The 2010 San Diego Padres regular season began on April 5th, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jon Garland was the opening day starter even though Chris Young was considered the favorite to earn that honor. It's been speculated that this was done so that CY could start the home opener and that it's because the title is essentially meaningless on a team without a true #1 starter.
Dan Haren pitched a gem of a game for the Diamondbacks, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings, striking out 4 and walking none. Jon Garland was tagged with the loss, going 4 innings and giving up 6 runs (although only 2 of them were earned, thanks to fielding errors by both Everth Cabrera and Chase Headley). Despite back-to-back home runs by Adrian Gonzalez and Kyle Blanks in the 9th inning, the Padres fell to the Diamondbacks 6-3.
The home opener was supposed to be started by Chris Young, but shoulder tightness forced him to the disabled list and Kevin Correia made the start. The game was highlighted by a 10–run 4th inning that included a bases loaded walk to Tony Gwynn Jr., a hit by Kevin Correia, a ground rule double by Adrian Gonzalez, a 2-run double by Kyle Blanks and a 2-run home run by Will Venable. The Padres won the game 17-2 marking the highest run total by a Padres team in the Petco Park era.
The Padres lost the first 3 series of the season to the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Braves going 1-2 in each. The Diamondbacks then came to San Diego for the first weekend series of the year. The Padres won the first game on a walkoff 3 run home run by Chase Headley, then won the second game 5-0 behind another great outing by Kevin Correia and finally won the third 5-2 in another comeback highlighted him a 3 run double by Chase Headley where he ended up scoring due to a series of mistakes made by the opposition. Dick Enberg had the call of the series when he said "Touch 'em all" on Chase Headley's double. He thought that it was a home run and tried to take it back, but it was only shortly after his "mistake" that Chase was rounding third and heading for home due to a poorly thrown ball. So Dick was right, Chase did touch 'em all. This first series sweep of the season brought the Padres record to 6-6 and they back to .500 for the first time since the second game of the season.
After the exciting home sweep of the Diamondbacks, the first place San Francisco Giants came to town. The Padres had a 2-1 lead in the 9th with closer Heath Bell pitching when he gave up a game tying home run to Juan Uribe. The game went to extra innings and the scrappy David Eckstein hit a walk off solo shot to bring the Padres winning streak to 4 games. On a side note, a humorous umpiring snafu occurred during the game when Padres pitcher Clayton Richard hit a deep fly ball that landed on the warning track, but after some deliberation was ruled a home run. Then, after realizing their incompetence the umpires turned it back into a double.
The Padres would go on to win 8 straight, sweeping the Giants. And taking the first 2 games in a series at the Reds. They dropped the final game in the series against the Reds, 5-4. After the Reds series, they went into Miami for a 3-game series against the Marlins. The Padres were embarrassed in the first game of the series, losing 10-1 following a poor start by Mat Latos. The team then bounced back and took the following two games from the Marlins, including a 6-4, come-from-behind victory in the final game of the series.
They returned home after the road trip to take on the Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres took the first two games, winning 9-0 and 3-0, handing the Brewers their first back-to-back shutout games in 5 years. These two wins extended their winning streak at home to 8 games, and at the conclusion of the 3-0 win, Padres pitching had pitched 24 straight scoreless innings. They also recorded their Major League-best fifth shutout of the season. On April 30, the Padres also saw their first Hairston Bro-B-I.
They finished April with a 15-8 record, sitting atop the National League West.
The very first day of May did not bode well for the Padres as they lost the game to the Brewers by a 2-1 margin, snapping their home winning streak. The team quickly bounced back and took the final game of the series, shutting out the Brewers yet again 8-0. This is particularly noteworthy as the Brewers came to town with the hottest offense in National League, yet the Padres pitching held them to just 2 runs over the 4 game series, shutting them out in 3 of those 4 games.
The Colorado Rockies then came to town, and after splitting the first two games of the series, the two teams added to the growing history of extra-inning games by playing a 12-inning affair. Tim Stauffer gave up his first run of the season in the 12th and the Rockies took the 3-game series. The loss also put the Padres into a tie for first place with the Giants after having sole possession since April 28.
The first road trip of May saw the Padres visit the Houston Astros for a 3 game set. The first game featured perhaps the most brilliant performance yet of young Mat Latos' career as he pitched 8 innings of shutout ball while recording 9 Ks, 0 BBs and only 2 hits. Not only did he produce on the mound, but he helped his own cause by hitting 2 doubles, scoring a run and driving in a run. Ryan Webb pitched a scoreless 9th to record the Padres league-leading 7th shutout victory. After winning a close 2nd game by a 2-1 margin, a strange series of events started happening to the Padres. Kevin Correia, who was schedule to start that Sunday in Houston, got news that his brother had died in a fall off a cliff and had to leave the team on bereavement. Tim Stauffer was up to the challenge of replacing him as the starter and pitched well. He left the game after the 5th inning, with the Padres leading 3-0, and Edward Mujica came in to replace him. The Astros quickly got on the board with back-to-back HRs by Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence off of Edward Mujica. A blunder by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the bottom of the 9th resulted in the Astros scoring the tying run, which sent the game into extra innings. Houston would go on to win the game 4-3 on an RBI single by Hunter Pence in the 11th inning. Then, before the Padres left for San Francisco, Tim Stauffer used his iPhone and WebMD to self-diagnose himself with appendicitis -- later confirmed by actual doctors -- and had to have an emergency appendectomy that landed him on the disabled list.
