Well, that didn’t go as expected. The Padres knew that they were facing MLB’s hottest team when they entered Miller Park for the three game set, but showing up with the N.L.’s third lowest team ERA themselves, and Cashner, Kennedy, and Ross heading to the hill you figured there would be at least two pitcher’s duels against the N.L.’s second best team ERA. It turned out here was only one…and it featured neither Cashner nor Ross. Here’s how it all went down:
- GAME #1 – Cashner went to the hill in the opener, and for the first time this season did not have his best stuff. Specifically he did not have his best command of his 2-seam fastball. He left some pitches up and out over the plate to the pitcher Peralta, Gennett, and then Ramirez and they doubled, tripled, and homered respectively giving the Brewers a 3-run, 3rd inning lead. The Pads offense did fight back scoring two in fourth, but Cashner allowed another run to cross in the Brewer 5th putting it effectively out of reach. Denorfia homered in the 7th, but even though the Pads would load the bases with only one out, they were unable to push across the tying run against Peralta and Milwaukee’s bullpen, and the Brew-Crew held on to win 4-3. 1-0 Brewers.
- GAME #2 – It was Kennedy’s turn to hold Milwaukee’s offense in check while the offense tried to figure out the Brewers opening day starter Gallardo. Kennedy, more than held his end of the bargain pitching his gutsiest outing yet in a Padres uniform. He worked out of a 2nd and 3rd, 0-out jam in the second inning with a strikeout, pop-up, and strike out to strand both runners. Then in the third he surrendered a single and two walks to load the bases with 1 out, and again left the runners on the bases getting a big strikeout for the final out. He burned up 70 stressful pitches in the first three innings alone, and appeared to be potentially vulnerable to the pitch count affecting his ability to continue on effectively, but he fought on. In fact he ended up lasting 6 innings allowing only 1 run to cross, holding a 1-1 tie. The lone Padres run up to that point was plated in the 5th, thanks to a Alonso 2B, Denorfia 1b, and a successful Kennedy safety squeeze. And that’s how the score remained for 6 more inning as the Pads bullpen matched zeros with the Brewer ‘pen until Headley finally broke the deadlock with a 447’ solo blast in the 12th. Vincent, Benoit, Thayer, Roach, and Street combined for 6 scoreless bullpen innings with Roach getting his first MLB victory, and Street his 7th save of the year. It was an important, and hard fought win for the Pads to even the series 1-1 .
- GAME #3 – Ross had been super sharp in his previous two outings, and the Pads needed him to continue that dominance to take the rubber match, but it wasn’t meant to be. Despite the Pads scoring in the first on a lead off Cabrera double, and Smith sac fly, Ross just couldn’t hold the lead for even an inning. Missing with pitches up in the zone, the Brewers scored 1 in the first to tie the game, then took a 4-1 lead in the second thanks to a 3-run HR by their up to that point coldest hitter Segura. He had not homered since last July, but a change up thrown right in to his swing path broke his power slump, and put the Brewers ahead for good 4-1. The Friars threatened with a run in the 7th, but any extended rally was snuffed out, with the final 5-2 score giving the series to the Brewers 2-1.
It was another series that put all the pressure on the Padres pitching staff, who as a whole have responded incredibly well having to perform under the pressure of having to deliver games worth of crucial pitches in close contests almost every single night. At some point the offense will need to step up and start putting up some runs to take some of the weight off the shoulders of the hurlers before they crack under the nightly intensity of their charge. As ineffective as the offense has been overall, the Padres are still only 2 game sunder .500, and 3 games behind the N.L. West leading Dodgers. It’s the toughness that they’v shown, and ability to still somehow scratch a couple of runs to grab some close wins thus far, that leads one to wonder what they’ll be able to accomplish once their offense wakes up and does nothing more than return to it’s historic norms in terms of individual averages, on base percentages, and slugging percentages. Hopefully that happens against the upcoming 4-game set with the tough Nationals.
Here are the pitching match ups.
- Game #1 (4:05 p.m.) – Stults vs. Zimmerman
- Game #2 (4:05 p.m.) – Erlin vs. Strasburg
- Game #3 (10:05 a.m.) – Cashner vs. Roark
- Game #4 (10:35 a.m.) – Kennedy vs. Jordan
The Nationals have the third most productive offense in the N.L., but their team ERA is in the middle of the pack, and after a hot start they have lost 7 of their last 12. On top of that there has been the recent distraction of Bryce Harper being benched for lack of hustle, so the timing may be right for the Pads to rebound and take the middle series of this 11 game road trip.