Saturday, September 24, 2011

Game Reflections - #157 vs Dodgers

Yeah a little behind on the GM series.  We'll get back to that.  Tonight I sat through a 2 hour 43 minute 2-0 game.  There should be a law against games in which 8 runners are stranded and 2 runs scored cannot last more than 2 hours 15 minutes.

Anyway, some random thoughts.

- Why in the world did Anthony Rizzo not start this game?  Rizzo has actually had the most success against lefthanded starters (.194 batting average).  Yeah that's still below the Mendoza Line, but still.  One would think a guy with his long swing would match up pretty well against a guy who throws a lot of junk.  Besides, Rizzo has demonstrated better plate discipline than Alberto Gonzalez has this season.

- Gonzalez looked absolutely flummoxed up there against Ted Lilly.  After he looked at two curve balls and swung at a pitch in the dirt for strike 3 in the second inning, all I could think of was Pedro Cerrano.  He popped to first and tapped out weakly to Lilly in his other 2 ABs versus the Dodger lefty.

- Dodgers had 2 extra base hits.  Both of them came around to score.  Padres were oh-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

- Did you know Matt Kemp has a shot at the triple crown?  I didn't.  After his 426' HR to the deepest part of Petco, he is tied for the league lead in HR, leads the league in RBI, and trails Ryan Braun/Jose Reyes in AVG by .002.  Sabermetrics has taken a lot of the luster out of 2/3 of those statistics, but if he does something no NL hitter has done in 74 years?  That's pretty special.

- Wade LeBlanc dominated as he has not dominated since pitching against the Phillies way back in May.  He struck out 10, including the side looking in the seventh following Kemp's HR.  The high strikeout total may have been helped by all the AAA hitters in the Dodger lineup...

- Three of the first 5 Dodger hitters tried to bunt. Only one of those was a sacrifice attempt to move a runner over.  Weird.

- I didn't see the balk play clearly, but I will say it is unusual in my experience for the home plate umpire to call a balk, unless it is because the pitcher flinched, i.e., started then stopped his windup.  LeBlanc didn't flinch.  Neither the second nor first base umpires thought it was a balk, and first base umpire Todd Tichenor had the best angle.

- Speaking of Angel Hernandez, Friday's home plate umpire, his strike zone was ridiculous and inconsistent.  It looked to me some of his inconsistency on outside pitches derived directly from how the catcher caught the ball.  If the catcher set up off the outside corner and the pitcher hit his glove, even if it was a ball, they generally got the strike call.  If the catcher set up somewhere else and the pitch missed the target (like for example, he sets up inside and the pitch is outside so he has to reach across to catch it), even if the pitch was a strike Hernandez called it a ball.

Fully 24 of the 54 total outs were by strikeout.  That's 45% of all the outs in this game.  Of those, a third were looking.  Ted Lilly strikes out about 7 hitters per 9 innings.  He did that tonight in 6 and 1/3.Wade LeBlanc strikes out about 5 per 9.  Tonight he struck out 10 in 7.  Methinks an inconsistent strike zone had a lot to do with that.

- Aaron Cunningham made a bad baserunning play with one out in the seventh, trying to advance to third on a ground ball to third.  Ultimately it didn't matter - Jeremy Hermida walked, so the Padres had runners on first and second with two out anyway - but it was still a bonehead play.  He should have waited until Dodger 3B Justin Sellers went to first before taking off for third.

Padres need to win all their remaining games to avoid losing 90 this season.  No odds will be given on that happening.

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