Despite the potential distractions of an extra inning loss, a bereaved rotation regular and a key contributor hospitalized, the Padres came into San Francisco headstrong for a divisional showdown with the 2nd-place Giants. In a walkfest that featured 17 combined walks (12 by Giants pitching), 336 combined pitches thrown and 26 combined runners left on bases (15 by the Padres including 3 BFOP situations that resulted in 0 runs) the Padres eked out a 3-2 victory on the backs of their clutch pitching to increase their first place lead to 1.5 games. The second game was another Padres victory as Clayton Richard out-dueled Matt Cain 5-2 that was a rematch from April 19. The 3rd game was another rematch from April as Jonathan Sanchez and Mat Latos faced off. Sanchez held the Padres to one hit on April 20 and lost. This time it was Latos that had the most impressive pitching performance. The young Padres fireballer came one infield hit by Eli Whiteside away from a perfect game and also drove in the only run of the game. Some controversy also surrounded his start when he accidentally broke a Giants broadcaster's car windshield with a baseball that he'd attempted to toss to a fan. Nevertheless, the Padres headed back to Petco with a 3.5 game lead in the division.
The next homestand featured a surging Dodgers team and two rematch games with the Giants. The Dodgers came into town riding a 4-game winning streak, and proceeded to sweep the Padres in a weekend series that featured 3 sellout crowds and lots of visiting Dodger fans. The Padres bats were nowhere to be found in the series as the Dodgers bullpen kept them quiet in game 1, beating the Padres 4-3. Clayton Kershaw did the same in game 2, winning 4-1. Chad Billingsley capped off the series by continuing to stifle the Padres bats in game 3, winning 1-0.
The following Monday featured the 2nd rematch of the year between Matt Cain and Clayton Richard. Once again, Richard outdueled Matt Cain and the Padres won 3-1. The second and final game of the series saw a 2nd rematch between Jonathan Sanchez and Mat Latos in as many starts. The Padres got to Sanchez and took a 4-2 lead, but Mike Adams struggled in the 8th inning, giving up a 2-run homerun, and the Giants forced a tie that lasted into extra innings. Relievers Edward Mujica and Joe Thatcher provided yeoman's work in extra innings, but both also suffered injuries. The Giants broke out for 3 runs off of Cesar Ramos in the 12th inning and while the Padres bats woke up in the bottom of the inning the two runs they mustered were not enough to stop the Giants from winning 7-6.
After the extra-innings loss, the Padres headed up to Chavez Ravine to face the Dodgers for quick 2-game set. The Padres quickly fell behind 3-1, but the Padres offense, led by Adrian Gonzalez (who had a career-high 6 RBIs on the night), exploded for 9 more runs to beat the Dodgers 10-5. The next, and final game of the series, saw Clayton Kershaw stifle the Padres bats again, and the Dodgers won 4-1.
The Padres continued their trip up the coast and began interleague play in Seattle. Interleague has not been historically kind to the Padres, and the first game was no exception. The Mariners quickly jumped out to an 8-2 lead, and they ultimately trounced the Padres 15-8. San Diego got the last laugh though, as they won the next two games 2-1 and 8-1, respectively.
Just as quickly as it started, interleague was done, for now. The Padres came back home for a 12-game homestand where they faced the Cardinals, Nationals and Mets. Many Padres fans were dreading the Cardinals series, as historically St. Louis has owned the Padres (the Padres had lost 11 of the last 13 games against the Cardinals). Thankfully, however, this team is much better and the Padres kept Albert Pujols mostly quiet and won the series 2-games-to-1.
The Nationals then came to town for a 3-game series, which got off to a very interesting start. Padres manager Bud Black handed his lineup card to the home plate umpire before the game started. Buddy had listed Adam Russell as the starting pitcher for the game on the card, even though Clayton Richard had been slated to start in his normal rotation spot. Problem was, Adam Russell had just been optioned to Triple-A Portland earlier that day, so he was over 1,000 miles away by the time the game started. After the first inning, the two managers and the umpire held a brief conference after which the umpire decided to allow Richard to continue pitching. The Nationals would then play the game under protest. This proved to be a moot point, as the Nationals won the game in a rather frustrating manner for Padres fans. San Diego was down 5-2 going into the bottom of the 9th. The Padres loaded the bases with nobody out, and managed to only plate one run before the game ended, losing 5-3. In keeping with their latest trend, the Padres would go on to win the next two games of the series to win the series, 2-1.
After the Padres sent the Nationals packing, it was the Mets turn to face the NL's best team. On the last day of May, the Mets and Padres played a game few Padres fans are going to forget for a while. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the 2nd inning, the Padres loaded the bases with no one out. After Luis Durango fouled out and Kevin Correia struck out, many Padres fans were worried we were going to see a repeat of the Nationals series when the Padres would squander BFOP opportunities. That's when Jerry Hairston, Jr. stepped up to the plate and crushed a Grand Slam into the second tank of the Western Metal Supply Co building, giving the Padres a 4-1 lead. They would add on two more on a Nick Hundley double to make it 6-1. Padres fans started to get nervous when the Mets came back to make it 6-4, but the Padres responded by adding 4 more to make it 10-4. The Padres would go on to win the game 18-6, setting a new record for runs scored at PETCO Park, and tied the record for number of hits.
Once again, the Padres finished the month leading the National League West.
The Padres opened June with a loss to the Mets where Mike Pelfrey baffled the Padres for 8 innings, but followed that up by taking the series with walk off grand slam by Adrian Gonzalez in the 11th inning. It was a good send off before a 7 game east coast road trip.
The road trip began with a 4 games series in Philadelphia. The first game featured Padres phenom Mat Latos and the Phillies' ace Roy Halladay fresh off of a perfect game. The game was close, but unfortunately Jayson Werth (who seemingly is trying to go for the street bum look) drove in the winning run with a based loaded walk in the fifth. The next game was a quick loss (the game was only 2:02 long) at the hands of the ancient Jamie Moyer. The Padres then took the next two games as the Padres squeaked by in extra innings in one and Wade LeBlanc outdueled local product Cole Hamels in the other. The rest of the road was in New York where the Padres staged a rematch with the Mets. The Mets were up to the challenge as they defeated the Padres 2-1 in extra innings as the Padres flailed at Mike Pelfrey's offerings for the second time this month. The next game got rained out and the two teams were forced to play a doubleheader. This would give Mat Latos an extra day of rest between starts, but it also meant that they Padres didn't have anyone who could start on regular rest the next Monday. The teams split the doubleheader with Mat Latos' efforts overcoming those of Johan Santana in the day game, and the Mets' Jon Niese one-hitting the Padres in the nightcap. The Padres would return home 3-4 on the road trip and 5-5 in the month of June.
