The first round of the brutal fight that is the Padres vs. Giants’ 18 contests in 2011 has completed, and it was full of excitement, as the series is always wont to do.
The home opener began with a pregame ceremony celebrating 75 years of professional baseball in San Diego, and featured historic Padre greats such as Randy Jones, Garry Templeton and of course, the legendary Trevor Hoffman, who emerged through the bullpen to his indomitable anthem, “Hell’s Bells,” like he had hundreds of times before. The sellout crowd of 43,000 at Petco, which in and of itself is always a stirring sight for me to see, gave Trevor a grand ovation!
Soon, it was game time, and our Padres played Padre baseball, scraping out a small-ball 3-1 win off of a sac fly, a bases-loaded walk, and an error by Madison Bumgarner scored as an infield hit. As the popular Giants blog “McCovey Chronicles” put it: they got “Padred” (http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2011/4/5/2093379/post-game-thread-giants-lose-close-game-against-padres-that-didnt).
Aaron Harang was strong in his Padres debut, pitching six solid innings of one-run ball, and pitching his way out of a jam or two. Though he allowed a run in the first inning, he largely settled down after that, allowing only 3 singles after the 3rd inning, when the Giants posed their last real threat during the game. The bullpen, as expected, was dominant- “The Penitentiary” is back! Gregerson, Adams, Bell all worked their magic and the Padres won their 6th home opener in 8 seasons at Petco.
On Wednesday, Tim Stauffer (our new ace until Mat Latos returns to the mound) sought to follow up an excellent opening day start against the Cardinals. He ran into trouble early against Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey, spotting the stingy Tim Lincecum 3 runs of breathing room right off the start. Tim would only last 4 2/3 innings this time, allowing 10 hits and 4 earned runs.
Turning things over to the bullpen to keep the Padres in the game, Pat Neshek and Cory Luebke entered and promptly both gave up 2 runs each, and by the end of the 6th, it was 8-1 in San Francisco’s favor. This game was pretty much over… or was it? The Padres made things interesting in the 9th. When Giants closer Brian Wilson came in for his first appearance in 2011 (receiving a much too enthusiastic welcome from the way too many Giants fans at Petco yesterday), it was clear he still wasn’t quite up to his peak form- allowing a quick run and setting up the Padres to load the bases.
When Chase Headley socked a 2-run double that was only feet away from being a grand slam, he promptly was replaced by Jeremy Affeldt, who proceed to reload the bases, but also get the 2nd out of the inning. Rob Johnson came up with a chance to keep the rally going and… flew out to center, ending the game. It was unrealistic to think the Padres were going to overcome the 7-run deficit, but I was really happy to see the Padres make things interesting when their backs were against the wall.
It goes to show that this team believes in itself and each other. There is no quit in and on the 2011 Padres, and they will be a force to be reckoned with, just as they were last year. Any team that plays the Padres this year needs to realize that they will not be getting easy wins out of us! And on that note, I welcome the first Dodgers series of the season (which I will actually be able to watch up here!!). Let’s sweep the Doyers and get some momentum before facing the white-hot Reds!