The San Diego Padres started off their 2017 MLB season this past Monday, April 3.
The opening series of the 2017 season was a four-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. In 2016, the Friars also opened the season against the Boys in Blue and that series turned out to be a disaster. The Padres were swept in a three-game set at Petco Park and were outscored 25-0 by the Dodgers. Before the first pitch was even thrown most expected the worse and were prepared to relive the nightmarish scenes of opening day in 2016. The series had some positive moments, but also had its disastrous moments in the mix. The Dodgers ended up dominating the Padres, winning three out of the four games and outscoring them 27-10. Here is a wrap of each game in this underwhelming start to 2017.
Game 1: Opening Day Demolition (Part 2)
The Dodgers had an encore of opening day in 2016, defeating the Padres by a very wide margin. The final score of the first of four games at Dodger Stadium was a 14-3 victory for the home team. There were a few positives from the game. Pitching, for the most part, was not one of them. Jhoulys Chacin was faced with the tough task of facing Clayton Kershaw. Chacin did not fare well under the pressure and gave up nine runs through three and a third. This would include giving up home runs to Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal.
Christian Bethancourt received his first opportunity to pitch and looked unimpressive, giving up a three-run home run to Corey Seager and walking two batters as well. Two positives from the shaky pitching that was seen in the game were Rule-5 draft pick, Miguel Diaz, and Craig Stammen, who pitched two and a third scoreless innings out of the pen. Diaz particularly looked sharp, not allowing any baserunner and striking out one batter. Jose Torres rounded off the pitching in the game, looking decent despite giving up a two-run home run to Yasmani Grandal. Apart from giving up the home run, the lefty also struck out two batters.
As for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw had a masterful performance, allowing one earned run on two hits with eight strikeouts through seven innings. Nothing less was expected from the best pitcher in baseball. Chris Hatcher was the only other pitcher that Dave Roberts used. The right-hander gave up one run in two innings of work. The main contributors at the plate for Los Angeles were Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson, Grandal going 2-for-5 with two home runs, while Joc Pederson went 1-for-3 with a grand slam and five RBI.
There were positives at the plate for the San Diego Padres, but for the most part the team lacked patience. No walks were issued to Padres’ batters in this encounter, along with nine strikeouts. The most disappointing players for the Friars had to be Austin Hedges and Wil Myers. The Padres backstop, Hedges, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts while Myers went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. There was really only one bright spot offensively for the Pads in Ryan Schimpf. The third baseman went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the seventh inning off Clayton Kershaw. Schimpf was also one of three players in the starting lineup that did not strike out.
The other two runs in the game were produced by Manuel Margot and Yangervis Solarte. In the top of the first inning, Solarte gave false hope to Friar faithful by driving in Wil Myers with a single. The run produced by Margot came in the eighth inning when the youngster drove in Travis Jankowski with a double. The performance was a poor one by the Padres, the most disappointing component of the team being the start put in by Jhoulys Chacin. The Venezuelan had a decent spring and was expected to perform at a higher quality than what was seen on opening day.
Game 2: Clayton for Cy Young
The second game of the series was by far the best performance of the series for the Friars, winning the game 4-0. The pitching match-up was set to be an intriguing one between Clayton Richard and Kenta Maeda. Maeda had a rough outing for his standards. The Japanese pitcher failed to provide a quality start, going five innings and allowing three runs on six hit with two walks. His counterpart, Clayton Richard, had a much better outing on Tuesday night. The lefty had shown strokes of brilliance last season, posting a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts with the Padres. His ground ball rate was the most impressive thing about Richard, coming in at 65 percent. No one expected the former Cubbie to perform coming off a rough spring training. Richard shocked the world and had one of his best starts in his career. The lefty allowed five hits through eight scoreless innings. Throughout the encounter the 6-foot-5 pitcher was making the Dodgers’ batters look silly, inducing forcing four double plays in the game and 12 total ground outs. Offensively, Andy Green’s side was not great, but there were some positives to take from the offensive showing.
Wil Myers, Ryan Schimpf, and Yangervis Solarte produced the four runs in the 4-0 victory. Schimpf drove in Wil Myers with a sac-fly in the top of the first inning. Myers had an outstanding game, going 2-for-4 with a RBI single in the eighth inning of the clash. Finally, Yangervis Solarte was the player of the game offensively, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. The first run produced by the Venezuelan infielder came in the first inning, driving in Travis Jankowski with a single. The second RBI of the game for Solarte came in the third inning, getting a solo-shot off Kenta Maeda. Other standouts at the plate were Manuel Margot and Erick Aybar. The young Margot went 2-for-4 with a run and a stolen base, while the veteran, Aybar, went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. The game was a great one for the Friars and no one suspected the best lefty named Clayton this week would be on the Padres.