Interleague play resumed as the Padres were set to face the hated Seattle Mariners, the foreign Toronto Blue Jays and the hapless Baltimore Orioles. The Padres would go 5-4 on the homestand taking series' 2-1 from the Mariners and the Orioles and losing 2 out of three to the Blue Jays. Taking the series against the hated Mariners meant that the Padres had taken the season series against their natural rivals. The last time the Padres did that was in 2004. The highlight of the homestand came in the first game against the Orioles when the Padres trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Padres loaded the bases with no outs. After a Nick Hundley pinch hit strikeout David Eckstein singled to tie the game. Tony Gwynn pinch hit for Chris Denorfia, but ground into a 3-2 force out. So, with bases loaded and two outs Adrian Gonzalez had to be the hero. He singled on the first pitch to drive in Aaron Cunningham and win the game. Aaron Cunningham also had a key part in the homestand. He was called up to replace Matt Stairs who needed to go on the DL. Bud Black only would start him against left handers so Padres fans had to wait to see him in action. In the second game of the Blue Jays series he hit a grand slam in his first at bat which helped the Padres get their only win against the Canadian franchise. Next, the Padres head to Florida to see if they can clinch their first winning record against the American League since 1999 against the Tampa Bay Rays and to stage a South Florida rematch with the Florida Marlins.
The Padres returned home from the sweltering Florida heat to play a 7 game homestand vs. the surging Colorado Rockies and the woeful Houston Astros that would take them through the end of June and into July. The first two games vs. the Rockies were tense affairs with the Padres coming out on the losing end of both. The first featured Ubaldo Jimenez no hitting the Padres 5 innings and the Rockies jumping all over Kevin Correia and Sean Gallagher for 8 runs. The Padres got feisty in the 6th when they rallied back to make it 8-4 and also tacked on 2 more in the 7th. Unfortunately, Edward Mujica gave up a home run to the first batter he face in the ninth (an all-too-predictable outcome for the long-ball-prone reliever) as well another run. That deficit proved too much for the Padres. The next game saw the Padres offense sputter again in the early innings, but Wade LeBlanc pitched well for the first 6 innings. In the 7th he got in trouble and Bud Black once again turned to Edward Mujica. Painfully, the home run problems were still present and a Clint Barmes dinger helped the Rockies go up 4-0. The Padres would ralling in that same 7th inning to get within a run, but couldn't muster up enough to win the game in later innings. In the series finale the Padres hitters went off on the shell of Jeff Francis and a struggling Franklyn Morales in a game where regulars Adrian Gonzalez, David Eckstein, Will Venable and Tony Gwynn Jr. were not starting. Clayton Richard also struck out ten Rockies in the Padres 13-3 victory. This midweek series also featured the highest midweek attendance figures since the home opening series. Padres fans were starting to support the team by coming to the ballpark.
The start of July continued the home stand that started in June with yet another 1-2 series loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The second leg of this homestand was a 4-game, 4th of July weekend series with the offensively-challenged Houston Astros. At the start of this series Aaron Cunningham was sent down to AAA to make room for Matt Stairs' return from the DL. Additionally, Sean Gallagher was designated for assignment in order to make way for Tim Stauffer to return from injury as well. The Padres lost the first game of the series when Jon Garland had control issues that led to 3 Astros runs and Luke Gregerson couldn't protect a 3-3 tie in extra innings. Sadly, this was the beginning of some struggles for the Padres 7th inning set-up man. The Padres bounced back, and the next three games were a much better showing. The Padres offense didn't produce much against the Astros starting pitching, but the Astros bats produced even less against the Padres pitching. The Friday game was a combined shutout by Mat Latos and Heath Bell where the Padres scored their only 3 runs in the 8th. The Saturday game, a near sellout for a beach towel giveaway, was another combined shutout this time by Kevin Correia, Mike Adams and Heath Bell where the Padres scored one run in the 8th inning. The series finale on July 4th was probably the most dramatic. Wade LeBlanc hiccuped in the first and gave up a run, but Aaron Cunningham had a 2 RBI single in the 4th to give the Padres a lead. Cunningham had just been recalled from AAA after Will Venable's sore back landed him on the DL. A Lance Berkman RBI triple in the 8th inning off of normally-reliable Mike Adams tied the game at 2 apiece. The resilient Padres were not about to lose this one though and in the 9th inning, a bases loaded single by Tony Gwynn Jr. ended the game in walk-off fashion. The Astros may not have been the most formidable of foes, but a 3-1 series win looked pretty nice after some of the painful losses earlier in the homestand.
After that up and down homestand the Padres took to the road for 6 games before the All Star Break. The first 3 were in Washington to face the Nationals in a series many had hoped would feature SDSU standout and newly-minted MLB phenom Stephen Strasburg. This was not to be the case. In fact, pitching was a bit of a side note in this series as home runs ruled the day. The Padres fought back in the 8th inning of the first game to overcome a 5-2 deficit, but Ryan Zimmerman walked-off the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth with his second home run on the day. Luke Gregerson gave up that walk-off shot, and worries about his struggles started to mount. The second game was the Adam Dunn show. He hit 3 home runs in the game including the backbreaking 8th inning home run off of Joe Thatcher that proved to be the difference in a 7-6 Padres loss. The Padres hit 4 home runs in this game and Matt Stairs' 9th inning contribution tied him for 1st all time in pinch-hit home runs with 20. The Padres were able to salvage this series in the third and final game on the back of All Star snub Mat Latos' 10th win of the season and first career home run. Three other Padres went deep in this 7-1 rout to conclude the series, which saw 14 home runs hit between the two teams.
