It’s becoming blasé. Another series, another series win.
The starting pitcher gives us a solid start. The bullpen does their thing. The bats come through in the clutch. The defense, while not the 2016 Cubs, makes the plays they’re supposed to make. The Padres are not only not tanking, they’re elevating.
In Sunday afternoon’s contest against the Giants, like Cortez the Killer (Neil Young reference), Hector Sanchez, the ex-Giant Giant killer, took vengeance on his old team, going 3-run bomb in the first to get the Padres off to a flying start.
Filling in for the still “hazy” Austin Hedges, Sanchez followed up his two-run walk-off from the right side on Saturday night with a 400-foot smash to right center from the left side. I’m sure Bruce Bochy was thrilled for his ex-catcher.
Here is video of the bomb, and the Padres were off to a great start in the first.
San Diego completed the team cycle in the first inning (Wil Myers had earlier singled) when Cory Spangenberg followed with a triple, and the hottest hitter on the team not named Hector Sanchez, Erick Aybar (who’d a thunk?), rifled an RBI-double into the right field corner. 4-0 good guys after one.
The overmatched Giants (dang that feels good to type) attempted to mount a response. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford led off the second with back-to-back doubles, and with nobody out, Crawford got to third on a wild pitch. Trevor Cahill said not on my watch, however, striking out the next two before getting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija, on a comebacker, and one run was all the Giants would get all afternoon.
The Pads weren’t done muscling up. In the bottom of the 3rd, Myers and Sanchez got their second hits, setting the stage for Spangenberg to launch a Samardzija right-down-the-middle 0-2 fastball well over the center field wall, the second 3-run home run of the game for the home team. It was a ghastly 0-2 pitch made by a man making almost nine figures, who sports a 4-11 record with many years left on his contract. Give them credit, the Giants have won three World Series this decade, making every Padre and Bochy fan envious, but the men from San Francisco have fallen on hard, hard times, and the Padres have the brighter future.
Cahill and the bullpen took it from there. Trevor cruised into the seventh protecting the 7-1 lead, and with men on 2nd and 3rd and two out, Andy Green took the ball and gave it to the normal long reliever, Craig Stammen, to mop up. Carlos Asuaje made a beautiful play off a hot-shot by Hunter Pence and the Pads got out of the inning unscathed (Video Above). Kevin Quackenbush and Jose Torres handled the 8th and 9th respectively without any problems. Final score? 7-1.
One of the bigger stories of the day was Cahill’s performance, as he seems fully back from his six-week absence with shoulder issues. If the Padres have a starting pitcher trade chip, it’s Cahill, who when healthy has been our best and most consistent pitcher. He went 6 and 2/3, scattering eight hits and one walk, striking out eight, largely in command throughout against a veteran-hitting team. How he got away from the Cubbies, I’m not sure, but what a pickup by Preller and the gang, which might yet produce even more long-term tangible benefits in the form of a trade before August 1.
Cahill was great today, but the bats were impressive. Spangenberg’s three-run shot to center was smoked on an 0-2 pitch.
San Diego won their third series in a row, the first time they’ve done that since August 2015. They’ve won 7 out of 10, and are something like 26–22 in the last seven weeks, though that may be inexact by a game either way. Picked by Fangraphs, basically the Las Vegas of sabremetrics, to be the worst team in all of baseball this year, the Padres are nine games ahead of the Phillies, five games ahead of the woeful Giants, and have also passed Cincinnati and the White Sox in the overall standings. They’re also playing consistently better baseball than Miami, Detroit, and Baltimore, who they may yet pass as well.
Talent-wise, however, this team is still over-matched, and everything can change from game-to-game, even inning-to-inning. Certainly, the team will look different after the trade deadline. In the meantime, it’s been an enjoyable run, almost becoming expected. Who’d a thunk it? Ho-hum.