Not a great start for the Padres. That’s an understatement!
Jake Peavy looked good for the first three innings. The last 2 1/3 innings were quite different. For the second straight posteason start, Peavy failed to come through in a divisional playoff series against St. Louis taking the loss again.
As I stated in my preview column, Peavy needed to give the Padres seven solid innings. He didn’t make it out of the sixth inning. Luckily, the Padres combination of Rudy Seanez and Chan Ho Park held the Cardinals scoreless in the last 3 2/3 innings.
Peavy’s first and biggest mistake came in the fourth against St. Louis’ Albert Pujols.
Pujols caught a huge break in the at-bat when Mike Piazza could not catch a foul pop-up that certainly would’ve changed the tide of the game. Pujols ended the at-bat by smashing a pitch over the center field fence for a two-run home run and a 2-0 lead.
The Cards added one other run in the inning and single runs in the fifth and sixth innings en route to a 5-2 victory. Peavy finished went 5 1/3 allowing 11 hits and five runs walking one but striking out only two.
Pujols’ homer changed the game and took the Petco Park crowd out of it for a while. While Pujols definitely contributed to the victory, his teammates had a hand as well at the plate. Every starter except David Eckstein had a hit on the day, even starting pitcher Chris Carpenter. Second baseman Ron Belliard had an outstanding game at the plate with two hits and a walk. However, people will talk about his play to end the seventh inning which might be one of the best defensive plays of the year. With the bases loaded, two outs and a 5-1 Cardinals lead, Todd Walker, not the fleetest of foot, sent a ground ball that seemed headed for the outfield and a two-run single. However, Belliard snagged the grounder in shallow right field, turned and threw off balance to first to get Walker ending the rally.
Carpenter was effective but not overpowering in collecting seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings of work. He used a good fastball and a sharp curve to his advantage to get out key spots. Tyler Johnson and Adam Wainwright finished up with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball each.
San Diego batters had some success working Carpenter’s pitch count later in the game; although, Carpenter did have a 5-pitch second inning. He finished with 105 pitches, scattering five hits, walking one.
San Diego’s offense mostly came from the bat of leadoff man Dave Roberts, who went 3 for 4 and score the Padres’ lone run. Brian Giles, batting second, added two hits and delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth scoring Roberts. The Padres were quite the disappointment in the 3-9 spots going a combined 1 for 24 and 10 strikeouts.
My friend Steve told me today that there are 11 former Red Sox on the Padres. The Boston Red Sox of the West? One of those was Mark Bellhorn, Mr All or Nothing. Bellhorn pinch hit in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out but struck out.
The Padres are going to start David Wells in game 2 against St. Louis’ Jeff Weaver. I like starting Chris Young for Game 3 on the road where he’s been unbeaten this season. I think Wells will be ready for Game 2. I think in this case Bochy was wise to go with the veteran instead of the younger Young, who has never pitched in the postseason. Offensively, I think the Padres should reshulffle the lineup to put a little more speed at the top third of the order. Giles would be a good No. 3 hitter for this series. Roberts can get on base. Cameron had a strong September and a veteran like him in the 2-hole could spark the offense.
I was thinking Roberts, Cameron, Giles, Piazza then move Gonzalez, who went 0 for 4 including two strikeouts, to fifth. I have a bad feeling that leaving Gonzalez third in the series isn’t going to pay off well. The Padres need to come out aggressive Thursday afternoon but if they are to stand a chance, the 3-8 spots have to do something better than Game One’s disappointing performance
I was pleased to see Seanez and Park get some mop-up work giving Meredith, Linebrink, and Embree another additional day to rest especially after going full-tilt the last week or so of the season.