The final series before the All Star break had the Padres flying into Denver to face the still-sizzling Colorado Rockies with only a 3 game lead on their division rivals. The series had a bit of a playoff atmosphere attached to it, and fans on both sides knew this was an important series. Should the Rockies sweep the Padres, the Rockies and Padres would head into the All Star Break, sharing first place in the NL West. The Padres were looking for their first series win against Colorado this season.
The Padres thought they caught a mini-break when Ubaldo Jimenez's scheduled start was scratched so that he could pitch in the All Star game. The Padres got Jorge De La Rosa instead for the opening game who, back on April 9th, dismantled the Padres before spending some extended time on the disabled list. In his first start back from the DL, De La Rosa was far from stellar, but the same could be said for Kevin Correia that day. This game was a Coors Field classic, where the Padres took a 3-0 lead, then went down 5-3, came back to take an 8-5 lead, but only to see Ryan Webb and Luke Gregerson combine to give up 5 runs in the 7th to cement the final score at 10-8. This shrunk the divisional lead down to 2 games.
The second game was a pitching rematch from June 29th with Wade LeBlanc facing Jason Hammel hoping to avenge the earlier loss at Petco Park. Unfortunately, Wade LeBlanc's stuff was not good enough to defeat the mile air air as 3 Rockies big flies helped them to a 4-2 lead. Back at Gaslamp Ball things got testy as the worried masses got real bitchy. Dex had to ban everyone (supposedly) and then lift the ban later in the game. Dex also went on to bitch about all the bitches who he wanted to ban in the postgame wrap-up. With the divisional lead down to 1 game with 1 game remaining before the All Star break, tensions were quite high. Struggles from the pitching staff were not what the Padres needed and losing games to a foe that not too many years ago broke many a Padres fans' hearts didn't help.
This next game seemed crucial. Lose and there would a first place tie going into the All Star break. Win and the Padres would have a 2 game lead. The pitching matchup was another rematch from that late June series finale at Petco Park. Clayton Richard would take the mound for the Padres and potential Padres punching bag Jeff Francis toed the slab for the opposite side. While a tension-filled near stalemate took place in South Africa in Soccer's World Cup, the Padres and Rockies played an all-together different game where many runs were scored and the game went back and forth. The Padres built a 3-0 lead as Aaron Cunningham and the brothers Hairston teamed up in various fashions. Clayton Richard had also thrown 3 innings of no hit ball going into the bottom of the 4th, but that was all about to change. A triple by Rockies replacement hero Jonathan Herrera drove in one run and later he scored on a Carlos Gonzalez single. The Rockies took a 6-3 lead an inning later as Clayton Richard was chased from the game and Luke Gregerson came in only to give up the 6th run on a hit by Rockies reliever Jhoulys Chacin who was batting for himself. The strong-willed Padres would fight back, scoring two runs in each of the next 3 innings. The 7th was highlighted by a 2 run double by Chase Headley. The 8th took advantage of a bases load errant throw by Matt Belisle. The 9th gave the Padres all the insurance they needed when Everth Cabrera hit a Coors Field-aided pop up to right field that cleared the fence for a 2-run home run. The only sad news from this game was that Mike Adams had to be removed after injuring his side in the 8th inning. Heath Bell manned up to take on [[Mike Adams|Adams]' set up duties as well as his own 9th inning responsibilities to rope in the win, but the injured set up man looked headed for the DL and some post-All Star break bullpen reshuffling would be needed.
The Padres preserved their sole possession of first place in the NL West and could happily reflect on that lead for the entire All Star break. Some other things to reflect on were Cunningham's recent hitting tear, speculation about Mat Latos going to the DL and/or missing starts post-All Star Break, will the Padres pitching staff hold up and who they might acquire in trade before the July 31 trading deadline. There is also some attention to be paid to the All Star Game in Anaheim where Padres All Stars Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell attempt to secure home field advantage in the World Series for the National League.
The Padres got a nice cushy start coming out of the gates following the All Star Game. They were facing the terrible Arizona Diamondbacks at home in Petco Park. The Padres had to make a couple of moves as Mike Adams went to the DL and Ernest Frieri came up. Mat Latos also went to the DL after a held-in-sneeze tweaked something, but with all the recent and upcoming off days they didn't need a 5th starter and called up Luis Durango. The first game was an opening day rematch between Jon Garland and Dan Haren. The DBacks didn't stand a chance and lost 12-1. In the second game, Clayton Richard continued his struggles, but the Padres bats pounded the woeful ex-Padre Rodrigo Lopez. The final game was interesting not only for a Padres victory that saw Kevin Correia tie a career high with 9 Ks and Chris Denorfia blast 2 home runs in a game for the first time in his major league career, but for a dust up between Everth Cabrera and Mark Reynolds. After hitting a go-ahead triple in the 6th inning Everth Cabrera was picked off of 3rd base. As he slid into the bag his spikes came in a little high and there was a lot of contact on the tag out. Mark Reynolds came out of this collision hot and made his feeling known to Everth who backed off not wanting a fight to break out. The benches cleared and while the tensions weren't extremely high the whole incident was enough for the umpiring crew to eject Cabrera for aggressive baserunning, but not enough to eject Mark Reynolds for excessive douchebagery. Mark Reynolds was booed loudly in his later at bat. Dex's interpretations on the event are a little different that what is described here.  Nevertheless it was a series sweep and everyone was quickly forgetting the angst of that pre-All Star Break series with the Colorado Rockies. Following the series the Padres organization cleared up some things about the Padres future when they extended Bud Black's contract through 2013.
