hand, in the hopes of a five-out save while placing Matt Szczur in right field for Jankowski.
While five-out saves are uncommon, they are certainly possible, but pulling out Stammen, who was still relatively fresh, was questionable to say the least. Hand got through the inning unscathed, but it was the ninth where he couldn’t secure the final out after striking out Gorkys Hernandez and McCutchen. Posey worked a walk after a ten-pitch at-bat and a Brandon Belt blooper plopped into left field for an RBI. Former Padre Nick Hundley would finish the job, hitting a two-run single to give the Giants a walk-off win.
Green knew that Hand was fresh, but it is still debatable as to whether it was a smart decision to not let Stammen finish the inning. The decision ended up costing the Padres the game though, as Hand looked exhausted in his duel with Posey and lost his control the later he went into the game.
Green: “Brad’s been really good for us for a long time. … He’s thrown once in the last seven days. He’s as fresh as can be.” Said he liked matchup with Crawford and then wanted to have him face heart of order.
— Jay Posner (@sdutPosner) May 1, 2018
When Ellis came in for Hedges, many questioned why. Now we know why. Hedges left with elbow tendinitis in his right arm, the same arm he uses to throw. Tendinitis is always a tricky injury, especially for catchers, but it certainly seems like he will be hitting the 10-day DL. Raffy Lopez is the likely option to get called up as he is on the 40-man roster, but a wild card move could be Austin Allen, who has been lighting Double-A San Antonio on fire with a .364/.423/.773 batting line while hitting twenty extra base hits, eight of them being home runs. However, he may still need some seasoning and the Padres won’t want to make any changes to their roster for the time being.
Update from the clubhouse: Austin Hedges left tonight’s game with right elbow tendinitis.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 1, 2018