Game 3: The Moral Win
The third game of the season was set to be another tough game for the Pads, going up against Rich Hill with an unproven Trevor Cahill on the mound. Cahill has been in the big leagues for several years now but he spent 2016 coming out of the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs. The 6-foot-4 pitcher was successful, posting a 2.74 ERA in 50 games with the current World Series champions, but it was unclear how Cahill would perform as a starter. The former Diamondback was surprisingly magnificent on the mound, allowing three runs (two earned) in five and two-thirds along with seven strikeouts. His counterpart, Rich Hill, was also outstanding, allowing one run on two hits through five innings. Both sets of bullpens from each team were phenomenal in the encounter. The Padres’ bullpen was especially superb, going two and two-thirds, only allowing one hit, no walks, and striking out five batters. Young lefty, Jose Torres, was the standout, striking out three batters, making it five strikeouts in two games for the 23-year-old. The Dodgers pen did not achieve the same number of strikeouts but was just as effective, only allowing a hit and one walk in four innings of work.
The game started out grim for the San Diego Padres as they fell to an early deficit in the first inning of the game. To rub salt into the wounds, the runs produced by the Boys in Blue were influenced by former Friars. Chula Vista native, Adrian Gonzalez, got the first run of the game, driving in Corey Seager with a ground-rule double to left field. The next run was produced by a self-destructive play by Wil Myers, who did not properly catch the ball at first base, allowing Logan Forsythe to reach first and Adrian Gonzalez to score. The game was exciting throughout, with the score still being too close to call, the Padres only down by two runs. Hunter Renfroe intensified the encounter by getting a solo shot off Rich Hill in the fourth inning of the game, decreasing the deficit to only one run. The Dodger quickly retaliated to Renfroe’s home run, Yasiel Puig getting a home run of his own in the bottom half of the inning. After four innings, the score remained 3-1 and not much changed, the final score being 3-1. As much as the offense tried to crawl back into the game, they could not, only obtaining three hits in the entirety of the clash. The Friars were 0-3 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine men on base. The pitching was the highlight of the duel for the Friars in this moral victory, only allowing three runs, three walks, and striking out 12 batters.
Game Four: The Moral Defeat
The final game of the series left a bitterness in Padres’ fans mouths after two consecutive positive results. This was by far the worst performance of the series for the Friars. Everything was going wrong for Andy Green, from the starter to the bullpen to the offense, the game ending in a 10-2 loss. Jered Weaver was the man on the bump for the Padres. He would be facing Brandon McCarthy, who was 7-1 against the Pads in his career. There was speculation about both pitchers heading into the game, Weaver having an abysmal spring and McCarthy coming back from an injury-plagued 2016. Weaver’s struggles showed during his outing, pitching five frames, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks. Yasiel Puig proved to be Weaver’s poison in the game, obtaining two two-run home runs off the veteran right-hander. The relief core was not any better for Andy Green, allowing six runs and eight walks. Jarred Cosart, who could possibly make his way into the rotation, was not much better than Jered Weaver. Cosart allowed two runs and three walks in just two-thirds of an inning. The most disappointing performance of the day was by Christian Bethancourt, who does not seem to be adjusting to his new super-utility role. The Panamanian player gave up four runs and walked four batters in just a third of an inning. Craig Stammen, Brad Hand, and Brandon Maurer combined for two shutout innings with three strikeouts.
Brandon McCarthy was not that sharp on the hill, allowing two runs in six innings. The Padres could not take advantage of McCarthy’s mistakes, going 0-for-7 in the game with runners in scoring position. Offensively, the Friars could not do anything, getting six hits in the game, three coming from one player. The lone bright spot of the game was that lone player, Hunter Renfroe, who finished the game going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. The Friars combined for eight strikeouts in the encounter, Manuel Margot and Ryan Schimpf both going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The batters all looked as impatient as members of the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks. The game was the epitome of what can go wrong this season if everything does go wrong. The match felt more unbalanced than the outrageous 14-3 defeat on opening day. The younger bats like Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot, and Austin Hedges need to get it together in the upcoming series against the San Francisco Giants. This is a young team and there will be more games like this one in future encounters this season. The Padres had a rough series and will not have it any easier in the opening series at Petco Park this weekend against the San Francisco Giants. Hopefully, the young bats find composure and the veteran arms can find confidence. Go, Padres!