The Padres took to the road to face the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Padres has some trouble with the Braves in their home opening series and at the start of this series the Braves led the NL in winning percentage. This would be quite a challenge for the Padres. The series start off with a bang off the field as Fox Sports write John Morosi fired a shot at the Padres. His story basically concluded that this series would mark the moment the Padres started to fade and where the Braves solidified their bid for contention. Gaslamp Ballers spent valuable internet time picking apart all the ridiculous logic that Morosi used to the point where almost all were convinced that he was an ignorant ass. This spurred a campaign against him on twitter where every future Padres victory would spark a massive amount of tweets at him telling him how wrong and stupid he was. Good times. Anyway, on the field the Padres actually didn't do much to prove Morosi wrong against the Braves. In the first game Jair Jurrjens, who in the Padres home opener was atrocious, held the Padres to a single run and the Braves bullpen shut the door. The lone highlight was Chris Denorfia continuing his power surge when he homered in the only run. In game 2 the Padres evened up the series. After starter John Garland gave up 4 runs early, the bullpen came on in the 6th inning and completely shut down the Braves as 6 relievers combined for 7 shut out innings. In this game the Padres had to rally for 2 runs in the 9th off of Billy Wagner to tie the game at 4-4. In the 12th Nick Hundley's pinch hit 2 run double gave the Padres lead for good. The final game would not go the Padres way, however. Another Braves starter, this time Tim Hudson cooled the Padres bats as him and two relievers combined on an 8-0 shutout. The Padres still maintained a 3 game lead on the NL West, but losing two games like that and having to scrap to get a solitary win to a potential playoff opponent did not sit very well. Something may be needed to give this team a boost. Fortunately for the Padres one type of boost the major league schedule provides is a trip to Pittsburgh to face their home team. In the first game, the Padres took a 4-0 lead in the 2nd inning and never looked back. The Padres won 5-3 as every batter in the starting lineup reached base at least once. The second game featured the return of Mat Latos from the sneeze DL (Luis Durango was sent back to Portland). The game was tight early as two Pirates home runs gave them a 2-1 lead going into the sixth. The Padres would scrap together 3 runs that inning and then tack on 5 more in the 8th to win 9-2. The Padres would go on to complete the sweep in game 3 as Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Denorfia helped them power their way to a 6-3 win. The sweep had San Diego buzzing as the team came home to face the Dodgers for the first time since mid-May, but the trouble was still brewing as the Giants had one their last 4 games to keep them just 3 games back.
The Padres-Dodgers tilt would begin on a Tuesday in Petco and that helped provide one bit of fortunate news. The Giants played that Monday and lost, so the division lead was up to 3.5 games. John Garland and Chad Billingsley faced on in game 1. Garland pitched well enough to win, giving up only 2 in 6 2/3, and the bullpen continued to stymie opponents, but Billingsley was better as he shut out the Padres for 6 innings and Hong Chi Kuo and Jonathan Broxton finished the home town team off. A key moment in this game was when the Dodgers got two 2 out singles in the 7th and the Padres intentionally walked Russell Martin to pitch to Billingsley. Joe Torre countered by pinch hitting with an ill Andre Ethier. With Joe Thatcher available to pitch to the lefty, Bud Black instead decides to leave Garland in. Later, he would say that he thought is was John's game and was giving him a chance to win it. That decision proved costly as a Andre Ethier came through for the L.A. team and drove in the Dodgers only 2 runs on a single to CF. In the second game the Padres righted the ship as Clayton Richard pitched a 6 inning gem, the bullpen provided their usual shutout innings, the offense knocked around the Dodgers pitching for a half dozen runs and the first place club came away with a 6-1 win to even the series. The final game would be played on a Throwback Thursday. MLB Network picked up the game, which allowed the hometown fans to see a televised Throwback Thursday for the first time. The Dodgers sent to the mound Vicente Padilla as his super slow curve and the Padres countered with their young stud Mat Latos. The game started off on the right foot as the Padres scored a run in the first inning on a Chase Headley single. Headley had been heating up in July, especially against right hand pitching, and would finish the month with a .300/.382/.489 line. The Dodgers tied it up the next inning as James Loney's hit one that left the yard. In the 4th, Yorvit Torrealba, who would sport a .417/.500/.542 line for July, doubled in Chase Headley who had walked to lead off the inning. The Dodgers would again come right back to tie the game as a Scott Hairston error in LF led to a run that leveled the scored at 2 a piece. The Padres would prevail in the bottom of the ninth to win the game in walk-off fashion. Scott Hairston lead the charge with a lead off single off of lefty George Sherrill. Tony Gwynn moved him to second on a ground ball to the pitcher. With the light hitting Everth Cabrera due to bat Bud Black went to his bench and picked Oscar Salazar to pinch hit. Just like in the first game, the pinch hitter hit a ground ball between the second baseman and shortstop to drive in the go ahead run. This time, however, the Padres came out on top. Talk was beginning that the Dodgers were fading out of this divisional race while the Padres kept their 3.5 game leadover the Giants and a nice 7 game cushion over the Dodgers.
