What happens when an immovable average team meets an unstoppable tank?
We get weird series like this past weekend, for starters. First game, first inning, first pitch, you could tell it was going to be an anything goes series: Miguel misses his spot and Szczur makes him pay right away. The vantage point from our self-upgraded up but to the left of home plate seats made it tough to gauge the fly balls, but this was one you could hear go out. Was the start of Miguel missing his spots, both in the big Padres’ hits and getting behind in counts early. Not something that’s been habit for him this year.
It’s tough to get the “but y’know, we might still have a chance” feeling with this team, especially when real time decisions are made for development rather than winning a baseball game. (I’m sure Asche pinch hitting in the ninth was to give us a position to win and nothing else, right?) But this series did have that vibe throughout. Friday wasn’t much besides Leury continuing his absolute tear but no one else getting productive hits, but come bottom 7, with Garcia’s second home run sitting in the right field stands, top of the order coming up with the firework clouds still hovering with just one out, it certainly felt more realistic a comeback opportunity than at any point last year. We won’t often need to be, but there’s just enough of a competitive edge to this team to make me think we can be competitive when we need to be.
That wasn’t how things ended Friday. Same start Saturday: leadoff homer for the Padres. We’d trade homers until The Many Wild Pitch Adventures of Jose Abreu ends in a rattling tying run. In a race to see who’d make the last blunder, Kahnle throws an ill-fated fastball that winds up tying the game.
I’d like to say the walkoff hit- solid contact in the clutch by Yolmer and great, great hustle by Saladino- is a difference between last year and now. And why not- we certainly saw enough bullpen losses last year. It is the sort of win you’d like to see more against Boston at the end of the month, or a Central opponent just because, not necessarily the most blatant rebuild roster in the league. But, again, competitive when we need to be. No time wasted after blowing the lead- get ‘em over, get ‘em in, get this over with. (Sending more guys home on plays like that has been a really refreshing difference, as well. Hustle won this game.)
Rubber game. Hoo boy, was the weirdest saved for the very end. Don’t want to recap a pretty unique series with my usual “this is different than last year” narrative, but this, THIS was the definitive this ABSOLUTELY would not have happened last year game of the season so far. Quintana had another “stellar but for two or three really bad pitches” outing similar to the one against Kluber last month. And boy, the stage was set for another Q mental health check loss. One run early, nuthin’ after (and with bases loaded, no outs). One bad pitch late, down 3-1. No way to win, but still up to lose.
What more to recap that eighth besides my scorecard that’s essentially pure scribbles after trying to fit it all in? Yes, probably doesn’t happen with any other team. Maybe a late bases loaded walk, maybe a power hitter scoring on a botched bunt for some unholy reason, but probably not both in the same inning with another six runs tagged as well. If nothing else, this was a series that we wanted to see the bats firing on all cylinders at some point, and we made up for two games of not doing so and then some in this eight run eighth. Not sure we can expect it more than once a series, but again, if we need to do it, it looks like we somehow can find a way to do so.
Really it would just be nice to steer away from the long ball narrative juuuuust a little. Not holding my breath for more innings like that eighth, but hopefully the Cali dry heat can spark the bats across the board. If anything this series showed that we are tanking, but not tanking THAT hard.
Some pre-West coast best coast trip quick hits:
- In terms of actually tanking and should we be losing more- basically, to Seth Beer or not to Seth Beer- I think we’ve got enough prospects that it’s not entirely warranted. Plus, historically great hitter from a southern college as a top prospect… where have I heard that before…
- Soto. Hell, man. I prefer Narvaez’s plate approach, but this is a huge bummer for an already beat up pitchers and catchers list.
- Welcome to the show, Smith and Infante. Was a little worried we’d be seeing the “Fulmer probably should’ve spent more time in the minors” story part II.
- Not that anyone’s counting, but as of now Chris Sale is scheduled to start the Tuesday game when Boston’s in town. Get them tickets now (or get whatever and sit wherever day of, same thing we always do, Pinky!)