When the San Diego Padres upgraded their team with some much-needed offensive firepower, we all knew they would have some deficiencies. The team’s defense was immediately called into question, and rightfully so. The Padres continue to play average defense at best, but yet the defense is not the only major issue with the team.
The fact that the Padres pitching staff has yet to lay down a sacrifice bunt is absolutely amazing, and not in a good way. Tyson Ross failed to lay down a successful bunt after Will Middlebrooks blooped a double to open the fifth inning. His bunt was too hard, and Middlebrooks was a force out at third. Abraham Almonte promptly stepped to the plate and flew out to center which would have easily scored Middlebrooks, provided Ross laid down a successful bunt. Tyson Ross and his inability to do something which is fundamentally correct, again comes back to hurt the Padres.
In the same 5th inning of the game on Wednesday night, Ross walks the pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada to open the inning. Of course he comes around and scores the tying run for the Cubs. Wada is a horrible hitting pitcher and the fact Ross couldn’t pitch to him is ridiculous. I know that nobody is perfect, but these types of miscues can be a killer to a teams psyche. The allowance of Wada to score leading off an inning with a walk, and the failure to lay down a sacrifice bunt were the two key plays in Wednesday’s loss. Bud Black after the games indicated that very fact. He directly pointed out the failed sacrifice as the key play to the game.
The base running errors have seemed to cease, but there are still things about this team that are troubling. It is a new group of players so Padres fans will have to remain patient, while they sort out their issues. Bud Black has a tough task in setting a lineup every night. The Padres have so many moving pieces in the infield. Yangervis Solarte, Will Middlebrooks, Jedd Gyorko and Cory Spangenberg could easily start on any given night. Black has been rotating the bunch, and no set line-up seems inevitable at this point.
The pitching staff has been an absolute mess. Currently second behind the Milwaukee Brewers for most home runs allowed as a staff. James Shields leads the major leagues in home runs allowed and Tyson Ross leads the league in walks allowed. Those are two categories you don’t want to be leading in. It’s still May, and there is time for adjustments. That is a fact. However continuing to give away games can and will hurt this team in the long run.
When it comes down to the end of September it is amazing how one single game can make or break a team. That is why these games given away in April and May, can be very detrimental to the team. Every time I see a game just given away to the other team, I think about the fact… That could be the game that makes the difference in the season. The fundamentals on this team need to improve in order for this team to grow.
It is truly ironic that we see an almost polar opposite team from seasons past. The teams of the past few seasons were built on great defense and solid pitching. Both areas that this team is suffering. The defense was expected, but the pitching deficiency is a total surprise to most. The pressures of performing with more expectations might be getting the best of some of the pitchers. If that is the case it is mental and should be able to be fixed.