The final opponents for the month of July featured the Marlins coming to San Diego for the first time this season. A quirk of the schedule had the Padres visiting the Marlins twice already, when normally you'd only have home-and-home series' with non-divisional opponents. With the trading deadline approaching, players were starting to change teams. The previous series against the Dodgers had them playing a newly acquired OF Scott Podsednik and the Marlins would be without Jorge Cantu who had been traded to the Texas Rangers. Also, the cellar dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks sold off Dan Haren to the Angels for veteran Joe Saunders and prospects. The Padres had made a move of their own dealing minor league prospect P Wynn Pelzer to the Orioles in exchange for Miguel Tejada. Tejada had spent the entire season with Baltimore Orioles playing 3B since his skills at SS were diminishing. However, the Padres had Chase Headley manning the hot corner and didn't plan to use Tejada there. Their plan was to play him at SS and send Everth Cabrera to the bench. With David Eckstein still on the DL, Jerry Hairston Jr. could still occupy 2B for the time being, but it was assumed that some platooning would take place once the scrappy one got healthy. Tejada was in the starting lineup for the first game of the series and would bat cleanup behind Adrian Gonzalez. Aaron Cunninghma was sent down to Portland to make room. Sadly, all that Tejada could produce in that first game amidst healthy cheers from the Padres faithful was a single walk. Wade LeBlanc would give up all 4 runs for the Marlins, while their starter Chris Volstad gave up only 2. The long ball was part of the problem for Wade as it had been for a while. The Marlins starter only went 5 innings, which meant the Padres would face 4 innings of relief from the Fish. Recent history dictated that this would go well for the Padres bats, but they went ice cold and the game was lost 4-2. The second game, and final game in July, did not go well either. Kevin Correia let the scoring get started when he gave up a tape measure 2-run shot to rookie Mike Stanton in the 2nd inning and a solo blast to Dan Uggla in the 6th. Scott Hairston tried to chip in by hammering his own solo shot, but in the next inning made two errors on a single play that gave the Marlins two more runs. Two ninth inning runs for the Fish gave them a 6-1 lead, they still had their starter Ricky Nolasco going in the bottom of that inning. The Padres tried to take advantage of the tired hurler when Adrian Gonzalez singled in Jerry Hairston Jr. and Chase Headley, but the Marlins closer Leo Nunez would come in to stop the bleeding and give the Padres a 6-3 loss.
July would come to a close with the Padres on a two game losing streak and the Giants on a two game winning streak. The NL West lead was down to 1.5 games. Again, it looked like the Padres need a boost and fans waited on pins and needles to see what the July 31 trading deadline would bring. The Padres did not disappoint as news of a deal came in before the final July game. GM Jed Hoyer had bartered a three way deal featuring the Cardinals and Indians that netted the club slugging RF Ryan Ludwick. The cost was just two prospects (San Antonio P Corey Kluber and Ft. Wayne P Nick Greenwood) and the knowledge that another team in the playoff race had bolstered their starting staff as the Cardinals acquired P Jake Westbrook in the deal. Almost unanimously fans and analysts applauded the young GM for this ingenious move. Even the hated Jon Morosi gave praises to the Padres brass. This deal supplied the Padres with an every day RF that could bat in the middle of the lineup and created a pretty decent LF platoon in Will Venable and Scott Hairston. The month of July continued to provide the team and its fans a rollercoaster ride, and the only advice any wise sage could possibly give for August was, "Fasten you seatbelts."
August began with roster move to accommodate the newly acquired Ryan Ludwick. There was a lot of speculation as to what would happen. Would Everth Cabrera be optioned to Portland? Would they release Matt Stairs? Would they option a pitcher like Ryan Webb or Ernesto Frieri to make room? As it turns out Oscar Salazar had been playing through a sore achilles and could go to the DL to make room. Ryan Ludwick would join the team for the final game of a home series with the Marlins that had seen the Padres lose two in a row to the Fish. Bud Black initially hinted that Luwdick would bat cleanup that Sunday, but when the lineups were announced the new slugger was on the bench. Buddy would later say that he was trying to ease the new player's transition to a new team. The matchup for the game featured the current Cy Young Award favorite for the Marlins Josh Johnson and the Padres veteran starter John Garland. In both of the previous matchups with Johnson the Padres struggled to find hits, but were victories in one of the two games. The Padres first got to Johnson in the opening frame. A double by the red hot Yorvit Torrealba drove in Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Tejada. The Marlins quickly countered with a run of their own in the 2nd and then leveled the game with a Hanley Ramirez solo home run in the 3rd. The pitchers then dueled it out until the 6th when a Wes Helms single with runners on first and third gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead. It seemed that the Padres might lose again. After struggling early, Johnson had settled and was back to his Cy Young caliber ways. Or so it seemed. Yorvit Torrealba led off and stayed hot by singling to RF. Then, Will Venable worked a walk. Scott Hairston tried to bunt the runners over, but popped up instead. Tony Gwynn Jr. was due up and the Padres needed a walk or a hit to keep this rally going. Gwynn had already failed earlier in the game to get a runner home when he grounded into a fielder's choice with Venable on third base. So, Bud Black went to the bench and called Ryan Ludwick's number. Much of the crowd stood and applauded their potential hero. Ryan Ludwick had only faced Johnson in one other game and was 0-4 with 3 strikeouts against him. He went down 0-2 in the count quickly and things seemed grim. But, the next pitch was hit for a hard grounder to the left side that found a hole and the bases were loaded for the pitcher's spot. Chris Denorfia was summoned to take the at bat. With a runner now on 3rd with one out a sac fly was a potential game tier and that's exactly what Denorfia. The Padres had tied the game a 3 all and maybe Jerry Hairston Jr. could come through with a clutch hit to get a lead. With a 2-1 count the elder Hairston drove the ball to LF. Rookie Logan Morrison drifted back trying to track it down, but couldn't. Will Venable came around to score easily, but Ryan Ludwick would have to test the Marlins relay throw to give the Padres a two run cushion. The throw came in on time, there was a play at the plate and Ludwick deftly slid around the tag to make the score 5-3. Ernesto Frieri and Luke Gregerson held that score for two innings and Heath Bell gave up only a solitary run in the ninth to send the Padres to victory. They'd salvaged one game of the series, prevented what would have been only their second 3 game losing streak and began August with a winning record.
