It's been an emotional roller-coaster of a last 24 hours. Three ridiculously tense elimination games stretched the drama out for almost 3 hours, and then today Geoff Young announces he's hanging them up.
What will tomorrow bring?
We have one more Game Reflection to go, as I was at last night's game. Then, back to the GM series (no really - they are going to happen; it's not just a tease). Padres won last night 9-2.
- Cameron Maybin stole his 40th base last night, a third inning swipe of third with two out. He became the ninth Padre to steal at least that many and the first Padre to do so since Dave Roberts in 2006. The milestone was important to him and congratulations are appropriate for acheiving it. In terms of pure baseball, however, there was no reason to steal that bag. With two out, he would have been running on any pitch hit into play, and with his speed, he would have scored easily from second on a base hit to the outfield. I guess these are the things that happen during the last game of the season.
- Chase Headley's strikeout to end the third, and Will Venable's strikeout for the second out of the eighth, should be credited to home plate umpire Mark Ripperger. Why? Because the 3-1 pitch Ripperger called a strike was a ball. It was off the plate outside, and had been called a ball pretty consistently by Ripperger to that point. Headley swung and missed a 3-2 pitch in the same spot (also a ball). Same thing happened to Will Venable on a 3-0 pitch. He swung at a 3-2 pitch that was ball because the same pitch was a strike 3-0. When people get irritated by inconsistent umpiring, this is what they're talking about.
- The fourth inning ended with a caught stealing of home, but it wasn't a true caught stealing of home. Wade LeBlanc picked off Cub speedster Tony Campana with the third consecutive throw over. During that rundown, Lou Montanez broke for the plate, and the Padres tagged him out. I love rundowns, because you get cool sequences of numbers when the out is recorded. This play went 1-3-6-2-5-3.
- Ryan Dempster was cruising right along until he walked LeBlanc on 5 pitches. Then the wheels came off. Double to Maybin, walk to Venable, 3-Run shot to Nick Hundley. The 3-2 pitch Hundley hit out was RIGHT down the middle; I mean, it couldn't have been set on a tee in a more advantageous hitting position. Dempster wobbled through the 4th, although to be fair his defense betrayed him, kicking a sure double-play ball; recovered for a strong fifth, then started getting tagged in the sixth. I was very surprised Cub manager Mike Quade left him in there for 119 pitches.
- Venable ended the drama in this game with a Grand Slam in the sixth, Dempster's last pitch. It was the only grand slam hit by the Padres this year at Petco, and brings us to an interesting stat. San Diego (by my count) has hit 12 home grand slams since Petco Park opened in 2004 (they're buried in this list). That's not what's interesting, here is what is: last night marked only the second time since Petco opened that the home team has hit a 3-R HR and a grand slam in the same game. The other time? September 17, 2005, the night the first grand slam was hit at Petco by a Padre. Ramon Hernandez hit the 3-run shot and Khalil Greene the slam.
Once Venable's HR left the ballpark the scoreboard watching started in earnest. I don't have to explain what that was like, as it's all over the internet today. An incredible night of baseball. The funniest thing about it to me is the sequence of games. St Louis/Houston was the last of the 4 wild card impact games to start and the first one to finish, thanks to Chris Carpenter's 11-strikeout complete game. Philadelphia/Atlanta, Boston/Baltimore, and New York/Tampa Bay all ended within 25 minutes of each other, or, in different units of measure, while I was walking across the parking lot, while I was on the freeway headed home, and while I was turning onto my street. If the playoffs bring half that much tension to the table, it will be an exciting 2011 post-season.
We can only hope.
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