Two shutout losses, wasting a great start from your staff ace, and losing your powerful middle infielder … there have certainly been better weekends in San Diego.
The Nationals starting staff absolutely stole the headlines in this series, giving up just 10 hits and two earned runs in 23 innings of work. Over that stretch, they racked up 24 strikeouts and didn’t walk a single batter. Not one. Zero. Zip.
Let that settle for a minute. More than one-third of outs were recorded via the K, yet they couldn’t manage a single free pass. This indicates that the Padres hitters were expanding their strike zone, and for a team that struggles to clear the bases with one swing of the bat, a lack of plate discipline will prove to be lethal more often than not. Even more concerning is the fact that San Diego didn’t even see the best Washington has to offer. One could argue that Steven Strasburg, Doug Fister, and Gio Gonzalez are their top three starters … a trio that combined to throw exactly zero pitches in this series. Instead, their bats were silenced by Tanner Roark, a pitcher with less than 150 career innings but has very quietly given up three or fewer earned runs in every start over the last month, Blake Treinen (three career starts), and Jordan Zimmerman.
On Friday, Seth Smith was the only starter to not be rung up. On Saturday, the middle two-thirds of the lineup accounted for 80 percent of the Padres’ hits. On Sunday, Smith and Alexi Amarista were the only two players with hits. That’s 42 words and it tells you all you need to know about their anemic attack. The top of the order was useless (Everth Cabrera was hitless in 13 at-bats, striking out six times and seeing just 51 pitches) and without late heroics from Yonder Alonso (a game tying homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a walk that helped spur the 11th inning rarely), this Padres offense failed to generate any opportunities, let alone runs.
If you’re anything like me, you could use some positives to take from this series. Well, Andrew Cashner looked like an ace, tossing six scoreless innings in his return from the Disabled List, so that’s a plus. The bullpen blew his victory but was otherwise solid, pitching nine scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts in the other two games. Tim Stauffer, who simply hasn’t cut it as a starter over the last two weeks, offered a gritty performance (3.2 shutout innings with twice as many K’s as base runners allowed) in long relief and may have saved his job in the process. That being said, this was the second consecutive series in which the bullpen pitched more innings than the starters, a trend that is going to make for a very long season should it continue.
Tuesday at Phillies: 2-5 Loss
Wednesday at Phillies: 0-3 Loss
Philadelphia Series Recap:
The Phillies aren’t loaded with hitting upside, but two runs in three games simply isn’t going to get it done. Padres hitters have reached base 13 times through two games in Philadelphia … and struck out 18 times! The lack of opportunities is one thing, but the high strikeout rate (not to mention their embarrassing low walk rate: one free pass per six punch outs) means that all of the stars need to align perfectly just to score a single run. Will Venable had two hits on Tuesday while the rest of the Padres lineup went just 8/56 (.143 batting average) in the first two games of this series. Two runs? Heck, you might be able to convince me that they overachieved.
The starters, if nothing else, ate up some innings against a poor offense. The 3.21 ERA is impressive, but the 0.86 WHIP and 10:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is outstanding. Yes, the Phillies are like the Padres in the sense that they struggle to score runs, but the fact that the starting staff dominated is encouraging. The bullpen has been great this year, but they wasted a strong Tyson Ross outing and blew a golden opportunity to win a game in which they needed just one timely hit. I have faith in the bullpen and believe that this is a blip on the radar (1.1 innings pitched, six base runners, and the walk-off three-run homer), but with wins difficult to come by, these are must-win games.
Weekly Grade: D
San Diego was shut out three times this week and their lone victory came in a game in which the opposing bullpen blew a ninth inning lead with two outs. Yikes. Two strong starts from Cashner and Ross allowed the Padres to earn a passing grade, but this week was by no means a success. The lineup was dominated with consistency, and while the starters have showed some potential and the bullpen is very good, the 2014 Padres aren’t going to go anywhere if they are scoring three or fewer runs this often. They continue to play with the lineup, and while it didn’t pay dividends on Sunday, Iâ’ like to see the Everth Cabrera – Seth Smith – Carlos Quentin trio atop the lineup a bit more, as I believe those are the best three pure hitters on this roster. Maybe put some pop after those three (Jedd Gyorko when healthy, Chase Headley, etc) and speed at the bottom (Will Venable). Ideally, Iâ’ also like this Padres offense, regardless of the lineup construction, try to manufacture runs, as they simply have proven incapable of significant power.
San Diego finishes their three game series with a day game in Philadelphia today and head to New York for a three-game set with the Mets. They then travel to Seattle for a pair of games and come back home to finish up the second half of that four game series.
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