After a weekend of exciting finishes and deadline deals the Padres need to ride up the 5 to L.A. for a 4 game series with the Dodgers. The Dodgers had made some more deadline deals and would now be armed with Ryan Theriot, Octavio Dotel and Ted Lilly for this series. The Padres currently held a 9 game lead on the Dodgers, but the Dodgers were supposedly focused on using this series to get back in the race. Clayton Richard had a tough outing in the first game, but the Padres hammered Hiroki Kuroda and Jeff Weaver to pull of a 10-5 win. The allegedly determined Dodgers showed their true colors in the first inning when Matt Kemp non-nonchalantly headed for home on a single by Casey Blake. Chris Denorfia made a throw to third to get James Loney headed to the bag and the out was made before lagging Kemp could score. It was enough to make one wonder if the Dodgers were really in it to win it. The next game was all about new Dodgers acquisition Ted Lilly. His only blemish on the day was a 1st inning solo home run to Miguel Tejada, but that was wiped out by a 2 run Russell Martin double in the 2nd. The Padres lost 2-1. The third game could mainly be associated with 3 players. The first is Vicente Padilla whose slow curve that Vin Scully dubbed the "Soap Bubble" kept the Padres bats from ever making any noise. The other two important players were Padres OFs Tony Gwynn Jr. and Chris Denorfia. Tony Gwynn Jr. sat out the game due to a stiff neck caused by bad hotel pillows. A lame, but true, excuse. Chris Denorfia filled in for the disabled CF and had a number of balls drop in that probably should have been caught. He also did nothing at the plate. The CF talk dominated post game discussions, but all was deemed better in the world when Tony Gwynn Jr. was declared fit to play in the final game and was put in the lineup. The situation for the final game was reminiscent of the August 1 game with the Marlins. The Padres had lost two in a row and the Dodgers put one of NL's best on the mound in Chad Billingsley. The Padres starter was Kevin Correia who was not lighting the world on fire in his recent starts. However, just like that August 1 game the play was dictated on the field instead of on paper and Kevin Correia, Ernesto Frieri, Luke Gregerson and Heath Bell blanked the Dodgers. The Padres scoring started in the 4th with 3 runs, but the most talked about runs came in the 9th when Chris Denorfia hit a pinch hit 2 run inside-the-park home run on a ground ball that bounced only a few feet away from home plate and was subsequently misplayed by the 3B and the LF. It was a sight that many a baseball fan had never seen and may never see again. The Padres would continue their road trip against the bottom-feeding Arizona Diamondbacks. Most anticipated a chance for the Padres to pick up some wins and build their lead on the NL West, but they ended up only winning one of the three games. Daniel Hudson, acquired in a trade of Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox, pitched well in the opener and held the Padres to a single run through 7 and 2/3. Amazingly, the Diamondbacks bullpen held the Padres scoreless the rest of the way. In game 2 Clayton Richard was chased from the game after 3 and 2/3 as the Diamondbacks built a 5-0 lead. The Padres would rally to get 3 runs in the 6th and tie the game in the 9th using a pair of clutch solo home runs by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Adrian Gonzalez to do so. However, Chris B. Young, who had homered to lead off the game, homered again in the bottom of the ninth give the Padres a walk-off loss. The Padres picked up a win in the final game by hammering Joe Saunders and two Diamondbacks relievers for 10 runs. Mat Latos pitched 6 shutout innings in the victory that capped off the road trip.
The next homestand would the shortest one of the season. The schedule makers, in their infinite wisdom, put a 3 game homestand with the Pirates in between a 7 game road trip and a 10 game road trip. This wouldn't phase the Padres as they swept the series winning each game by exactly 3 runs and striking out Pirates hitters left and right. Back to the road, where the Padres would embark on their longest road trip of the season.
Controversy surround the first game of the series with the San Francisco Giants. Giants southpaw hurler Jonathan Sanchez predicted that his team would sweep the series and never look back. Sanchez would pitch the first game of the series, but could not back up his words. The Padres took the first game of the series 3-2 with Clayton Richard notching his 10th win of the series. The second game was the Padres season debut on Fox Saturday baseball. Mat Latos would start the game and pitch brilliantly. He had staked his club to a 2-1 lead when he exited after 6 innings, but the Giants would tie the game off of Luke Gregerson and eventually win in extra innings. The third game was a Friar victory all the way as the team chased defending two time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum after 3 innings and hit their way to a 8-2 victory before skipping town. The next road stop was Chicago for 4 games. The Cubs were going through some tough times when the Padres got there after trading away several players at the deadline. They were also about to trade their first basemen, Derrek Lee, and announce that their manager, Lou Piniella would retire before the season ended. The Padres swept the series with ease and moved on to Milwaukee. The Brewers greeted the Padres with sellout crowds and sweltering temperatures. The first two games featured poor outings by Wade LeBlanc and Kevin Correia as both gave up plenty of runs on route to two defeats. In the second game a record was set when Matt Stairs hit a pinch home run to break a tie with Cliff Johnson for the most pinch hit home runs in major league history. Even though the Padres lost the first two games, their bats were alive in both and that would carry over to the 3rd game. John Garland kept Milwaukee from mashing as much as they had earlier and the Padres salvaged a 7-3 win in the series. The road trip was over. The Padres had gone 7-3 on it and had increased their division lead to 6 games. Things were going well.
The Padres returned home to face the bottom dwellers of the NL West, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Clayton Richard and the bullpen got stingy and shut out the Diamondbacks 5-0 in game 1. Game 2 was another victory, 9-3, and the Padres lead in the NL West grew again to 6.5 games. Things were still looking good.
September is a time for callups since the rules allow 40 men to play on the big league team the rest of the way instead of the normal 25. The Padres at various points called up Cory Luebke, Luis Durango, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, Ryan Webb, Chris Stewart and Mike Baxter as well as activating from the disabled list Oscar Salazar, Tony Gwynn Jr, Jerry Hairston Jr and Chris Young.
The Padres found a win when they hosted the Dodgers at Petco Park. They also found two more to sweep the series. The first win came when Tim Stauffer, fresh off picking up a loss in the previous nights game, made a spot start for an ill Mat Latos. Stauffer only made it 4 innings, but it was enough to set up a Padres victory. Mat Latos returned the next night to pick up a Win and tally 10 K's along the way. Rookie starter Cory Luebke made his second start and picked up his first win in the series finale. Cory Luebke and Tim Stauffer effectively displaced both Kevin Correia and Wade LeBlanc at this point.
