Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Series Gives Padres Reason For Optimism

The first couple of weeks of 2014 were rough for the Padres. The team started out 3-6, and showed no signs of life. Starting pitchers weren't getting deep into games, the team could not buy a knock with runners in scoring position. While nine games is far too small of a sample size to make a fair assessment of any team, for a frustrated fan base the losses seemed like business as usual. Then the Tigers rolled into town, and things changed.

I attended the Friday night game, and I witnessed Andrew Cashner dominate. It might have been the greatest pitching performance I have ever witnessed a Padre have. Cashner worked ahead, throwing strikes all night. He changed speeds effectively -- throwing his fastball in a range from 91-96 MPH. His slider baffled the Tigers all night. The one time that the Tigers threatened, Cashner was able to induce a double play. He threw a complete game, one-hit shutout, with 11 strikeouts.

It wasn't just the pitching, the Padres came up with several clutch hits. Jedd Gyorko had an RBI triple in the first inning and Chase Headley knocked in a run. Later on, Headley slammed his first homer of 2014 into the right field stands. The Padres won 6-0, pounding out 13 hits.

Saturday night's game was about missed opportunities as the Padres went 1-10 with runners in scoring position. On a positive note, the team put together several good at-bats against Justin Verlander -- they just couldn't get the key hit they needed.

Sunday's game displayed another great pitching performance, this time by Tyson Ross. Ross had a rough outing in last turn, as he was knocked around in Cleveland. On Sunday, Ross displayed much better command of his fastball, and allowed one run in seven innings of work. The Padres did not have a ton of baserunners, but went 2-5 with runners in scoring position, including a two-run double by the slumping Will Venable. Xavier Nady also homered in a 5-1 win.

The Padres stand at 5-7, but a series win against a quality team is a huge reason to be optimistic. The Padres bats woke up a bit, and the pitching was excellent. While the team has a long season ahead, getting some momentum in April for the Padres is huge. Here are some other Padres notes:

  • Scott Miller reported on that Carlos Quentin will take batting practice this week. There is still no timetable on his return, but hopefully it gets him closer to a rehab assignment. 
  • Cameron Maybin became the first El Paso Chihuahua to be ejected, as he was tossed Saturday night for arguing balls and strikes. 

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