For the first 3 innings, it seemed as if the Walter Silva, the Padres young rookie would pitch a perfect game needing less than 80 pitches – swings and misses, weakass grounders (he actually looks like a sinkerballer.)
Then stuff happened.
When you are a sinkerballer, the worst thing that can happen, besides the sinker not sinking, is that grounders find holes (which is what happens to Sampson, usually, when he gets hit) and singles happen.
So in the 4th, Bourn hit a screaming liner to first, then Tejada (thankfully back in the 2-hole instead of Keppinger) and Berkman hit ones that got by, then (although I was dreading the usual GIDP) Carlos singled to right and Tejada scored from second – Lance went to third on the bad throw, which SHOULD have been to the cutoff man.
Yes, Evelyn, the cutoff man is a VERY important man. You see, he is supposed to be positioned in such a way that he can make the decision of which base is best to throw to, as he has had the second of 2 to concentrate while the OF has gone to GET the ball, and then, because the distance is much shorter from the IF to a base, he SHOULD be able to make a short ACCURATE throw (unlike Miggy last night to Blum – they SHOULD have gotten Adrian Gonzalez out by 15′ had the throw been good) which would hopefully either ensure an out, would prevent a runner from going, say, first to third on a single AND prevent a throw from going, shall we say, astray.
Where was I?
Oh yeah. Men on first and third, 1 out. Pitcher needs an easy GIDP, right? And it is Geoff Blum, who should be able to oblige. Which he does, except that the ball comes right at the first baseman, who doesn’t glove it well and the ball, which should have been a nice 3-6-1 GIDP goes into into RF – Lance trots home and it’s men on first and second, 1 out.
Pitcher must be besides himself – 2 runs in on 3 crappy singles, a bad throw and a botched GIDP ball. He then gets Pudge to FO to shallowish right – Clank CERTAINLY can’t get to third on THAT ball. So he needs only ONE more out to get out of the mess, right?
Well, the home plate ump didn’t help him much because with The Gritmeister and his sub .200 OBP up, he called the 6th pitch Ball 3, instead of the strike 3 it actually was (the ump was erratic all night – and it was Chuck Merriwether, who is usually good…)
So then it’s bases loaded, 2 out and Kaz Matsui hits what SHOULD be an inning ending grounder to the SS, who kind of juggles it before throwing, and instead of being an error, it’s an IF hit, a runs scores, and it’s STILL bases loaded, 2 outs and the pitcher, Moehler, who is no Hampton at the plate, is up.
And sure enough, he hits a nice easy ball to third. Now, when you have an old, slow pitcher running to first and you have grabbed the inning-ending grounder, and the pitcher is 40′ from the base, you just set yourself and fire a strike to your Gold Glove first baseman (and yes I know he stole that GG from both Pujols and Berkman.) But no. He kind of looks around, wonders if he should step on third or fire to second, and by the time he gets him mind made up to throw to third, he hurries the throw, fires the ball past Gonzalez and runners keep coming around. The RF, Venables, wasn’t backing up the play (guess he couldn’t believe that the third baseman could botch SUCH an easy out) and Gonzalez had to go and get the ball himself.
When he reaches it, Matsui is running home from third and is a GOOD 30′ from the plate. So all Gonzalez needs to do is fire a strike to the catcher, who is waiting and in position and Matsui is a dead duck. But no. Gonzalez throws WAAAAYYY past the catcher and the ball bounces off the dugout, Matsui is safe and Moehler goes to second on the throw (why Gonzalez wasn’t given an error on that throw I don’t know.)
And there is the poor pitcher, 6 runs scored on 4 piddly singles, a walk which SHOULD have been a K, 2 botched plays and two (sorry, it was) errors which led to three runs.
The pitcher was kind of shell-shocked, understandably, although he managed to get Bourn out, and he was pulled for a PH the next inning. The kid actually threw VERY well and not a single Astro actually hit the ball hard, only 2 even reached the OF.
Now, I went through this entire Unfortunate Event just to demonstrate that good fielding is essential and that even very good fielders like Adrian Gonzalez can allow their concentration to lapse. I think it has to do with that mysterious, unmeasurable Thing in baseball that the players call “confidence.” And I think that when your team goes down by 6 runs in 1 inning on essentially a bunch of piddly singles, errors, misplays and a missed Strike 3, well, the game is essentially OVAH. It is somehow different when the 6 runs down happened because the pitcher gave up doubles in the gap and homers because that was HIS fault alone and somehow, it doesn’t see to affect the rest of the players the way geting piddled to death does…
It’s funny – I wouldn’t have said that Moehler pitched “well” but I look at my scorebook and I see that he only gave up a solo homer, a double, 2 singles, 4 walks, 1 run over 6 innings and got EIGHT Ks. Let’s just say that with the exception of Adrian Gonzales’ walk in the 4th (and Ball 3 was actually Strike 3) Moehler got more than a few pitches outside the strike zone called as strikes (the most egregious was strike 1 to Chase Headley in the second – that pitch was a GOOD 2″ outside.) Yes, I know that it was OUR pitcher who had the advantage today, but I object in principle to pitches not in the strike zone being called strikes and pitches in the strike zone being called balls and different ball strike calls for different pitchers.
Fair is fair.
And this afternoon it is Wandy vs Kevin Correia (yes, the ex-Giant swingman) and let’s hope that Wandy has the curveball working.