Disappointment loomed as the San Francisco Giants came into town just one game back in the standings. The Giants rotation had been pitching lights out at this point in the season and that continued for this series as the Padres managed on 6 runs in 4 games losing 3 out of 4. Their lone win was a 1-0 victory (the night after a 1-0 loss) with Yorvit Torrealba's solo shot providing the sole run. The Sunday finale should have been an epic one with Tim Lincecum facing Mat Latos, but a Buster Posey two run blast took the crowd out early and 4 more runs tacked on later secured a Giants victory. The Padres and Giants were now tied for the division lead.
Next up for the Padres was a 10 game road trip that only including one day off (not even a travel day to get from San Diego to Denver to start the trip). The Colorado air helped awaken the Padres bats for 3 games as they scored 19 runs in the series. The Rockies bats were equally alive and put up 19 as well, but the Padres came out ahead winning 2 out of 3. Troy Tulowitzki was a force to be reckoned with in September and he hit 3 HRs in the series including 2 in the final game that propelled the Rockies to victory.
St. Louis is a horrible place that no one from San Diego has wanted to play good baseball for years upon years. This was no different in 2010 as the Cardinals whooped the Padres and took 3 of 4. The low point of the series being a 14-4 beatdown with Mat Latos as the starting pitcher for the Padres that day. Things got better when the Padres got to LA. Clayton Richard ended a string of bad starts by pitching a complete game shutout. Tim Stuaffer pitched very well the next day and the Padres took that game on the back of Miguel Tejada's two run blast. The win pulled the Padres ahead of the Giants by 1/2 a game, but the lead would be short-lived since the Padres dropped the final game of the road trip while the Giants won their game. So, the Padres would going into their final homestand 1/2 game behind San Francisco.
The first series of the final homestand featured a matchup with the playoff-bound Cincinnati Reds and started with two pretty epic games.
The Friday opener held an Oktoberfest event at the Park at the Park that had live music and an assortment of beer options to purchase. The game also was billed as Star Wars Night and costumed performers walked around the stadium and provided other entertainment throughout the game. The game itself was pretty special as well. The Padres went down 1-0 early, then went up 2-1 and then fell beind 3-2. However, in the bottom of the 9th with the crowd cheering about as loud as it had cheered the entire season, Miguel Tejada came through with a 2 run single through the 5.5 hole to give the Padres 4-3 for the PENitentiary to hold. After the hit the Reds brought in rookie phenom Aroldis Chapman to add the spectacle. The Cuban defector mowed down Adrian Gonzalez to end the 7th and then came back for the 8th. He threw 25 pitches total, none less than 100 MPH, and hit 105 MPH multiple times. It was quite a site to behold. Nevertheless, the great Padres bullpen shut out the Reds to secure the victory and keep the Padres 1/2 game back of the Giants.
The second game is one that referred to on Gaslamp Ball as Chinese Heritage Day. It was the day Drama would make an appearance in San Diego and all Gaslamp Ballers attending the game were asked to meet up at the Tony Gwynn Statue in the 3rd inning. The Padres were already up 2-1 by the 3rd and as the fans assembled at the statue Will Venable added on by hitting a solo home run. The lead certainly helped the mood of the meetup which included, but was not limited to: Drama, Dex, jbox, Wonko, eastbaysd, justdave, theodore donald kerabatsos, Axion and scout1222. Awkward times were had by all. The Reds would tie up the game in the 5th inning and each team put up zeroes until the 9th. The Reds turned again to their rookie southpaw Aroldis Chapman to hold the Padres off. Chapman's stuff didn't look as sharp as the night before and a walk to Chase Headley signaled such. Still, he got two outs before facing Chris Denorfia. An aggressive Denorfia swing at the first pitch and pulled it to the third base side. 3B Scott Rolen and his many gold gloves whiffed on the backhand and the ball went into left field down the line. Chase Headley gave his all to get around the bases and when the play at the plate came and the dust settled he was safe at home. Walkoff, baby. Padres win. The Giants would lose to Rockies later that night to fault the Padres back to first place.
The rest of the homestand didn't go so well. The Reds put a licking on Clayton Richard and the Padres on Sunday winning 12-2. The Cubs would avenge getting swept at Wrigley Field by take 3 of 4 against San Diego. The lone win was a 3-0 shutout started by Chris Young, once of the better comeback stories of the year, and finished by the lauded PENitentiary and a surprise visit from the San Diego Chicken. The homestand was over, September was over and the Padres stood 3 back of the Giants with 3 games to play and would go to San Francisco for 3 games to end the regular season.
It was gut check, must win time in October. The mission was to win 3 straight games to finish the season. The first game pitted Clayton Richard vs the Giants' Matt Cain. The long ball would be the Padres' friend that day. Ryan Ludwick led off the 2nd inning with a home run. In the 3rd Adrian Gonzalez would contribute with a 3 run bomb. The next inning Matt Stairs led it off with a dinger. The Padres would add another in the 5th before the Giants could even get on the scoreboard. The Padres would hang on to win 6-4. Hope was still alive.
In game 2, the Padres sent Tim Stauffer to the mound to face Barry Zito. Zito didn't even last as long as Matt Cain did the day before. The Padres put up two in the first with back to back bases loaded walks. An error led to a run in the 3rd and a Miguel Tejada RBI single in the 4th tacked on another. Again, the Padres would hang on to their early lead for victory as they won 4-2. Two down, one to go. And team ace Mat Latos would get the call for game 3.
Latos would face the pitcher who no hit the Padres over a year prior: Jonathan Sanchez. Unfortunately, things would not go the Padres way. They failed to score a single run. Sanchez wasn't dominate, he walked 5 batters and only lasted 5 innings, but the bats just never got it together that day. Mat Latos was not at his sharpest, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits, but his performance hardly mattered with not a single run getting plated by the offense.